11 September 2015

It's been a journey

"Can we please not use words like intergenerational," said Roberta as she loomed large behind me, looking over my shoulder at my screen.

I had crafted a rather spectacular headline stating that a large homebuilder plans to target the 'intergenerational living sector'.

I don't really think it was spectacular - but one of the key lessons I've learnt over the past two months is that I must have more confidence in my journalistic offerings. So let the positive thinking begin.

Roberta's words will always stick with me: "They may speak using business jargon, but it doesn't mean you have to write it."

"But what if I would also say that?" I asked.

At that moment I was genuinely convinced that I do say 'intergenerational living' quite regularly in my everyday conversations.

But when Roberta burst out laughing and asked when those words have ever come out of my mouth, I realised she was right. So I changed 'intergenerational living' to 'family living'. Which is exactly what it is in plain English.

In a previous life as a diplomat I briefed government ministers on policy, drafted briefings for the Queen, and letters for the prime minister to send to the Chinese president. I spent a year as a Minister's aide, which is incredibly high pressure and hectic. In 2010 I flew to the moon with my cat, Mo.

One of those is untrue.

But I can honestly say that this course has been one of the greatest challenges of my life.   

And of the numerous things I've learnt over the last nine weeks, Roberta's words will always be at the forefront of my mind: "If you wouldn't say it, then don't write it."

I hereby declare that the first rule of journalism.

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