A bit of a busman’s holiday earlier this week when I attended a three hour Guardian Masterclass hosted by Jay Rayner on the craft of journalism. I was meant to be going with my 17 year old son – a bit of a foodie who enjoys Jay’s restaurant reviews – but it was suddenly rather less appealing after a full day’s study. No stamina the young!
As you might expect, Jay’s an entertaining speaker with 25 years of writing experience to showcase. i particularly enjoyed the ‘practice what I’ve preached’ session in the second half. Jay interviewed guest participant David Coulter (formerly of The Pogues) and we had 20 minutes to draft our opening lines to the ensuing article.
I got it done in 5 and then read my Evening Standard but there were people still scribbling and furiously crossing out after the 20 minutes were up.
The submissions were typed up and projected onto the big screen for Jay to critique and, ultimately, compare with his own proposed opening. It was an instructive and entertaining session in which Jay had to concede that his chosen angle into the story had been done rather more more concisely and (dare I say it) more expertly than his own wording.
Not by me I regret to say.
Jay’s assessment of my attempt was that it had merit but was “overly complex”. A little less reading, a little more crafting might have been a better way to spend my time!