Journalist-Writer / Writing Mentor-Trainer / Success stories / Writer

Ex-Student Success Stories

Some of my favourite ex-students between 2002-2012 from the London School of Journalism are featured here. The media has radically transformed in the past decade, but it’s not all clichéd doom and gloom, as you’ll see from the stories of this mixture of ex-students from the postgraduate diploma course and my women’s media short course.  They all stood out because of their exceptional personal qualities and their attitude to their work and their future. Their success stories are no surprise to me, and meeting them at the beginning of their careers or at a pivotal point in their lives has been hugely exciting. I’ve described what they did right as students, whilst they’ve pinpointed what they learnt from me so that collectively you have a mini-course on how to get ahead in the media.

And here’s what the experience has taught me too:

  1. Not everyone who does a journalism course is cut out to be a journalist/writer. But there’s no better way of finding out whether it’s for you.
  2. Journalism courses are great fun, change the way you consume media and show you a way to become part of the media even if you don’t want to be a full time journalist. The skills are transferable.
  3. When the going gets tough on a course men tend to say: ‘Well, I don’t want to do this anyway, what I would be better at is….’
  4. When the going gets tough on a course women tend to say: ‘I’m just not good enough…’
  5. Anyone who asks ‘can you tell me how to get a column?’ isn’t serious about journalism.
  6. Everyone who asks ‘what advice do you have?’ and acts on it is totally serious.
  7. Students who won’t consider anything outside their dream publications or dream journalism area get disappointed and depressed.
  8. Italian students are awesome. They are so motivated they are getting paid jobs in British media. And there aren’t many of them –jobs that is.
  9. A lot of people who say they want to get published don’t want to get published. They want to be told they’re brilliant.
  10. I won’t tell you that you’re brilliant. I’ll motivate you to show me that you are.
Beauty-Fashion

Business

Film

Food-Travel

Lifestyle

News Agency Correspondents

Online Journalism

Real Lives

Reporting and Feature Writing

TV Documentaries

Website Creators / Bloggers

Rachel Wood

Make-up artist, freelance beauty writer, New York (LSJ short course 2008)

Lorna on Rachel: One of the great changes in journalism during recent years is the opportunity for non-journalists to write about their subject. Rachel was already enormously successful as a make-up artist when she came on the course, and had worked with several celebrities. Unlike a lot of experts who immediately resist the advice to start off contributing to a local paper or a trade publication, Rachel lapped up the advice, even though she might have been the exception to my suggested rule of starting local or trade as she already had contacts with glossy magazines. However, she understood that the advantage to something smaller or less well known is a chance to practise and develop writing skills. I was so impressed when, shortly after the course, she emailed me to say she had written something for a local Scottish paper.But I wasn’t surprised.

Rachel on Lorna: I originally took Lorna V’s course because I work as a celebrity make-up artist and I was constantly getting asked for tips and quotes for magazines. I would read these articles and think I should be writing them. Lorna gave me the grounding and confidence to push this side of my career. I started out by contributing to blogs and websites such as Superdrug’s beauty site and Storm Models. My writing career grew and I became a beauty contributor to fashion website Stylist Stuff. I also wrote articles for online magazine Fashion 156 and was given a beauty blog expert column for the Clothes Show Live. In addition I now have a quarterly beauty column in Center Parks Village Life magazine and have contributed to editorials such as the Daily Mail, Best and Celebs on Sunday to name a few. The best bit of advice she gave was to keep on writing, no matter how small the website or magazine; someone will see it and it all adds to building up your experience.

Ursula Dewey

Fashion and Beauty Editor @ Sofeminine, shortlisted for Vogue Talent Contest 2011 (LSJ short course 2010)

Lorna on Ursula: Ursula arrived set to make the most of every single minute of my three-day course. I was impressed because she was already freelancing for local and regional press before taking a postgraduate journalism course. That is a sure prediction of success. Too many young women think that getting a job for a glossy, glamorous women’s magazine is just a matter of doing work experience for long enough. They don’t realise there are too many of them and that they all merge into one bleating mass. Ursula radiated positive, happy vibes (instead of a passive, moaning energy); she asked questions constantly (instead of checking her phone non-stop); she listened to what everybody else on the course contributed (instead of reading emails and getting distracted); she was appreciative of anything I told her (instead of sulking, disagreeing, or complaining). Attitude counts for a lot, and Ursula’s is the gold standard.

Ursula on Lorna: I always came away from Lorna’s classes feeling that journalism was the ultimate career. Now I feel really lucky to work in an industry that I love, doing what I love. An average day can involve several meetings with PR agencies, interviewing celebrities, attending launches, trying out facials and getting sent various products to review.
The time I spent at LSJ on Lorna’s course was really valuable in learning insider secrets about what it is like to work in the world of journalism. I remember Lorna telling me how many emails and pressures there are on a working journalist or editor, and I now have first hand experience that this really is the case.

The key messages I got over the three days that really helped when applying for jobs and pitching feature ideas to editors:

  • Everyone, and everything has a story to tell
  • Be persistent – don’t let people forget about you
  • Be targeted with your pitches

I made sure that I would be the one to the get the job at Sofeminine (one of the largest online women’s magazines in the UK). It’s all about going the extra mile and making sure that your work and ideas are right for the publication you’re targeting, and exceeding expectations.

Ursula’s advice: A qualification in journalism definitely helps, as there is a lot more to it than simply writing, like law and sub-editing. I completed a Media Studies degree at Sussex where I edited our university magazine, then I did Lorna V’s LSJ course and went onto study with the NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists). I really benefited from all the training. Despite all the doom and gloom out there right now, it’s an exciting time to be a journalist – there are always new magazines and sites launching, and of course blogs make it even easier to showcase your skills. Make sure you network, and have a quality website that shows your best work and gives a flavour of your capabilities.

Phil De Semlyen

Staff Writer, Empire (LSJ PG Diploma 2008)

Lorna on Phil: Journalism is about asking questions and getting answers. Lecturing a group of students with no questions is grim. There you are looking to inspire a new generation, ready to pass on secrets, tricks and advice, and there’s silence. Phil on the other hand had a journalist’s mind. He constantly asked questions, not just during the lectures, but also before, after, in the breaks, and whenever he ran into me. He was interested in the media at large, the mechanics and the minutiae of writing, as well as my experience, which made answering his questions a pleasure. And unlike some students who demand better grades, Phil constantly demanded more of himself, even though he was Mr Top Grade to start with.

Phil on Lorna: Thanks to Lorna’s tuition I quickly learnt the difference between ‘a topic’ and ‘an angle’. One involved flowery prose that was fun to write; the other was a route to a career in journalism. I still think about it every time I write something: angle, angle, angle. If this makes Lorna sound like a geometry teacher, it was possibly the most important thing I absorbed as a student. She also had a wicked sense of humour and infectious enthusiasm. If journalism training was a movie, Lorna’s class would make the best word-based training montage in film history. Journalism can be a tough path, but the best thing I can say is that she’ll make you want to travel it.

