By Rooney John
I have just completed week 2 of the Big Issue online journalists course. It has been a great experience for me. Not only do I like, admire and respect all of the other 7 trainees on the course, I have also been given the opportunity to meet, converse with and learn from some highly knowledgeable and experienced mentors.
Tobias, the training co-ordinator/writing mentor has been a great help. He has encouraged me to tackle certain tasks, that at first, I was slightly worried and apprehensive about.
This week has seen the arrival of a new photography mentor – a delightful young man called Declan, who recently completed a photography degree. He is very talented at what he does. Then there is Zoe our photography tutor – another bright young thing. She has given me the most help with the photography component of the course. Normally a lecturer at the Knights Park campus of Kingston University, in Surrey. It’s wonderful that she has managed to find time from her busy schedule to help and mentor us. Last but not least there is Glen our journalism mentor – who is helping us with our writing.
On the first day of the course we learnt about writing NIBs, or ‘news in brief’. This is when you find the 5 Ws (Who, What, Why, When and Where) from a news article or press release and extract the salient points. NIBs ideally should be between 50-100 words long. As writing and the English language in general are my stronger points, I really enjoyed day 1.
On day 2, went on to learn about different communication mediums and learning the basics of photography from Zoe. We also got the chance to go out to take a few photographs and get used to using a digital SLR camera. I was dreading the photography part of the course. Obviously I have used cameras on mobile phones., but I had no experience whatsoever with digital SLR cameras. The last time I used a camera was over thirty years ago in 1981 or 1982, when I was in my early teens and used the family’s instant camera. You aimed, pressed the button and an instant photo would whirr out of the bulky machine.
The second week of the course has been photography week. On Thursday we were in the classroom learning a bit more about camera control and composition, where we were given a worksheet with areas that we were asked to try and identify. These were: Symmetry, converging lines, the rule of thirds, extreme camera angles, frames within frames, cropping in frame and depth of field.
We then went out in Deptford to develop our skills by taking a few photos. At first I was struggling and finding it hard to understand some of it, but after the trip to The Imperial War Museum on Friday and the help and encouragement of Zoe my confidence grew and I managed to go on to take some half decent shots. I thought that I had done well considering my initial camera phobia.
Now I’m really looking forward to the 3rd week of the course where we will be doing news stories!