Saying my goodbyes to the Croydon Citizen

By - Friday 20th April, 2018

Reflections on three months spent as a student journalist in Croydon

Photo by Julie Zumsteg, used with permission.

Picture the scene. A whistle as a train is about to depart. The clicks of high heels running and luggage trying to keep up with its owner. Indistinct chatter.

The beeps as people tap in and out. “See it. Say it. Sorted.” Hustle and bustle, hundreds of people looking up at the giant, orange timetables.

This is London Victoria on 15th January 2018.

I checked that my lipstick was free of any smudges

Platform 17. I read the timetable. I Googled it. I Googled it again. I tapped in, and my high heels clicked along with all the others. I found a seat, opened up the camera on my phone, and checked that my lucky blue suit jacket was free of lint, my short brown hair was free of any stray strands, and my bright red lipstick was free of any smudges.

My heart was pumping. I was ecstatic to be in London. This was my dream of becoming an international political reporter, and I was finally in the city I had fallen in love with from 5,000 miles away.

It started to rain as we left the platform. I watched eagerly as we passed over the river Thames. It’s a short ride from London Victoria to East Croydon, one that I would take often during my time interning at the Croydon Citizen, though I have switched my commute around, depending on what view I wanted to pass by.

I arrived two hours early… I was determined not to be late

“Don’t be late to your first day at your internship.” That I wasn’t. I arrived early. To clarify, (and Tom Black, my manager, doesn’t know this) I waited two hours at East Croydon station. I passed the time by people-watching and getting a takeaway. I eventually walked into the building, which I had only ever seen before on Google Maps.

I was excited, nervous, anxious – but most of all, I was ready to get started. I wanted to make a good impression. I knew what I could do as a journalist, and I was ready to prove it. Most importantly, though, I wanted to make my mom, my sister, my aunt Robbie, aunt Lori, my cousin Rebecca, and my grandpa Conrad and grandma Shannon proud. They helped me to get here, and I didn’t want to let them down.

Tom spent the first day talking about local issues and showing me around Croydon, and to this day it still reminds me a lot of my home in downtown Phoenix: the proximity of everything, the tram that takes you directly to the town hall and the shopping area. We even have the same bins. How cool is that? (Did I just get excited about bins?) It felt familiar, and I knew that I would like it here.

I was ready to write about the stories that mattered to Croydon

I learned the style guide, I learned the editing software, and then I started looking for pitches. My motto as a journalist is ‘covering what matters. Anytime. Anywhere’. I was in London. I was ready to write stories that mattered to the community.

The Croydon Citizen has provided me with countless opportunities to do this.

I won’t talk much about the content of the stories that I’ve written, since as a journalist I need to be unbiased. I will talk about how the Citizen has helped me to grow as a reporter, and how I was able to contribute to the team.

I’ve walked up and down the halls of parliament, and been in and out of town hall

Through my time at the Citizen I’ve been fortunate to do both print and broadcast work by creating videos for social media. I was excited to add footage from my time in London to my resumé reel.

I’ve been up and down the halls of parliament, and in and out of Croydon Town Hall.

I’ve been in and around Croydon (we won’t talk about the time that I got stuck in a car park for thirty minutes and almost sounded the emergency alarm because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get out and make a deadline) and up and down George Street.

There’s nothing like the rush of being a reporter in London

I talked to people. I listened to stories. I got to know what issues mattered most to our audience. There’s nothing like the rush of being a reporter in a big city like London at twenty years old.

I got the chance to be fully immersed in the city where I eventually want to work. This internship has given me so much experience, and I’m thankful that I was able to pitch stories that I wanted to cover and to make this experience my own.

As my time interning at the Croydon Citizen comes to an end, I must say that it went quicker than I thought it would, but I am glad not only that I was able to report on such an amazing community, but also that I was able to impact the newspaper during my time here by covering the kind of stories that I did.

Croydon is now my home away from home

Picture the scene. A whistle as a train is about to depart. The clicks of high heels running and luggage trying to keep up with its owner. Indistinct chatter.

This is London Victoria on 20th April 2018.

I am on my way to Croydon for the last time. The town that I have grown to love even more is now my home away from home. I could write a book about the impact that reporting abroad while in school has had on me. Who knows, maybe one day I will. I will graduate from university in a year, and hopefully the next time that you see me in London, I’ll be behind the anchor desk on your TV screens… but until then, that’s a wrap.

Holly Bernstein

Holly Bernstein

Holly Bernstein is a political reporter born and raised in Arizona. Back home she is a broadcast political reporter and presenter on Arizona PBS. She is in London chasing her dreams of covering politics around the world and believes in covering what matters anytime, anywhere.

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  • Mark Johnson

    So glad you enjoyed your time in Croydon. The Croydon Citizen is one of many great things to emerge in this great city in the last few years and we are all proud of what Tom and team have achieved. Good luck with your studies.