Phil’s advice: You should try to find a job that you WANT to get up in the morning for. If you have to change careers to find it, do it, but I think it’s important to see the change as a progression and not a blank canvas. I worked in media sales before going into journalism, and that time was part of the learning curve. Journalism is tough, not brilliantly paid, and amazing. There’s no other job in the world that pays you to ask people personal questions, apart from maybe the police.

Nick De Semlyen

Reviews Editor, Empire (LSJ PG Diploma 2004)

Lorna on Nick: There are these rare students who arrive fully formed, ready to take on the world, yet incubating for a little longer in a postgraduate course. That was Nick: word perfect work, not a comma out of place, with total focus, and without a gram of arrogance. He was constantly looking to improve and actively seeking advice on how to get a job. Too many people confuse a dream job with a dream: they just go about dreaming and not doing. Nick was already reviewing for Empire before he even came on the course. He knew the magazine (and all the other film media) inside out as if he already worked there. It was only a matter of time before he was there full-time for real.

Nick on Lorna: Being a film journalist was always a dream for me, as the tall stack of Empires in my parents’ attic proves. It seemed out of reach, but my spell at the London School of Journalism with Lorna as my tutor gave me the foundations I needed to get the job when an opportunity came up. She’s an inspirational and encouraging teacher who taught the importance of research, attention to detail and creativity, and made lessons fun. Now I’m a full-time writer at Empire, getting to interview my Hollywood heroes such as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Harrison Ford, and I doubt I would be here if it hadn’t been for Lorna’s classes.

Nick’s advice: If you’re an aspiring journalist, here’s my advice: work harder than all your rivals; don’t let the inevitable rejections get you down (I flunked many job interviews); and write about the things you love — that way it never feels like a job.

Dan Storey

Freelance Producer / Journalist (LSJ PG Diploma 2004)

Lorna on Dan: There are 45-minute (one to one) tutorials that feel like 145 minutes because the student is sulky, arrogant, difficult, bored. And then there are the students I wish I had 145 minutes with. I used to look forward to Dan coming in. Some people have a divine connection to a subject and being around them really is a privilege. That’s Dan and film.

But what Dan didn’t realise at the time is that he could have chosen any type of journalism or media work if he wanted to. He didn’t know that the combination of his down-to-earth nature, his jokes, his willingness to work hard, and the fact that he lapped up all feedback, is exactly what’s needed for a job in journalism.

You can have the perfect technical skills but they’re pretty useless if you can’t get on with people, and that’s where most wannabe journalists go wrong. Your tutor is a potential 3-for-1 deal: your first reader, your first boss, and above all, your first mentor. If you write to impress your tutor, and respond professionally to feedback, as if that tutor is your boss, then you’ll have a terrific mentor.

I admired the fact that Dan wanted an all-round journalism qualification even though much of the course took him away from film. That showed a true commitment to his long-term dream.

I looked forward to reading his reviews because I knew energy, knowledge and passion would be bursting out of every word, and that each time there would something to surprise me. Every time I saw him I’d throw a random film name at him and then sit back and listen to him analyse the actor or director’s body of work. I wasn’t surprised that he was reviewing for film magazines before the course was over, and working at MTV soon after.

If I had to pick just one single moment alone as the highlight of teaching journalism for ten years it would be walking through Soho and hearing my name boom across Beak Street, and then seeing a happy face telling me: ‘I’m living my dream.’ It was Dan Storey.

Dan on Lorna: I can’t begin to describe how much Lorna’s words of encouragement and positive feedback helped push me on. As much as I enjoyed the LSJ, there were times when I felt like the one trick pony. Every time I was thinking of throwing in the towel I would come in for a tutorial and Lorna would instantly make me feel better. It meant an awful lot to me. I was really depressed one particular time because I got a
C- for an assignment from another tutor, but with no explanation. Lorna went through the assignment with me. She didn’t have to do that.

I was made to feel very aware on the course that I stood out like a sore thumb in comparison to the other students. There was my obsession with movies. At the time I was the DVD supervisor at Virgin in Croydon, hence my South Laaaaaaaaaandon twang that amused the posse of students so much. Let’s just say I wasn’t quite as eloquent as the rest of the folks on the course. I felt like a strange animal in a zoo several times when we had to address the class. But these experiences make us who we are. And in a way it probably helped toughen me up for the big bad world I was about to immerse myself in. We live, we learn. Or at least that’s what Alanis Morissette always taught me. Sure, we all experience snobbery in our lives, but oddly enough it’s never really been an issue for me in the real working world. Heck, I got told by Rachel McAdams that she could sit and listen to my cockney twang all day long on a shoot a while back, so that suits me just fine!

I’m currently freelance but spend a vast majority of my time at Sky Movies. I’ve been blessed over the years and had the privilege to do so many dream-type jobs. The highlight has to be being a part of the BAFTA Jury a few years back which was an awful lot like experiencing a real life Charlie and the Chocolate Factory scenario.

I even had George Clooney as a boss for a week when I worked as EPK (electronic press kit) producer on his movie The American over in the beautiful Italian countryside. It was a surreal yet absolutely scintillating experience. I was also the EPK producer for the upcoming Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie Dark Shadows and just recently Jonathan Glazer’s (Sexy Beast director) new film with Scarlett Johansson, Under The Skin.

None of this, not a single thing, could have been achieved without Lorna’s help.

Dan’s advice: Keep a level head. Learn to walk before you can run. Start off at the bottom. Understand that nothing will be handed to you and that you will have to work hard. Most of all, keep your mouth shut when the chances are you might want to scream! At the same time don’t be taken advantage of. Sure, do the work experience and work for free…but only up to a point! Don’t give people an inch so they can take the extra mile!

Eliza Burnett

Editor, The Epicurean, freelance writer on poker, food and travel (LSJ PG Diploma 2009)

Lorna on Eliza: Eliza was proof of what’s needed to work in journalism: a professional attitude plus something different. This professional attitude made her 100% responsive. Poker isn’t the only subject she writes about, but it helps editors remember her, and it’s essential to be remembered for something. Taking the course is part of a third element needed, and that’s a ‘what next?’ strategy. I was very impressed with Eliza’s dedication to improving, along with considering her career long-term, and the state of journalism. Having working journalists like Eliza in a group makes my job much easier, because they already know what it’s like out there in the real world, so other students can hear it from them, as well as me, and they can share their experience.

Eliza on Lorna: While I was studying at the LSJ I was editing a gambling magazine which has since closed, and I now edit a luxury lifestyle title. I took the LSJ postgraduate course after eight years in magazine journalism learning on the job. What I was looking for from the course was to fill in the gaps, eliminate bad habits and improve the necessary skills to continue my career. Having Lorna as my tutor certainly fulfilled all these things.

Lorna’s direct teaching style was invaluable. She constantly offered constructive criticism with thoughtful and insightful advice. She was always encouraging and never afraid to point out when something was truly awful or boring. This strong approach meant I always got the most out of tutorial sessions.

The most helpful element of Lorna’s teaching was her continual emphasis on how to connect with the reader by establishing your own voice and getting the tone of a piece just right. It’s the trickiest thing I think to teach and learn.

Roberto Priolo

Editor Lean Management Journal, Travel Editor Kensington & Chelsea Review (LSJ PG Diploma 2010)

Lorna on Roberto: One of the greatest reasons for training new journalists is that it’s so satisfying to relive one’s own journey from so wanting to be a journalist, to actually being one. I always tell students that they must enjoy the process of starting out because they will look back on this time nostalgically. I recognised a lot of my young self in Roberto, the me that took absolutely all advice when I was starting out. The other source of satisfaction is that students can themselves be inspiring. Roberto set out not only to be a journalist, but to also make it as a journalist outside Italy. I was inspired by the audacity of his vision. Proving that ambition does not go hand in hand with being an extrovert, he was very quiet on the LSJ one-month intensive summer school course in 2006. We spoke briefly on the very last day and I connected his name to work I had marked. When I got a request for a reference for Point Reyes Light, a local newspaper in Marin County, California I smiled. There was no stopping the boy from San Remo. He got the three-month internship.

And when Roberto came on the postgraduate course he used his time effectively, constantly approaching editors for freelance work and work experience. While most students didn’t take advantage of having the editor of a trade publication taking the same course at the school (because it wasn’t the area of journalism they wanted to go into), Roberto jumped at the opportunity to try something new. Work experience led to freelance work, so when a job came up editing a related trade title, he had a great track record.

Having spent the first four years of my career on trade press while freelancing for consumer titles, I’m always pleased when students go on to do the same. Sadly too many students make the mistake of seeing trade and consumer press as an either/or situation, and invariably end up with nothing. Roberto’s hard work and perseverance paid off. Travel writing is one of the most competitive areas, yet in addition to his full time job, he managed to secure editing his own travel page too.

Roberto on Lorna: There is something about Lorna that immediately has you look inside yourself, and wonder: ‘How badly do I want to be a journalist?’ Her lectures, like her answers to your questions, are often a reality check. Sugarcoating, she doesn’t do! Her comments on my CV (namely that it was boring and I seemed bored writing it) were so insightful and heart-felt (and, looking back, funny and witty) that I scrapped the entire thing and started all over again. The new CV got me an interview at Conde Nast (I didn’t get the job, but I had amazing feedback from the editor who interviewed me), and soon after I was hired as editor of a business magazine. I like to think of this as quite an accomplishment, especially considering how difficult it is to find a job in journalism these days, and the fact that English isn’t even my first language. I am sure that without the lessons I learnt from Lorna, this wouldn’t have been possible.

As a teacher, she challenged me on a constant basis, asking questions no other tutor asked and providing thought-provoking answers to my own questions. The most valuable lesson she taught me is to believe in myself as a writer and a person. I soon discovered there is no room for moaning and self-pity in her classroom: you are either committed to being a journalist or you are not, and she will make sure you know that. Lorna uses a practical approach to teaching how to write and approach publications. In her lectures she told us what it’s really like out there. Get in her classroom with an open mind and with the intention of getting as much as you can out of her extraordinary experience as a journalist and a teacher. It will pay off.

Roberto’s advice:
The piece of advice I’d give Italian people who want to get into journalism in the UK is this: don’t be afraid to dare, and don’t let the fact that you are not a native speaker stop you from pursuing a career here. My experience in London so far is that even if your English is not perfect, your piece will be accepted as long as it is clear and well researched and delivers what it promises. Sub-editors will help you. See your coming from abroad as an advantage rather than a handicap: after all, it gives a fresh, different perspective.

Il consiglio che vorrei dare agli italiani interessati a lavorare come giornalisti nel Regno Unito è questo: non abbiate paura di osare, e non lasciate che il fatto che non siate madrelingua vi freni nel cercare di costruire una carriera qui. A giudicare dalla mia esperienza a Londra fino ad ora, anche se il vostro inglese non è perfetto il vostro articolo sarà accettato a patto che sia chiaro e supportato da una buona ricerca e che offra quello che promette di offrire. I sub-editors vi aiuteranno. Vedete il vostro arrivare da un altro paese come un vantaggio piuttosto che come un handicap: dopo tutto, vi offre una prospettiva differente.

Pip McCormac

Commissioning Editor (Lifestyle), Sunday Times Style, columnist for Attitude, regular contributor to Elle Decoration, Glamour, Stylist, Harrods Magazine, BA High Life, AHICA.COM, StyleJunkee.com, former Lifestyle writer, Grazia (LSJ PG Diploma 2004)

Lorna on Pip: Whenever I meet a new group of students I find myself looking at the very spot where Pip used to sit lapping up my every single word in lectures with acute concentration. I knew from the first time he sat in a lecture with me that he had zero self-doubt, and that is a sure route to success. Zero self-doubt isn’t the same thing as self-confidence, as self-confidence can translate as self-delusion, and self-confidence without drive is wasted.

I can’t remember exactly what my question was, but I do remember Pip’s very first answer in a lecture. He outlined the different ways in which several publications profiled Katie Price, including how she was photographed. With the exception of two other people, everybody else in his class sniggered. Yet his answer was proof that he was on his way to joining the media because at the start of the course he genuinely loved it (as opposed to being in love with the idea of being part of it).

Before the course ended Pip applied to do some writing for a legal publication. I overheard another student who was also applying say that Pip would be no competition as he wasn’t interested in ‘serious’ subjects. Yet I knew Pip would get the work, just as I knew that it would be temporary and that his ambition to work for a lifestyle title would very soon be fulfilled. Pip didn’t make the classic mistake many wannabe journalists make: to wait for that dream job to come up. His attitude was to take any paid writing opportunity, whilst also applying for work experience and positions on his dream titles.

A lot of people starting out assume that writing for consumer press is easy, that there’s nothing to it, and they don’t need to work at it. Pip, on the other hand, wanted to learn as much as he could from me. When a student shows me respect, it’s a sure route to getting the most out of me, and the best from me, including an amazing reference or recommendation.

Pip on Lorna: I still use the things I learnt from Lorna at LSJ on an almost daily basis. I remember turning up and assuming that all women’s magazines were the same, and being shocked when Lorna said that the way Glamour covered a story would be different from how Cosmopolitan did it. I still remember this when I read various magazines and try to work out what their angle is, and as I write for them I always try to make sure I fit into their agenda or point of view.

Most of my classmates were scared of Lorna. She took no nonsense, and yet seemed to approve of fluffy subjects which my classmates thought were ridiculous, such as when I wrote about Coronation Street. I loved it – she was a published writer who had written for titles I could only dream of contributing to, and to me she knew everything, and was firm, but fair, and so full of knowledge. The other person in my class who responded positively to Lorna now works in the national consumer press in women’s weeklies.

Pip’s favourite Lorna Rules on successful freelancing and how to get ahead in journalism:

These are the following key points Lorna taught me about journalism that I still refer to regularly:

  • Within the first two paragraphs of any article, there will be one sentence which exactly sums up the angle of the piece, and you must remember this when writing a feature.
  • Write a feature with the publication it’s intended for in front of you. Copy the way they structure it, and the tone they use.
  • When you’re pitching to publications, pitch for a specific section, as proof you understand how the magazine works.
  • Don’t pitch feature ideas as a freelancer on Mondays. It will seem desperate, like you’ve been waiting all weekend.
  • If all you read is London Life (a free London paper at the time) you might as well take your journalism diploma and throw it in the bin. I remember Lorna literally throwing a copy of the paper into the bin as she said this. Dramatically. With a loud BANG.
  • Absorb everything in the media. Now that newspapers are available online there is no excuse.
  • Smile, and be polite at all times, especially when you are on work experience and being asked to make tea.
  • Magazines like to pigeonhole writers, and like to go to an expert on an area when they’re commissioning writers. Specialise early, and stick to it.
  • On a press trip, there will always be one person on the trip that nobody likes, and if you haven’t worked out who it is within the first half an hour, it’s you. I quote this ALL the time – particularly on press trips, always in reference to the one person the rest of us don’t like.

All of the above is true, and forms the basis of any advice I would give to anyone going into journalism.

Pip’s golden tip: If you are starting off now, train as a digital journalist, not a print one. It’s the future, and where all jobs will soon lie. Anyone who picks up those skills now will be in high demand in a few years’ time.

Amanda Maia

Freelance make-up artist, photographer, journalist working for Brazilian Marie Claire, In Style, Claudia, Mannequin, Veja São Paulo luxury edition, editor Unilever magazine (LSJ short course 2010)

Lorna on Amanda: What I loved about Amanda was that she arrived not only with a big open smile, but an open mind, ready to consider any direction. When a person arrives with zero negativity, like Amanda, results are way faster. She left the course with an even bigger beaming smile, resolving to write as well as take photos. I had absolutely zero doubt that she would do it – because she had zero doubt that she would do it herself.

There’s a piece by the Guardian’s late Paris correspondent Paul Webster about the unusual restaurant Cafe de Signes that’s barely 330 words and contains everything we need to know about journalism and writing. I never tire of reading it, and after ten years it hasn’t dated. In fact, with the Internet driving the trend for shorter pieces it’s even more relevant now. I use it not only as an example of outstanding writing and the blueprint for structure, but also to try and inspire people to focus on looking for quirky stories and being bold about approaching publications with them. Amanda totally got the point of this piece and went for it. Paul Webster would be proud.

Amanda on Lorna: I quit my job for a woman’s magazine in Brazil because I was tired of writing about the same subjects, and I went to London for a totally new experience. I’d been in London for a year and half when I did the three-day course with Lorna and realised I could find another way to work. I was in a city where lots of trends and events are happening all the time, so why not offer something about London to different media in Brazil? I was inspired by a short piece we analysed with Lorna on Cafe de Signes from the Guardian. This piece was an important watershed for my professional life, and it’s still an important reference. Straight after the course I looked around London with a reporter’s eyes and when I found the trend for cycling cafes I sent my idea to O Estado de S.Paulo (which is similar to the Guardian), and they were interested. I sent the article and the pictures and it got published. After that, they called me asking for another piece and I became a kind of correspondent for them in London during my time there! It was amazing. This helped me a lot when I came back to São Paulo and had to start from zero. I’ve been freelancing full time for over a year and I can’t complain. Every day is different and it’s a good time for work.

Rachel Bull

News Editor Event Magazine, Founder-Editor LiveUrbanLoveRural (PG 2008)

Lorna on Rachel:As far as I’m concerned there’s no fine line between nannying students and nurturing them. For me, nurturing young people for jobs in the media world means preparing them for the real world. Some students equate my depiction of this real world as my persona. Others take serious note of what I’m saying, as did Rachel. If you want to work in this business it’s like going into battle. You need armour to protect yourself, you need self-belief to launch yourself, and you will need mental stamina to keep going, no matter what is thrown at you.When Rachel emailed me to tell me she got a dream job, I was overjoyed; and when she emailed to say she’d been made redundant I was sad that someone as bright and talented should be so disappointed early on. But the thing about age and experience is that you learn that terrific things can come out of hard times, and I knew that Rachel would get through this.

The name Rachel Bull will always conjure up grace and power. And it’s one to watch out for.

Rachel on Lorna:

What I learnt from Lorna: Lorna isn’t an easy one to impress. Which is just as well, because being a journalist isn’t easy either. I realised very early on that one of my main goals at LSJ would be to impress her, which took drive, determination, originality and resilience. She brought out these qualities in me, and showed me how to harness them in a journalistic context.

The key messages from Lorna that helped me: Find your Unique Selling Point – your niche – that thing that makes you different from the rest.
Be arrogant about how good you are.

How I’ve carried Lorna’s mentoring with me over the years: At the end of 2008, and with zero experience on consumer magazines, I beat more than 100 candidates to the job of features assistant on Country Living magazine. It was a dream come true; so much so, that I took a whacking great pay cut for it. Seven months later I was made redundant. Being among the 15% of Natmags staff that had to go was a painful experience. (To this day, when I hear people talking about the feelings of worthlessness and guilt that come with redundancy, my chest feels like it’s filling up with expanding concrete that pushes up behind my eyes until it stings something rotten.) I felt rejected from a profession I had wanted so badly to crack – thought I had cracked.

After applying for countless jobs and sending out loads of pitches without any joy, I came very close to giving journalism up for good. My confidence had taken a serious hit, and I wasn’t sure I could cope with any more rejection. But I didn’t give it up. I had a USP – oh, and I also had experience and contacts on Country Living, a national title, so I convinced myself I could turn the situation on its head. I also knew that Lorna would have been disappointed and unimpressed if I’d given up, and I couldn’t let that happen.

I started a blog called employabull (a handy play on my surname) and got venting, empathising and – most importantly – writing. It was a relatively small step, but I made contacts through it, taught myself how to manage a blog and read site analytics, and it got me freelance work on other consumer mags. Eventually, I found full-time work again and secured regular freelance commissions. Having that voice in the form of Lorna V in my mind, willing me to get up and carry on, was one of the things that saw me through. She championed me at LSJ, so I couldn’t let her down.

The whole experience made me more focused, more determined and taught me what I wanted from my journalism career. Which is why last year (alongside my day job as a news editor) I launched my own online magazine: liveurbanloverural.com (LULR) showing readers the country side of urban living. Managing a project from a concept through to reality, creating great content and building my own brand has been a fantastic experience. It’s taught me a lot and opened doors, and it’s thanks to Lorna’s teaching and belief in me that I got there.

