When I did my journalism training, one of the most exciting and interesting tasks we were given was covering a simulated plane crash. This was a training exercise at Cardiff airport so that all the emergency services could practice co-ordinating in the event of a real plane crash or some random alien invasion. And we could practice reporting it.
To help us cover the story, we were issued with mobile phones and, bizarrely, a double decker bus. This being away in the ancient swirling mists of time (1994), the mobile phones came with a battery pack in a shoulder bag, to be shared between about a dozen of us. We sat on the top deck, swigging cider and taking turns at phoning our loved ones (“Helllooooo….you won’t believe this, but I’m actually calling you from a BUS!”).
The plane crash itself was surprisingly scary, as there really was a fuselage on fire on the runway, and assorted St Johns’ Ambulance volunteers looking green. At one point we hitched a lift with a policeman to a press conference. There was a brown envelope on the car’s back seat, which we immediately pinched. We had no qualms about doing this – as students at one of the finest journalism schools in the country, we naturally assumed that nicking stuff was an essential part of getting the story.
We hid behind an airport outbuilding to rip open the envelope and find out what the scoop really was. Secret operations plans? Police theories as to the reason for the fire? Well no, actually. It was the police tea break rota. But you know..we nearly had a story…
You will be glad to know that the Cardiff Journalism School class of 1994/95 are mostly doing senior things in media and are much more honest these days. Honestly.
Have you done journalism training recently? How has it changed?