Time Out London is bringing out the hippy in me! This month I started a coveted internship at the popular magazine that will go towards completing my Journalism Diploma. I was fortunate to have met with Rachel Haliburton, the Deputy Editor at TOL, because of the Libyan Revolution taking place back home and when she had originally approached me as a Libyan living in London about my views on the political front.
As a trainee with TOL, I am now learning the skilled craft of news reporting and how to cover tales from the supply end of information. All the things I unfortunately didn’t learn at No Sweat College – a very sore point for my intake – I am now picking up the technique of how to present stories and grab readers’ attention from the first few words of an article.
It is of course true that the sales of printed and online newspapers and magazines go to prove that people will always be eager to know of the odd behaviour and lives of others, the good and the bad humans do to each other, as well as to laugh or lament the unusual circumstances of still many more.
Working in the friendly news team with Rebecca Taylor and Halliburton, TOL’s preserve is to get the quirkier local London stories that don’t get aired in the national press. The political stance taken is not as leftie as you might imagine, but always balanced to suit.
From the first day, the atmosphere has been friendly, laid back and conducive to creative thought with the open plan office design and the wonderful characters I have met. TOL is free of the work shackles that people may experience in more rigid company structures, so that it allows for the artistic flow and exchange between the writers, editors and the different departments.
For me it has been the news stories that are most intriguing as every time we research and investigate a lead, it opens a whole other world and as I come to learn of individual or group trials and tribulations. Some of these are positive, some negative, others happy or sad, and, at times, just hilarious.
This month, for example, I spoke to Roma Gypsies and Irish travellers who are facing eviction from their caravan homes in Dale Farm and who plan to set up a human resistance camp against bailiffs and the Essex police. I also interviewed the ‘Clapton Improvement Society’ who transformed a public toilet facility into a pop-up cocktail bar without permission from the local Hackney council.
Then, there was the plight of the ‘cruising canal boaters’ on the River Lea who must now fortnightly shift along the waterways if they cannot afford to permanently moor their barges. And the sad but inspiring story of Wilton’s Music Hall that is raising funds to restore its historic but crumbling down building.
The Mayor of London and local borough councils are also very involved in many stories; and, no, they are not always the baddie, just imposing the law, which can of course be an ass.
But the top story I enjoyed was about the ukulele instrument, the unusually little four-stringed guitar that I never knew existed. Though it is becoming very popular with children and school music departments, the Duke of Uke store, which is the only dedicated ukulele shop in the city, has to raise money to afford relocation, as its lease is soon to expire.
And so, life goes on, humans find themselves in strange predicaments and newspapers and magazine deliver the stories to the public. But slowly and surely, I am learning how to be a news reporter and looking forward to everyday and getting up extra early to make my way to the office on Tottenahm Court Road. For those of you who know of my sleeping issues – that I love to sleep and have a lie in – will understand this is a big transformation. Just too bad that my days are numbered and I will hate to leave.
Note: This article was first published circa June 2011