What I did that paid off: Where I’ve succeeded in job interviews and at work is where I’ve shown the most passion. It’s hugely important to employers, so show you’re excited about your subject and always have millions of ideas.

I’ve also made my own luck. Sometimes you have to. Launching LULR has been an amazing project. It has also helped me to get freelance work, build my contacts and given me leverage at interviews. It’s hugely competitive out there, so you need to give yourself an edge, whatever that may be.

What should wannabe journalists be doing? Know two things:

  • Despite all the doom and gloom, there have never been more opportunities for budding journalists to get published – online. Digital is creating new and exciting opportunities for writers that we have to embrace. Build contacts via social media, contribute to key blogs that you’re interested in and away you go.
  • You are really good. Everyone battles with confidence issues – I have more moments of self doubt than I care to admit – but believe you can do it and have confidence in your writing. It will show through and it will pay off.

Nataliya Vasilyeva

News Reporter, Associated Press, Moscow Bureau (LSJ PG 2007)

Lorna on Nataliya: Nataliya had such apparent drive, she was like a rocket revving up to be fired. I’ve noticed that Russian women have an intriguing mix of femininity and drive, and that when they have an ambition they approach it strategically. Nataliya was no exception. Instead of bursting into tears, or sulking, or demanding another tutor when she didn’t get the grade she hoped for from me, she handled the situation in a business-like manner. In other words she behaved like a professional journalist.

In addition to this it was clear that Nataliya had a natural reporter’s mind, which made it very exciting to work with her. Instead of announcing (as some students do) that if only she could cover a major political story or get to a war zone she’d do a great story, she found stories everywhere, from community centres and libraries to academic research on migrants in the UK. That’s why I knew she’d shine and get to do the big stories some day.

Nataliya on Lorna: The LSJ was the place that gave me confidence in my abilities and also strengthened my resolve to become a journalist. Lorna’s tutoring engrained professional ethics in me.
Before my first one-to-one session with Lorna I heard a rumour from another group that she was tough, but I discovered that this meant she was frank. I did feel disappointed that she didn’t like some of my features or reviews, but I came to view this as a learning experience since the feedback was specific, rather than veiled or vague.

Her emphasis on being professional made any cheating virtually impossible. I remember working on one feature where I didn’t have the time (or, most likely, felt too lazy) to get the quote I needed, and at some point I thought: ‘It’s so simple. It’s just the kind of thing anyone might say.’ And I decided to cheat and make up the quote.
But on the night before submitting the story, I realised that it wouldn’t work. I remember thinking: ‘Lorna will know, she’ll spot that I’ve cheated.’ So I had to walk into some restaurant (I don’t even remember what the story was about), and get the quote I needed from the manager. This was the moment when I realised that I can’t cheat in this job. I can proudly say now that I’ve never cheated in my stories since then.

Another thing I remember is her telling the class during the very first group tutorial session that features can be easy, which came as quite a shock because at that point I was thinking of elaborate pieces in the Guardian and the Independent as an unattainable standard. But as soon as she explained the basic ‘formula’ for writing features, namely getting the reader interested, the whole thing seemed easier and I soon found myself writing the stuff that I as a reader I would like to see in newspapers

Nataliya’s life as a journalist in Russia: I’ve been working at the Associated Press in Moscow since June 2008 when I was hired as a junior business reporter. At that time, I had zero experience in business journalism, but I got familiar with the subject fairly quickly.

As the AP’s Moscow bureau was getting smaller (halving from 10 to 5 staff between 2008 and 2012), I became involved in general news reporting. At the moment, I do general news and whatever big business news comes my way. Over the past few years, I’ve covered the 2008 financial downturn, the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections and the 2012 presidential election campaigns, the massive protest rallies in the winter of 2011/2012, terrorist attacks such as the 2011 Domodedovo airport bombing, the 2010 Moscow underground bombing, the manned spacecraft launches from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and dozens of other top stories.

Some of my features, including last year’s investigative piece on disastrous oil spills in Russia, and a first-person story about the fall of the Soviet Union, have received recognition within the AP and Moscow’s journalist community.

Giovanni Legorano

Milan Correspondent Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal (PG 2008)

Lorna on Giovanni: While many students waste time discussing what type of job in journalism they don’t want, Giovanni was focused on jobs that were available from the moment I said in class that it is essential to do so. This meant that virtually immediately after he graduated he was working as a reporter in London, working his way from a financial website to Dow Jones (and a recent relocation to Milan).

Giovanni arrived with a wonderfully open mind, ready to explore whether his dream of being a journalist was feasible. So of course it was possible to show him how to make the dream come true. In contrast to 99.9% of students with a financial background, he was delighted that his financial and management consultancy background gave him the way in to journalism. When he told me he admired the Guardian’s business commentator Nils Pratley, I was excited for two reasons: I love it when students introduce ME to a journalist or publication I haven’t read, and because far from equating financial journalism with boredom (as sadly many students do) he enjoyed consuming it.

This attitude is in fact what made it easy to develop his non-financial writing. I still remember Giovanni’s food reviews, especially the one on eating frites in Brussels.

Giovanni on Lorna: Lorna taught me to be much more critical of my copy and to enjoy writing even more. During tutorials she was always able to point out things that I could have done better in terms of the structure of a story, the style I was writing in and more appropriate terms to use.

Coming from an economic background, I would have never thought I was going to be able to write a restaurant or film review, but she taught me how to do it and, most of all, to really enjoy it, expanding my professional horizons.

One thing I will always miss is the interest she showed in reading my stories, the questions she asked me about the people I interviewed and the genuine curiosity that my writing aroused in her. I love to think that all my readers are like Lorna!

Giovanni’s advice for Italians: London is the perfect place for non-native English speakers to look for a job in journalism WHY?, especially for Italians as they WE? tend to have a strong determination due to the chronic nepotism that permeates Italy’s work environment. In London you’ll find a fairly meritocratic market where everybody is given a chance. Employers often ask you to sit a test if they call you for an interview, so try to prepare for that. It goes without saying that the level of your written English needs to be very high. No grammar or spelling mistakes! And no convoluted sentences! The Italian and English journalistic styles are quite different, so be sure you know how to write a proper story in English. In London there are loads of trade press publications, which are normally a good place to start, and if you have previous professional experience, say in IT, then look for computer magazines and apply there. This doesn’t mean that in the future you won’t be able to have a career reporting on politics or something else. The most important thing is to find the first job, the rest will come if you are persistent, follow your editor’s advice and work every single day to improve!

Simone Martufi

Coordinating Editor IMBO, writer Cruiseship Academy, South Africa (PG 2010)

Lorna on Simone: I wasn’t Simone’s tutor, she wasn’t on one of my three-day courses (where I get to know everyone individually), and I didn’t get to mark any of her work. But I was one of her lecturers, and though I never had the opportunity to speak to her one-to-one, I was sure she’d get there as a journalist for two reasons.

