Media writing May – Homework


Thanks to everyone who attended last night’s first workshop at CHIC Chester [pictured above].

There was some great debate about the use of interviews (see links below) and thought-provoking examples of the issues we face in our writing.

And there was homework to ponder before our next session in June.

So here’s the brief:

Please interview each other with a view to writing a 150-180 word intro (2-3 short paragraphs) to a profile-style feature (similar to the Kabul cab driver).

Think about colour, description and the use of direct speech. Try to find an angle on the story and bring out the human interest.

Deadline: Friday, May 29, 5pm. Please post your work as comments below this post for feedback from the group.

And to help you reflect on interview skills, check out these links to further reading:

BBC Academy: Interview skills

The readers’ editor on… defining the line between what is on and off the record

I look forward to reading your homework over the next weeks and welcoming some of you back for sessions in June and / or July.

If you have comments about last night’s session, please post then below. Thanks. 


  1. Bill Webster says:


    A straight-speaking lass from Doncaster, Becky (“Not Rebecca, please”) is a forty-something mother of two who lives with husband Steven near Tarporley. I ask about her primary school age children and her face lights up. “Yes, they are alright”. She is clearly devoted to her family.

    But Becky is not just a wife and mother. Becky is a band manager.

    “I actually get paid for it!” she says, her Yorkshire genes coming to the fore.

    After giving up photography when pregnancy prevented her lugging all the gear, Becky took a creative writing course at which the teacher recommended listening to music whilst writing.

    Cue R.E.M… followed by a trip to take in a tribute band called Stipe.

    “It was like walking into your own imagination.”

    And instead of walking right back out again, Becky found herself doing the band’s PR and then helping them to write a job description for a new band manager… and really there was only ever one person for the job.

    As we go our separate ways I say “Goodnight, Rebecca,” and bite my tongue.

    Bill Webster 26th May 2015

  2. Thanks for being the first one to post, Bill. So, what do the others think? Can you make any suggestions for ways to improve this? And please post your own work over the next few days.

  3. Becky Sowray says:

    Gun-Toting Tech Wizz

    “They must have thought I was some sort of weirdo,” said Bill thinking back to the crowd on his school bus.

    Life has seen Bill, born William Andrew McLean Webster, rooted in Cheshire by choice as his family grew. But childhood influences reach forward and his childhood bus reading of the niche American monthly magazine “Guns and Ammo” was destined to leave two definite marks on his future.

    Bill’s main career in IT grew from a cost saving exercise by an early employer. His natural aptitude and skills ultimately landed him the IT manager’s job when the previous incumbent was fired; to save costs.

    “It was no stress,” says Bill, “it was really easy.” His casual grace in this statement would not go amiss in the Wild West frontiers of his early imagination.

    That early interest in gun sports led Bill, after following the criminalisation of 22 calibre handguns with interest, to pursue air pistols as a competitive sport, becoming UK PSA champion for two years running.

    That other connection back, to the land of his youth? A startling imagination that makes him a stalwart and founder member of Vale Royal Writer’s Group. The group is one of the mainstays of the grassroots literary scene that flourishes across Cheshire.

  4. Journey to the 72

    What would it be like to take in a game at all 72 football league grounds in one season? Football journalist Shaun Best has done just that and shares the good, the bad and the ugly of a season on the road in his upcoming book.

    Two years ago Shaun Best was having a conversation with a well-travelled friend about all the places they had visited. He realised that he hadn’t been to many places at all, not even London since he was a child. That was all about to change.

    “I read a book about someone visiting lots of football grounds in a season and I wanted to give it a go and maybe do something different with that idea” Shaun said.

    A Manchester United fan, Shaun’s journey has taken him to every football ground in the championship and leagues one and two. An avid blogger and a supporter of the “twenty’s plenty” campaign to cap prices for away fans, Shaun’s upcoming book will provide insights that every football fan will identify with.

    Preston was fantastic. “It was a cold Tuesday evening in winter. Preston V Port Vale, a localish derby. Tickets for a fiver with friends. Great atmosphere. Five goals. The club has a great history and the lighting that night flattered the ground.”

    Bradford was a bitter disappointment. “I had a great seat high up in the Gods of the stadium and was looking forward to taking a few nice shots at the beginning of the second half. The stewards told me to stop taking photos. No explanation, and they hovered around me. I left early. I haven’t done that since I was a child”.

  5. I thought both Bill and Becky’s profiles showcased great rapport between interviewer and interviewee. There was a real feel good factor in reading both profiles. My suggestions would be for Bill to have come up with a title for the profile, and for Becky to have used Bill’s short name “Bill Webster” somewhere in the text, and to have used the full wording for PSA. Minor points – great writing skills from both – there are people with less talent than you both making money from writing!!!

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