So we have just come back from a two week placement at a magazine. Mine was at Stuff, working on their website.
The placement was great. They treated me like a (rather inexperienced) staff writer from the first day. I learnt to use their CMS (Content Management System), the writing style (chatty, celebratory and filled with bad puns) and how to present tech specs in an interesting and accessible way.
On a typical day I got in at 9:30 and started looking for news by trawling tech blogs and sites, twitter and anything else that might be relevant. Usually I would bash out at least one before the newspapers arrived.
When they turn up, we divvy them up between the team and trawl through for any tech stories. The FT is most likely to produce a story, although The Sun and The Times often gleam something too.
After that it is back on the news and working through any press releases that come in. On a typical day I got to do 3-4 stories.
Sometimes you have to get up a story as fast as possible. When Apple announced their launch date for the iPad 3 (or what everyone thinks will be the iPad 3), I was allowed to do the main piece, which meant writing as fast as possible. The story didn't need to be long, but it needed to be up.
Other stories are just fun or silly. Memorable favourites for me include a cupcake vending machine, the first SNES game in over a decade and a Kinect-powered shopping trolley.
The best moment was when they let me do an opinion piece. After having our opinions beaten out of us at PMA, it was amazing to actually use mine! The result? "The iPad 3 has a serious rival in Windows 8". I was expecting lots of angry Apple fanboys telling me how wrong I am, but the few commenters seem to agree. Hooray!