Firstly I could tell she was listening in lectures and processing what I was saying. She stood out because she was receptive. I could see the excitement in her eyes and often when I handed out pieces for students to analyse in the class I could see her willing herself to be writing pieces like this in the future.

Overhearing conversations she was having with other students during the breaks also told me a lot about Simone. She was discovering London with a journalistic mind, and the fact that she was confident enough to go to a particular well-known venue and have oysters and champagne on her own (because that’s what it was famed for) told me a lot. She wasn’t bragging about this, and clearly it was a milestone, something she just had to do.

I always appreciate seeing students smile because little do they know that it’s the smiles not the scowls that get you through. Simone smiled a lot.

Simone on Lorna: I really enjoyed attending Lorna’s lectures because that’s how I found my niche. I use her methods and tips today in my career. I remember feeling I wanted to be just like her. I love the fact that she also told us some of the mistakes she made in her early career as that taught us some valuable lessons and showed the class what pitfalls to avoid.

I also really took to heart the fact that Lorna said you need to sell yourself and the individual skills that make you and your writing unique and special, because that is what will make potential employers take notice of you.

From Lorna I learnt how to do a killer interview and now interviews are what I most love doing on my radio show and in my articles. In fact it’s what I do best. Her best tip was: ‘The interview should be like a conversation so that your interviewee doesn’t even know they are revealing things about themselves.’

Simone on her long journey to getting the work she loves: When I left the London School of Journalism I was awfully proud of myself for having completed the course even though it was gruelling, highly pressurised and intense, and this unfortunately was reflected in my mark.

I don’t take criticism too well and so during the course I wasn’t taking the opportunity to improve. I did allow myself a bit of a pat on the back for the three A’s I achieved for written work. I stuck my head in the sand like a silly ostrich and cracked on with the course.

I honestly thought that I would never work in the industry and that my writing truly sucked. So I came back to South Africa at the beginning of 2011 for a holiday and did not return to London.

I was happy to be home but I struggled for almost a year to find employment of any kind. Then at the beginning of 2012 broke and disheartened, I turned to Gumtree, as you do when you’re at the end of your rope, and there I found an ad looking for someone to write copy for a website that coaches people on how to get jobs on cruise liners. I applied immediately having had five years experience on cruise ships and a diploma from the LSJ to boot! I tell you, it was meant to be.

I started to dig up my old LSJ assignments, as they wanted to see examples of my writing. Looking over my work now I actually see I wasn’t that bad and was even bordering on quite good, with a little more talent than I gave myself credit for. I should have believed in myself more.

This is my first paid writing job and getting it really gave my confidence a boost. I am really enjoying writing for Cruiseship Academy. I’m now in the process of writing an e-book for them, and they also want me to manage the site.

A couple of weeks after I got the job, I answered another ad (also on Gumtree) for a co-ordinating editor for the online youth entertainment magazine IMBO. I got the job because they were looking for someone at graduate level and my qualifications really helped me stake the claim.

It’s an online magazine for students in Cape Town and focuses on lifestyle and entertainment with mentorship and employment opportunities, and we will be moving into print soon. I also contribute to the magazine which includes styling, compiling and co-ordinating fashion shoots!!

I’ve also always wanted to be on the radio and now I am thrilled to be co-hosting a two-hour radio show once a week for an online talk show called thetaxi.co.za, which is a live extension of the magazine IMBO.

My message to students is keep trying even if you think you suck. There is work out there but you find it by taking baby steps. I’ll never forget what Lorna V said to our class: ‘Don’t think you are going to walk out of here and write for Vogue tomorrow. You have to start small.’

Well, I’m starting small because it’s also a necessary step to growing one’s talent, but I’ll have you know I still have my sights firmly set on Vogue. Simone on travelling the world and then taking a journalism course: I’m now 33 years old. I hadn’t done very much writing at all other than when I completed my degree in English and Performing Arts. I quickly realised I wasn’t going to make a career out of performing and I felt this degree left me ill prepared for a real world job. I felt I was missing something. My dream was always to travel and study in a different country and being creative I wanted to enrol in a course that would allow all of that while specifically focusing on a career. I chose journalism and applied to the University of Queensland in Australia. Although I got in I was denied a study visa and thought my dreams were done.

So I packed my bags and went travelling and got a job working for a cruise ship. I stayed on for many years travelling all over the globe until I decided I had strayed from my path long enough. I moved to London to finish my studies and found the evening postgraduate diploma course at the LSJ. It was perfectly suited to me because I could work as well. I felt like I would be putting the finishing touches to my studies and wanted this diploma to give me the edge over the competition. By doing this course I not only found my career but my niche. Now having returned to Cape Town I have found a place just for me.

Sadly the money I’m earning isn’t great but I’m learning and growing and I’m really happy every day because I’m finally doing what I love.

I don’t think I ever would have had the confidence to really go for it in my career without the expert knowledge I gained from doing a journalism course at the LSJ.

Joe Mellor

Senior Reporter, Story Seller (LSJ short evening course 2009)

Lorna on Joe: I couldn’t have had a more memorable group than the 19 women and Joe Mellor when I stood in for the hugely talented Nick Barlay who normally teaches the evening freelancing course at LSJ. I looked forward to seeing them every week because they were so responsive, engaged, and fun. A big dollop of the fun came from our one man, Joe, who sat to my left and was in close proximity to be teased and challenged.
It was obvious he’s a people person, someone who can relate to absolutely anyone, and doesn’t find any situation daunting, including being in a room full of 19 boisterous women. Too often people think journalism is about knowing the perfect formula to get a piece published, but it’s not. It’s a people business, and if you’re a natural with people, you’re half way there.
Joe was past the half-way point, he just didn’t know it. I’m always delighted when students show a genuine interest in the media that ranges from politics to popular culture, and that was Joe. If you don’t love the media forget it, don’t even try going there. It’s a game, and you have to really want to be in there playing the game.
Instead of trying to be clever he was just himself when he wrote, and that’s what made him a natural.

Joe on Lorna: I was working in a job in the city I hated, but had always dreamed of being a journalist. Due to a combination of laziness and fear that my writing wasn’t good enough, so I didn’t pursue a career in writing.
After a particularly awful day I went home, googled journalism courses in London, and decided to do the 10-week Go Freelance evening course at the London School of Journalism.
Everyone was really friendly and Lorna was brilliant from the off. Her knowledge of journalism and natural enthusiasm really struck a chord with the group.
I wrote my first piece and submitted it. I was worried sick she would hate it but to my astonishment she said I had a real flair and was talented. To hear that from someone like Lorna gave me the confidence I needed to go into my new profession.
Her knowledge of writing, how to get articles published and the art of selling a story are skills I still use today.
After the course finished, I quit my job and started writing articles for TV review sites and magazines, and submitted work to national newspapers.
I also did a Masters in Journalism at Newcastle University and after I finished this course I was offered a job at a news agency. I worked as hard as I could, as I was playing catch up with more established journalists.
I was pretty successful, with news and features published in national newspapers, and a range of women’s glossies. Now I am a senior reporter at a new features agency that I helped set up, and I am helping to train two junior reporters.
I would never be where I am today without Lorna, and the skills, knowledge and drive she gave me.

