She was presenting a plaque to a members of a local community group who had succeeded in getting one of the area's parks protected. This is a major scoop in my rather quiet patch and I felt like a proper reporter taking photos and running round with my notepad collecting names and quotes. I got excited when one person used the word "will" because I can write that in shorthand.
It's been two weeks since I embarked on the audacious task of becoming a journalist in 14 weeks at Brighton Journalist Works. The NCTJ consists of a gruelling set of exams and assessments each of which you'd expect to need at least a year to prepare for.
It's amazing though how much we've already learnt. In shorthand we've gone from learning the alphabet to learning how to write whole groups of words in single elaborate squiggles. It shows it is possible to write more that one word a second - essential if we're to achieve the target of 100 words-per-minute. The problem is remembering everything as the words come flying at you. At the moment it's hard to keep up with 40 WPM dictations of sentences we've already prepared.
This week we also learnt how to use freedom of information requests to obtain data that can be turned into exciting and potentially big money stories. This was part of the media law course which is much more lively and interesting than I expected.
Having been introduced to a potential treasure trove of data and statistics we received some words of caution on how journalists misuse them from guest speaker David Schey. He gave an entertaining talk with examples of how companies manipulate data to gain favourable press coverage and how the media misreports statistics. Examples included a proposal from Holiday Inn's marketing department to hire a mathematician to 'discover' a formula 'proving' that long weekends are the best kind of vacation, a story stating that 49% of British households have below average broadband speed and a pie chart on Fox News showing figures adding up to more than 100%.
We also spent a lot of time learning the nuts and bolts of the job. In reporting we practised taking the essential facts from interviews and press releases on a breaking story and putting them into a tight news report to a very strict word count. In production journalism we sharpened up our knowledge of good language and grammar. Having learnt what dangling modifiers are, they won't be appearing in my writing!
Next week we have our first visit to court to report on a case and I expect to have a couple of pieces in the Argus where the course is based. We also have a talk from journalist and blogger The Fleet Street Fox who appeared on last week's Question Time.
Finally I've found time to record another edition of Headstand: