Last summer I had the immense pleasure to go to Madrid to embark on a journalism course specifically intended for wannabe journalists from all over the world.
When I was chosen to go to the sunny capital of Spain, I thought: "This is simply unbelievable! I'm gonna be writing about Arts & Culture in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet".
In a matter of time, on July 3rd 2016, I was on a plane to go to Madrid and I was extremely scared because I didn't know what to expect. Little did I know it would be one of the greatest experiences in my entire life.
At RoosterGNN Academy, a non-profit organization that supports journalism education worldwide, I gained lots of skills in terms of writing a news, an op-ed or reporting an event.
Everytime I was at the Academy I felt like a true journalist and that's mainly because the other journalists-to-be and me used to discuss ideas and how we were supposed to make our articles original, appealing and unique.
Our experts & mentors weren't university professors teaching journalism in a classroom, they were real journalists with a lot of experience and a lot of passion for their job.
Martin Roberts, the first mentor I got to meet during the seminar, has been working as a freelance journalist in Madrid for four years, in which time he has reported for five UK broadsheets. Before coming to Madrid in 2012, he has worked as a correspondent for press agency Reuters for 16 years, covering many topics such as, politics, current affairs, the environment, culture and economics. He has also got to interview the likes of George Bush, Fidel Castro and the Dalai Lama.
Mr. Roberts taught me there were three steps to write the perfect news: to be quick, clear and concise.
I was given a story and I had to write it again, paying attention to the numbers of words I was writing. It was definitely a tough job but it gave me so much confidence as I wasn't very keen on writing in English. I can proudly say I'm not afraid of writing an article in English and that's all thanks to Martin Roberts.
The second mentor I got to meet at RoosterGNN Academy was Spanish journalist Patricia Rafael Lage. For more than 14 years, she has been working and contributing as a reporter and fixer for five newspapers, El Día de Valladolid, ADN, Público, Eldiario.es and The New York Times; two digital websites, VICE News Spanish and Broadly Spain; and a weekly magazine called La Clave. She has covered a great variety of topics, ranging from politics, health, immigration and cultural affairs.
Ms. Lage taught me the difficulty of being a fixer for the New York Times: basically fixers have to gather data and infos, arrange interviews, be constantly up to date with the latest events. It's definitely a tough job.
Unluckily I didn't get to meet Benjamin Jones, who has been reporting on Spanish politics, culture, travel, sports, economics and business for the foreign press. He covered the Middle East, the former Soviet Union and the Gulf War. Furthermore, he has also worked for The New York Times, United Press International, The San Diego Union-Tribune, CNN International etc. I'm pretty sure he offered an international perspective to his students.
Another fantastic experience I wasn't able to live was visiting El Mundo's newsroom (one of the biggest and most popular Spanish broadsheets) and El Matadero Madrid (a cultural hub set in the Arganzuela district). There are absolutely two highlights of RoosterGNN's journalism internship seminar.
After my workshops with RGNN journalists, I was ready to write my four articles. I wrote about the current summer tunes, the biggest music events across Spain, the upcoming Harry Potter script book and Giuseppe Tornatore's latest movie "The Corrispondency". Before writing I had to explain the idea behind eacharticle to Pablo, our friendly seminar coordinator, and to my fellow journalists in training. That made me feel like I was working in a proper newsroom.
What I extremely liked about this journalism internship seminar was the international environment I was working in: I was living my dream with a great bunch of people coming from England, Latvia, Bulgaria, Austria, Romania and the USA, I improved both my English and my Spanish and I enjoyed Madrid and its history, its architecture, its culture and its people. Spanish people are incredibly nice, open-minded and they're constantly trying to make you feel at home. So if you like travelling, meeting new people and you would like to become a skilled journalist in the near future, you need to trust your instincts and embark on a marvelous adventure in Madrid!