Maria Carla Rota

Reporter-section editor, Libero, Italy (LSJ summer school + short course 2010)

Lorna on Maria Carla: I’m always telling people to work out what the journalism system is and to work from this point to find a way in. There will always be a way. Maria Carla arrived with her mind set on finding that way in. It’s difficult to help students who are full of ‘buts’ because that means dealing with their mental blocks. Maria Carla had no ‘buts’, instead she only asked ‘how?’. I can work with ‘how?’ because I can work with trust. She had total trust in my advice and that’s really saying something because I don’t speak Italian. I can, however, somehow read Italian. I could show her where the media is similar, and how she could take British formats and ways of working back to Italy.

It’s very common for overseas journalists to insist their media is terrible and the British media is fabulous; their media has no opportunities, whilst the British media is nirvana. This is a limiting attitude. Maria Carla focused on what she could learn and how she could take that back to Italy. I didn’t doubt that she would achieve her ambitions because she has an extraordinary capacity to listen.

Maria Carla on Lorna: I was most interested in Lorna’s attitude to writing human stories, her sensibility for people, her capacity for finding people to interview from everyday life right through to entrepreneurs and bankers. I was also fascinated by her very focused goals. I realised that attitude and focus are essential qualities in journalism, especially with increasing competition, fewer paid positions and low rates for freelance journalists.
I appreciated Lorna’s comparison between Italian and British press and her in-depth analysis of Italian magazines as this helped me work out my personal goals. Her advice helped me make the decision to give up my old job which I really hated when I got back to Italy.
I started freelancing and wrote for press agencies for a couple of years and then got a position on an online newspaper reporting on Italian news, as well as writing features about men and women. I’m now looking forward to project managing and writing for a new section my newspaper is planning called Society as this is what I’ve been working towards.

Ann Morgan

Feature writer/news editor, Education UK (produced by the Guardian), Freelance sub-editor, journalist, blogger (PG 2011)

Lorna on Ann: Here’s what some students think is enough to get them into journalism: sloppy work that hasn’t even been spell-checked, lack of real interest in the media, adolescent demands for praise and higher grades, excuses for not delivering work, refusal to write for specific publications or formats (‘But I have my own style’), reluctance to have a focus for their blog (‘But I have my own style’), and indignation at being asked to write a local story (‘I’d be really good if I was in a war zone’).

And then along comes Ann. A total pro.

Ann arrived with an ace track record that was no surprise given her high standards. Some people spend too much time asking ‘how to’ questions, and then there’s Ann, who spends all of her time doing and striving to be better. I never felt I was marking Ann’s work, and it was very exciting to be having a first look. Whether blogging or writing features, Ann writes to be read.

Ann on Lorna: Having freelanced for three years for clients such as the Guardian and Tatler and reached the final of a national journalism competition, I decided to do a postgraduate diploma at the London School of Journalism to consolidate my skills and knowledge.

My tutorials with Lorna were one of the most useful aspects of the course. As a freelancer you rarely get people taking the time to invest in your skills and knowledge, so it was great to have an experienced journalist who I could take my work to and who would discussit with me.

Lorna was supportive and warm without being afraid to tell it to me straight. Knowing that she was waiting for my copy every few weeks made me go out and pursue stories I would not have had the guts to tackle otherwise. I pitched several of these successfully to outlets I hadn’t written for before, including the Guardian’s Sustainable Business site and the New Internationalist.

Lorna’s feedback also made me more confident dealing with the writers I commission and helped me to sharpen my sense of the options available for structuring features. It increased my confidence in my own abilities.

After finishing the course, I embarked on a project to read and blog about a book from every country in the world in a year. I would never have taken on such an ambitious project if it hadn’t been for the course and the increased self-belief Lorna helped me develop.

The Life Detective

Financial reporter, Blogger (LSJ short course 2009)

Lorna on the Life Detective: The Life Detective prefers to remain anonymous because she is a specialist financial journalist and this is her secret writing life. She is proof that it’s possible to have a dual life, and that one type of writing does not preclude another.

Too many people assume there is a magic formula to getting published in their dream writing area: ‘Can you just…’ is how they frame their questions. The short answer is no. There is no ‘just’. You can’t go from lawyer to Guardian feature writer, or financial analyst to Liz Jones columnist in one ‘just’. There is a process in between, and the Life Detective understood before she even came on the course that you can’t ‘just’ switch from one type of journalism to another.

She was already putting into motion her alter ego when she came on the course. The financial journalism paid for courses and retraining in personal development field. The next step was writing about this new area, and she was entirely open-minded about how to go about this. Instead of thinking in terms of an either/or scenario, she has found a way of having two journalism selves.

The Life Detective on Lorna: I was a financial journalist for 17 years, harbouring this secret desire to write for women’s magazines. When I contacted my favourite one and was very politely knocked back I immediately thought it was because I had no journalism qualifications: a thought that led me to discover Lorna and her classes.

Not only did she teach writing for magazines, but the subjects she covered were exactly what I wanted to write about. By the end of the first morning, she had turned my world upside down, knocking the myths out of my mind and allowing me to re-frame my ideas. She gently reminded me that with a 17-year track record I was already a journalist, just one with a specific expertise.

Lorna said my route to publication would be different to other classmates who would have to get experience and some published work before writing for their dream titles. I simply had to get on with writing and not to discount writing a blog in order to become an expert in the new area I wanted to be known for. And from that moment on my free time and energy has been invested in creating the Life Detective.

On a practical level Lorna was brilliant at explaining the business of freelancing. Lorna’s forte is not just passing on the depth of her experience as a prolific freelancer and editor, but also allowing her students across all walks of life and experience to find their own authentic voice. In fact, she is very keen for all of us to write from the heart and the depth of our everyday lives, making every one an instant expert with the confidence to write.

Niccolò Mineo

Graphic and Web Designer, Blogger at Gamut (hosted by Tomshardware Italy)

Lorna on Niccolò: Niccolò was in a particularly strong post graduate group that included a leading senior government economist, successful freelancer and prolific blogger Ann Morgan, maverick Sardinian political blogger Luca Foschi, and Francesco Mandolini who was already getting published in the Italian press. I noticed that Niccolò always sat confidently in the centre, observing his talented fellow students as much as his lecturer. In his first tutorial I was stunned when he produced a copy of an email from the Evening Standard responding to a news story he sent them before it was even marked by me. Getting students to get their work out there can be a Herculean task. I asked what made him send it in. ‘You,’ he replied. ‘You told us in the group tutorial that we must do this. You lit a match in our brains, and I took this fire.’ For all the times I’ve asked myself ‘Why do I do this?’ when I’m frustrated with students, Niccolò gave me my answer: to light young talented matches.

