Work Experience: yourCardiff Day 1

Posted on August 29, 2012

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I found out about yourCardiff months ago when I found on Twitter their account was asking for writers. I figured it would be a good chance to practice what I was learning, and I got in touch. I met with Jessica Best a few weeks later. She explained that she wanted to meet all the guest bloggers in person and work out what was best for each of us. Shortly after this first meeting, I was sent off to cover the Cardiff Bake-Off, which I blogged about previously. Since then, I’ve written reviews and a few other pieces, all great experience. But I wanted to find out what happened at the other end. When I’ve written my piece and sent it off, what does Jess do with it? What does her job entail? So I asked if I could join her for a couple of days to learn even more about how a community site like yourCardiff runs, and to quiz her about its success.

I was asked to arrive at 10am at Media Wales this morning. I arrived and walked into the building, and was sent to pick up a day pass. The receptionist was really lovely and gave Jess a ring. Unfortunately, Jess was away from her desk, so I had to wait a little while, but I was in the office by 10:30am.

I was then shown around the office with fellow work experience student (and fellow MA student!) Tom Wakeham, and was explained to that there are no trainee positions available at Media Wales and even if there were, neither of us would be able to have them, as the MA we’ve taken did not offer us NCTJ training. Without this, we’re informed, we’re unlikely to get a job in the industry.

From here, I returned to my desk next to Jess, where she showed me around the yourCardiff site, which I am already familiar with, but for the sake of easing into the day and walking before I can run I went through it all. Jess then showed me that although the site is part of WalesOnline, the yourCardiff site is actually hosted through WordPress! It was comforting to see the dashboard and to be able to recognise different areas.

Whilst we’re running through how to post on the site, Jess is constantly checking Twitter and Facebook. Whilst she is doing this, a Twitter user sends a photo of a car on fire behind Cardiff Central Station, with the caption explaining that the fire brigade were on the scene quickly. Jess gave me the number for the fire dept and the ambulance so I can gather information about the incident. I was nervous about doing this, as it was following up real leads for a story, and it was my responsibility. In the meantime, Jess tweeted back to ask the user if we could use his photo and she called the Police to get similar information from them. I got through to the fire department and asked the questions Jess asked me to. I then phoned the ambulance line but reached voicemail. I gave the information to Jess who asked me a follow-up question I hadn’t asked. So I rang the fire department back. I felt a little foolish, but realised that the first time I did it, it wasn’t going to be perfect. I asked a few more questions and this time Jess was happy. I was glad it was over, but I was also really pleased that I’d done it.

Jess then asked me to write a few lines to put a story with the photo, which we now had permission to use. I put together something quite basic, and Jess helped me edit it into a better story. This story can be found here. This will eventually be published under my name rather than ‘yourCardiff’ though this will not be in effect for a couple of days.

A map was added to the article, as it adds the map location to the overall map of articles and on the homepage demonstrates how the site covers Cardiff. I didn’t realise how easy it was to add map data to a story! The I had learnt with Joni seemed to make the process harder rather than easier.

Jess talked to me about SEO and posting to social media. We discussed the social media policy that Jess has set up and how she is currently writing an extension of it with regards to Facebook. This interests me greatly, especially after helping to write a social media policy for Ridge Radio.

After an hour’s lunch break, Jess and I looked more thoroughly at the new Facebook policy she’s writing. It’s incredibly formatted with certain things being posted at certain times by certain departments to ensure that Facebook users timelines are not clogged. It also means that people know what to expect at what time. It really opened my eyes to just how strict social media policies can be.

We also tackled a Storify article. I’ve used Storify before, but Jess showed me how to use it more efficiently and showed me some tips and tricks. Now, instead of avoiding Storify like the plague, I look forward to using it in future. The story we put together can be found here.

Jess then gave me the laborious task of writing about a forthcoming event. It wasn’t a hard task, just a long one. It took me a good couple of hours, as it covers events spanning the whole of September and the website with the information on it, was not well formatted, so it took me longer than it should have done. Tomorrow, the piece will be posted along with a detailed map. This was something Joni tried to teach me, but I struggled to get my head around.

Before I left, I asked Jess about how successful the site was and whether it was worthwhile doing. She showed me the figures since she started last July. The number of visitors has doubled and the number of individual page views has tripled. What she’s doing is working. She explained that she really enjoyed running the site and she can see that the community needs it. Though when asked if it benefitted the company, she wasn’t so sure. There are plans in the works that could turn yourCardiff into a profitable website, but as it stands, it makes no money.

I’m really looking forward to my second and final day tomorrow. Jess has invited me to return at a later date, when there’s more going on in her diary. She also mentioned that she wanted to start a podcast, and with my radio knowledge, I might be interested in helping her, which, of course, I would be.

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