We offer each of our trainees a summer bursary of up to £1,000 every summer of their degree to spend on journalism work experience or a journalism project, giving them the unique opportunity to travel and explore the areas of journalism they are passionate about.

Here, School of Journalism trainee Jessica Rothwell shares how she spent her summer bursary on a week placement with The Times.

During the summer, I had the amazing opportunity to complete a week placement at The Times national newsroom at the News UK building in London. I got to work with The Times crime correspondent David Woode, who spoke at News Associates’ JournoFest earlier this year. I have admired his work for quite a while and had a keen interest in reporting on crime. 

On my first day, I was introduced to the news team and then in the afternoon, David took me down to the Kevin Spacey trial, where the court would be hearing the defence’s cross examination of the first alleged victim.

This experience was surreal and working on such a high-profile case was something I never expected to be able to do this early in my journalism career. 

@newsassociates_ ‘Don’t be afraid to knock on people’s doors.’ The Times crime correspondent David Woode shares his advice for those wanting to break into the journalism industry 🌟 #NewsAssociates #TheSchoolOfJournalism #TheTimes #CrimeCorrespondent #JournalismTips #JournalismAdvice ♬ Hell n back sped up – chas3

David introduced me to the other reporters that were covering the trial for publications like The Guardian, PA and more. I then got to see how quickly the copy from court needs to be filed for it to remain contemporaneous. I enjoyed witnessing how each of the reporters, irrelevant of publication, helped each other and discussed what details they would and wouldn’t include. I cannot thank David enough for giving me this experience.

I was asked to head down to Wimbledon the next day and cover the queue for tickets. The first Monday of Wimbledon had been a chaotic experience, with many fans not being able to gain entry into the grounds. My job was to go down there and get vox pops of people in the queue, asking where they had come from how long they had been waiting.

I was working with The Times chief news correspondent David Brown, who was inside the grounds reporting on the general news inside. After this, he suggested I grab a grounds pass for the day and join him in the press centre. He got me a wristband so that I could come and go while helping him with stories. I even bumped into Beat Media Group managing editor James Toney while I was there. I got to meet loads of reporters from other publications and network with them.  

Jess having a ball at Wimbledon!

The next day, I accompanied news reporter Ali Mitib to the Old Bailey for the sentencing of Jaswant Chail, the man who broke into Windsor Castle on Christmas day in 2021, armed with a crossbow and intent on killing The Queen. As I have an interest in court reporting, being in the Old Bailey was an experience I’ll never forget. 

The sentencing took an unexpected turn, and the entire story changed. Seeing how Ali adapted so quickly and naturally to the unexpected information, which changed the whole line of the story, was a real learning experience and one I will definitely keep under my belt. Ali also took me in to see court Number One, the most famous court at Old Bailey, which has held some of the biggest cases in British history. I definitely had a ‘geek out’.

I accompanied Ali to both days of the sentencing, but due to key people in the proceedings being unwell and unable to attend and the unexpected complexity of the case, the court adjourned until the July 27. Returning to the office after adjournment, I got to meet The Times crime and security editor Fiona Hamilton and had a chat with her about her work, what I had been up to and other such things. She is a very well respected person in the newsroom and to meet her was a very welcome surprise. 

On my last day I got to sit in the daily conferences between the editors and different departments. This is where the plans for the paper and site uploads are discussed. It was very interesting to see how the editors decide on what stories to go with and discuss the performance of stories with different demographics. Seeing how they all work together from every angle was so interesting. 

Overall, my placement at The Times was more than I could have ever expected or asked for and it would not have been possible without The School of Journalism. I worked on some of the biggest stories at the time and got to meet some of the people I look up to most. I cannot thank The Times news team enough for welcoming me and putting me to work.

You can read more summer bursary blogs here.

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