Monday, 19 January 2009


I’ve recently been on work experience at The Week and thought I’d take the time to tell you a bit about what it was like. The following is an excerpt from a longer report which is available on request...

The Week is a weekly magazine owned by Dennis Publishing and produced by a team of around 15 people in a west London office. It collates the many UK and foreign newspapers, magazines and websites into an intelligent batch and is the biggest-selling subscription magazine in the UK (only 3% of sales are from newsagents). The Week’s latest ABC circulation results were over 150,000, which is 75% of The Independent’s figure.

It was started 14 years ago in a garage by former Telegraph and Times correspondent Jon Connell, and circulation has grown steadily over this time; increasing for the last 20 consecutive half-year periods. The current editor is Jeremy O’Grady, assisted by his wife, Caroline Law, alongside deputy editors Harry Nicole and Theo Tait. I was primarily working with the researcher, Cal Flyn.

Much of my role as a researcher involved sorting and photocopying vast amounts of newspapers for the editorial team to use in their reports. In a weekly Monday meeting, the editorial team comes together to discuss the week’s agenda. During my first week, this meeting decided that the subjects to be primarily researched would be Gaza, Guantanamo Bay, the impending recession, Cuba, the Euro, working-class whites and the Tories. In the second week, it was Gaza, the recession and Tories again - but new topics included Prince Harry and the ‘Paki’, social mobility, Russia v Ukraine, Obama, Heathrow, Kevin Pieterson and Heathrow airport. So quite a mixture in there, which represents the diversity of subjects covered by The Week.

Another part of the researcher’s job is to find things to write about, such as spotting any health & science stories covered in the press, or any travel write-ups which could be useful to the respective sections. Regarding actually writing for the magazine, the researcher does not do too much of this as they are effectively doing the ground work for everyone else. However I did get the chance to write Poll Watch and Good Week during my first week, and Bad Week, Poll Watch and Farewells during my second. I also had a go at a few other sections like It Wasn’t All Bad and Travel, in order to help out the journalists who were actually writing them.

I haven’t worked on a magazine before, so I was really looking forward to getting started on The Week. The pace of the office was far slower to what I’m used to, but I was well aware that those around me were very talented journalists capable of turning thousands of words in newspapers into tight and digestible copy for busy readers. Journalism in The Week is of a very high quality, and it was easy to tell why once I’d met who I was working with. I learnt a lot during my six days there and it was a very worthwhile experience.

Magazine journalism is just not fast-paced enough for me, but I wouldn’t rule out working in the field - it’s just that working on the likes of Sky News, LBC Radio and BBC Sport has made me think every media outlet is all about “now, now, now”! I do work better under pressure, and enjoy getting more written than I did at The Week, but being a researcher means you’re still a major part of the team. But everything written is anonymous, so the whole team carries the can when things go wrong!