A royal appointment: NCTJ student reports on the Queen’s visit to Lewes

Andrew Colley, 18, from High Wycombe decided he wanted to become at journalist at Andrew Colley 114. He is currently studying at Brighton Journalist Works and was given the opportunity to cover a royal visit with The Argus.

A common theme I’ve heard from reporters and news editors is the best thing about being a journalist is no two days are the same. And they say you will get to do things others never do – my experience of reporting on the Queen’s visit to Lewes in Sussex on Thursday, 31 October proved this to be true.

Just eight weeks into my 14 week course I was offered the opportunity to work with the regional daily newspaper in Brighton, The Argus.

The chance to work on something which would prove really big for the newspaper and the city was something I was never going to turn down.

Along with three other members of my NCTJ class at Brighton Journalist Works I was given a small insight into the organisation needed to cover such a momentous event.

Before the big day there were a number of things we had to do to prepare.

First was a news meeting in The Argus creative room. I and my three fellow students joined the newspaper’s editor, chief reporter and a host of designers and photographers.

Here we were given our briefs and told exactly what the paper wanted: we were to compile vox-pops and to specifically look for lots of good unique angles.

Not only would we be providing enough copy for six to seven vox-pops, we also had to tweet live from the scene and contribute to the newspaper’s live blog.

When the time arrived I went with one of The Argus’ senior reporters to the streets where the crowds were waiting and began working by handing out lots of A3 posters inscribed ‘The Argus welcomes the Queen’.

The posters proved a big hit and I found it was a good ice-breaker when approaching spectators in an attempt to get their views on the proceedings.

Continuous rain didn’t help my efforts, but surprisingly the whole afternoon went brilliantly. Not only were people willing to talk to me and have their picture taken they were also happy to share their anecdotes with me – which made for some great quotes.

There was the lady who put a cut-out Corgi in her shop window to make the Queen feel at home and the man who last saw the Queen over 30 years ago when he snuck past security to witness an official opening.

Once we had finished at the scene – and briefly saw the Queen drive past – we were off to the newsroom to type up our stories.

Not only did I have to use all the skills I had learnt so far on my NCTJ course, I had to stick to the deadlines set – which I thankfully managed.

The experience was something I was truly grateful for and would never have been able to do if I wasn’t on the course.

Someone once said as a journalist you get the front seat at history – I think I made front row today – I saw the Queen.