Palatinate at 75: what can it do for you?

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Needless to say I felt a bit tired by the fourth hour of my five-hour zoom interview. It was for a MA in News Journalism at Cardiff. Only 20 or so people are accepted into the course and, without sounding too smug and up-myself, it’s one of the best courses of its kind in the country. Resultantly, I’m pretty sure I was up against freelancers who were at least 4-years my senior.

Besides the results from the tests I had just done, all I was equipped with was my experience from Palatinate and an anecdote about serving 80s songwriter Matt Aitken his 10pm Timothy Taylor’s in my local pub. By some miracle, I got a place on the course.

Although I hope this to be the start of a budding career in the journalism industry, for that we’d be wise to look towards some of the Palatinate alumni. The former editors boast a litany of high-profile media jobs at institutions like the BBC, ITV, The Times, and other outlets. The editors from 1976 and 1986 respectively, have made an indelible mark on British journalism. George Alagiah, arguably the face of the BBC News at Six, spent his tenure adding some edge to editorial pieces as well as swimming in Mildert lake. Jeremy Vine, another former editor, even came out to bat for the paper recently in the row over the Student Union’s decision to cut funding for Palatinate as well as copyright the paper’s name. Needless to say he backed the correct side of the argument. Thanks, Jeremy.

Former editors boast a litany of high-profile media jobs at institutions like the BBC, ITV, The Times and other outlets

So, can Palatinate contributors expect to replicate this success in their careers to come? This question is as sweeping as it is rhetorical. Such high journalistic offices as mentioned above should hardly be treated as benchmarks, but rather proof that experience writing for Palatinate, and more importantly the skills learnt, can yield the nation’s finest jobs in the journalism industry.

When asked what skills journalistic experience has provided people, some responses are commonplace: exposing the truth, holding others to account, fighting for those without a voice. Although these seem more like mission statements, they are a noble pursuit nonetheless.

However, the skills I’ve found most important, and rewarding, from writing for this paper are a bit simpler. The ability to observe your surroundings and listen to others seems like an art form that’s being lost in today’s society.

Besides being pretty important for this practice, I would argue that it’s also quite good for you. This goes alongside deciding why you write in the first place. To make laugh, to make cry, to inform or to entertain, to provoke thought or even provoke action, honing each of these styles is a valuable skill, and one which Palatinate encourages you to practice freely. This paper is a playground in which to express individual writing style. At the very least you’ll get a by-line and a sense of achievement.

With values of independent reporting and creative expression still in place today, one can have confidence that Palatinate will provide a platform to more future journalists

So, can experience at Palatinate be a stepping-stone to a career in journalism? Well yes, I suppose, just as rolling a six in monopoly is a stepping-stone to winning the whole game. Far more valuable than a sentence on experience at Palatinate inked into a CV are the skills you learn from it and what you do with them.

For clarity, this advice is not coming from a sage old former editor with his own op-eds in a broadsheet. I’m an undergrad who’s only been doing this for a few months. But if this advice is already clear to me, then it’s probably pretty obvious. Journalism remains a somewhat nepotistic field. The days of teaboys working their way up through smoke-filled Fleet Street offices are gone. Bachelor’s degrees are now necessary but not wholly sufficient. This is true of many postgraduate jobs today.

But Palatinate has shown itself to be a cradle for future journalistic excellence. With values of independent reporting and creative expression still in place today, one can have confidence that Palatinate will provide a platform to more future journalists in the making. It has done so for 75 years, so why would it stop now?

Illustration credit: Anna Kuptsova

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