https://commonshansard.blog.parliament.uk/2020/07/17/hansard-is-recruiting-what-its-like-to-be-a-committee-reporter/

Hansard is recruiting: what it’s like to be a Committee Reporter

Hansard is recruiting for Committee Reportersnow! Applications are open until 28 July and we’re excited to hear from you. But first you might want to know a bit more about the role from someone who already does it. Committee Reporter Helen shares her experiences in this blog post. 

A string to my bow 

In October 2015, I set off into London for a rare night out. I had been booked on a tour of the House of Commons and was looking forward to my visit. I had been working from home as a writer, translator and proofreader for almost 10 years and, while I imagined the visit would extend my historic knowledge, I didn’t think it would add a new string to my professional bow. Six months later, I started a training course to work at Westminster, as a Committee Reporter for Parliament’s Official Report. 

When the advertisement appeared on the House of Commons website, I thought the opportunity looked both interesting and flexible. As the mother of two small children, the latter was important, and the one day a week position—working a Tuesday and only when Parliament was sitting—was tempting. My background in languages and content seemed to fit the bill, and some transcribing experience in the past made me think I could at least have a go. 

The application process 

An application form, some practical tests—including an audio test with the sound of Big Ben in the background—and an interview later, I joined two new reporter colleagues to learn about parliamentary reporting. With some background reading under our belts, we launched into two intense weeks of training. After lots of practice, proofing and questions, we were ready to start in the new role.

Doing the job 

The job consists of supporting Hansard’s full-time reporters on busier days, contributing to the production of the Official Report of the House of Commons proceedings. We record what is said in meetings in Parliament, which range from Select Committee evidence sessions to Public Bill Committees. Each meeting type has its own particular style and language and, just like everyone else at Hansard, we follow clear guidelines regarding procedure, format and style.  

When talking to my co-reporters, who also work on Tuesdays, we all agree that while Hansard has made us better writers and editors, an unexpected—but gratifying—benefit of being a parliamentary reporter has been the chance to work as a team. Our reports, covering five minutes of speech, are part of a greater whole, and we are actively encouraged to communicate with colleagues working on the same sections as us, learning from them and their experience in the job. We have also received further training on particular elements of the job, including parliamentary procedure and the finer points of Hansard style—all great preparation for developing your role and becoming a full-time reporter. I hear there might be some full-time posts coming up next year…

A Select Committee evidence session (photo: parliamentlive.tv)

Bonus points 

The position has also given me access to lots of different experiences, from observing reporters as they recorded momentous debates in the Chamber to working through election night in 2019 supporting the House of Commons Library’s work. A further bonus has been making use of my Welsh-language skills when MPs make contributions to debates in my first language. It’s safe to say that back in October 2015, I didn’t imagine any of that happening, but I’m glad I booked that visit that brought me to Hansard.

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