Niccolò on Lorna: I remember during one tutorial session she took me by the shirt collar, pulled me towards her, and said: ‘You’ve got to grab the reader exactly like this: take him inside your work.’ Lorna’s mix of kindness, drive and passion was perhaps the best way for an Italian student to still feel at home while progressing along the necessary route to learn something more advanced. She taught me to connect my thoughts with my actions. Her drive led me to actively delve into a variety of articles, which helped me really understand the media field. And I am really appreciating the fact that her lessons definitely help in my work as a graphic and web designer. It’s proof of how cleverly she adapts her teaching role. Analysing the British media’s way of speaking, writing, and thinking with its ‘less is more’ attitude is a huge advantage because what you do becomes more fluid and catchy, just like music. It’s no accident that English music has groove, rhythm, and is so popular. I like to think of English as a glass body you can paint on, with very general features that you can later define and adapt.

Niccolò’s advice to Italians: London is a scary place for Italian journalists. The scene is so big, and you really are all by yourself. But this is what is exciting. You feel like a refugee, able to create your own path. Italians coming to Britain will be forced to put aside their national pride and ego as they realise they’re part of something bigger that can’t be seized. We Italians are used to feeling at the centre of the world because of what we were in the past. Our culture is based on the past, not on the future.

Londra fa paura ai giornalisti italiani. Sono soli di fronte ad un panorama vastissimo. Ma è anche così che l’eccitazione sale: si sentono fuggiaschi, con l’opportunità di crearsi un loro proprio percorso. Gli italiani che approdino in Inghilterra metteranno da parte volente o nolente il proprio orgoglio ed ego culturale, nel momento in cui realizzano di essere parte di una comunità più grande, all’interno della quale la volontà individuale sfugge di continuo alla presa della mano. Noi italiani ci sentiamo come se fossimo al centro del mondo per via di ciò che il nostro Paese ha rappresentato culturalmente nei tempi passati. La nostra cultura è basata sul passato, non sul futuro.

An Italian web designer’s view of Italian vs. British Press: The best British newspapers and magazines are not completely closed and élite environments. Instead the freelancer has the chance to play an important role.

There is almost no meritocracy in Italian mainstream journalism. Our journalism is based on a rigid training system that results in a professional title and the journalist’s name going on a professional register. But even if you reach that stage, it’s really difficult to actually get onto a national newspaper or magazine unless you have the right acquaintances, and, yes, even if you have them, it takes time.

Italy is a cradle of culture and this is really cool, but our intellectuals are too wrapped up in this. The media is no exception. The Internet, which for me is a place where magic is possible due to its anarchic nature, is an invaluable tool for young Italian freelancers who want to change the system. This is what will save the freelancer’s profession in Italy. Online publications are using freelancers, so freelancers need to become masters of the Internet.

I’ve realised that web designers are seen as Messiahs in Italian / Mediterranean / non-Anglo-Saxon corporations because they can handle the Internet, which is a difficult beast. The key themes in international media have been change, innovation, dynamism, and youth, as well as the importance of making certain sacrifices for the sake of pushing ideas further. All these elements are part of a cultural change that is due to happen in Italy. It’s just a matter of time.

It’s not possible for anyone to steer the Italian culture to meritocracy if you’re inside the Italian media. It’s the Anglo-Saxon media that will change us. It will be inevitable and it’s already slowly and silently happening. I’m glad our ground is shaking under our feet. An inner part of us will die, but it’s thrilling to see what will happen.

Bobby Pathak

Investigative Journalist/Undercover Reporter, (PG 2004)

Lorna on Bobby: The great thing about journalism is that, unlike most careers, there is no precise, set way. There are many roads to your dream destination. Bobby understood that you have to be proactive in getting to your destination, and that you just never know where an opportunity might come from. So when a neighbour of Bobby’s asked him what he was up to, he enthused about the journalism course, discovered the neighbour worked for SoapLife magazine…and got himself some sub-editing shifts. He’d never watched a soap opera. I still laugh when I think of him bursting through the door for a tutorial announcing he was doing a crash course that week on soaps.

Some students get upset when told how it is in the real world and what they are up against. Bobby was the opposite. He wanted to know. Aware that his age and the drastic career change he was undertaking weren’t ideal in a competitive market, he set about proving he was serious. This is a guy who can fit in absolutely anywhere, and make everyone around him smile, and he used these skills to get ahead. He gained a phenomenal amount of experience while on the intensive full time diploma course by pushing himself to get published. There was absolutely no doubt that he would get to his destination and further.

How Bobby got from journalism college to documentaries: While still studying for my postgraduate diploma, I managed to get a major story in my local London newspaper exposing an influx of aggressive vagrants into the area immediately surrounding the college. I also secured regular shifts sub-editing IPC Media’s Soaplife Magazine. This work continued after graduation and led to further sub-editing work on a number of other IPC Media titles. Alongside this I continued to freelance for local newspapers. After two weeks unpaid job film and music reviews for the Daily Mirror’s weekly The Ticket supplement, the newspaper’s editor offered me paid daily shifts. Stunned that I was even talking to the editor, I told him I’d be happy with any work he gave me but I’d be happier working as part of the news desk. He agreed and told me to come back in six weeks. Knowing I couldn’t turn up without a story, I set about working on an investigation of my own volition. That story hit the front page.

After regular shifts on the Daily Mirror I went freelance fulltime, contributing to the Daily Telegraph’s Diary section, reporting for the Daily Mirror, writing for middle market tabloids and Sunday broadsheets, as well as business-to-business magazines and specialist publications.

In January 2007 I reported on a Dispatches documentary which was aired on Channel 4. This was a yearlong investigation and was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award for Best Current Affairs programme of 2007. Since then, I have researched and reported for Sky News, researched for Channel 4 News, and I am working on major investigations.

Bobby on Lorna: The importance of a work ethic is probably one of the most important ideas I shared with Lorna V. By the time I met Lorna I was already in my thirties with a successful career as an interior designer for international banks and offices behind me, so the need to roll my sleeves up and get working was an attitude I already firmly agreed with before I quit interior design to study journalism. Lorna and I clicked from the moment I sat in her tutorial group. Her keen sense of working to deadline in a pressured environment matched my own.

But I learnt a lot more than that from Lorna. She taught me how to focus my writing in order to produce clear, persuasive and accessible copy in a variety of styles to suit a range of target audiences. She also honed my skills within what was a new and alien world of journalism, which has allowed me to maintain constructive relationships while balancing competing demands. Most importantly, she developed my eye for a story, and that has led me to delight in new, creative and innovative ways of getting the message across with precision and accuracy. This all left me in good stead for a new and somewhat daunting career change and has allowed me to continue to flourish.