Concrete Confessions: What I’ve really learned from student journalism

After three years, 37 articles and a whole lot of deadline-induced panic, this is the final article I will ever write for Concrete. 

Just typing these words makes the prospect of moving on from UEA that much more real. As I stare down the barrel of a summer of dissertation writing, job seeking, house hunting and graduation, this seems like as good a time as any to think about what I have learned from my time at Concrete- if nothing else, I can copy bits of it onto a CV. 

Let’s start with the practical skills: media law, WordPress editing, copy editing, political coverage and obituary writing, just to name a few. It has also cemented my ability to write under extreme time pressure (as I write this article 20 minutes before the deadline- sorry Maja!) and to adapt my tone to appeal to an audience. But this isn’t what you’re reading this article for, is it?

Keeping the Editor in Chief happy is the golden rule of Concrete, but how to achieve this very much depends on who you’re dealing with. For Chris and Dolly, bosses number one and three in my Concrete career, it was focused on writing good content, engaging with other members of the team and sharing your ideas. With Sam, boss number two, on the other hand, the way to his heart was through a sharebox of McNuggets and responding to the hasty Breaking News content calls he would think up from the other side of our shared bedroom wall. (Rule number two: think very carefully before moving in with journalists- their brains never switch off.)

Writing Breaking News for Concrete has absolutely taught me to think like a journalist- at least I think so. Sometimes, something will happen in the world and everyone takes a simultaneous pause. These are the moments when you pick up a pen, or a laptop, and record everything. Whether you’re documenting facts or feelings, having these records is both useful for whatever publication is sharing it, and invaluable for your future. 

So many of my memories of the first lockdown have been repressed, but the accounts I wrote as I was working through the period have helped me to process what I was feeling at the time, and will no doubt do the same in the future. Similarly, covering world changing events such as deaths and criminal trials allows me to forever have a story to tell when someone asks “Where were you when…?” 

As parting words, let me say, without hope or agenda, just because it’s exam season, and in exam season, you tell the truth, that writing for Concrete has been a privilege. I would encourage anyone to grab all the opportunities provided with both hands, take anything you’re passionate about and find the story in it. Your excitement shines through if you care about something enough, and you’ll find people who share it. Oh, and go to Post-Pub-Pub: they’re some of the most fun nights I’ve ever had!


About Author

Emily Kelly

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May 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on L.Hargreaves@uea.ac.uk. Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.