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Journalism training 2011

Sam Smith Sam Smith completed a fast-track NCTJ newspaper journalism course at News Associates in London and has since been working at the Brentwood Gazette in Essex. “I studied an undergraduate course in History and French at the University of Sussex and decided on a fast-track NCTJ course rather than a master’s degree purely because of time and money, it’s quicker. “I funded it with the help of a bursary from the Journalism Diversity Fund. “My course was really well run. It was very efficient and a lot of hard work. It gave you the sort of grounding you need for becoming a journalist. I did quite a bit of work experience there too. I worked in a couple of local newsrooms and I spent a lot of time at the Sunday Times and The Guardian as well. If I had to go about getting freelance work, I think that’s the only the NCTJ didn’t cover. “I got my current job because there was a vacancy advertised, I applied for it and got interviewed and that was that really. I started up a blog and put that down on my CV and the editor picked away at it and read it and thought it was good, so he maybe gave me a job off the back of that.”

Lowri Stafford Lowri Stafford completed a fast-track course in newspaper journalism at Harlow College and graduated in July 2010. She is now working at the Medway News. “I did an undergraduate degree in humanities at Greenwich and then opted for fast-track NCTJ course because it was just the quickest and easiest way really. “I think it was helpful for shorthand as well because I think that it’s always easiest to do it in a really quick intense course rather than drag it out over say three years. “It was really good. It was hard work and there was a lot to fit in a short period of time but I think in the long run it was a lot easier than doing it the long way. “It might be nicer to have more practical experience because it was quite a short www.pressgazette.co.uk 

course so obviously there was a lot of time spent in the classroom, and a lot of time studying so you didn’t really get much experience of actually applying the skills that you were learning. We didn’t get to go to court, or go to council meetings or anything like that. So I didn’t really get my first taste of that until I actually started employment. “We had to do one day a week work experience, and I did that where I’m employed now, at The Medway news. I did four weeks at BBC Inside out, and a week at Associated Press as well. “My advice is to look for an NTCJ accredited course, because I know of people who have chosen a course that’s not NTCJ accredited, and they’ve just had to start all over again. Get practical experience as well. I’m constantly using what I learnt.”

Sophie Maden Sophie Maden did the post graduate diploma in print journalism at Sheffield University after taking an undergraduate degree in French and English at Durham. She is now working as a reporter for Campaign and Media Week and wad sponsored during her training by the NCTJ Journalism Diversity Fund. “I thought the post-graduate diploma was brilliant.. It really went into depth on newspapers and how they work, but it also integrated a bit of social media, using

the web, patch reporting which was really good for generating your own stories, letting you be an individual reporter. We also did a multimedia project so we could find our own stories and we created videos around that. We created slideshows, and we created a little website too so we got to cover every aspect really. “I chose the diploma rather than a masters because I wanted practical journalism skills. I thought I could do that in nine months and then I could go off and get work experience which I think was more valuable that doing a dissertation. “My advice to journalism students is to be open to the whole industry. Don’t pave yourself into one sector of media; don’t think you’ll only every work in magazines because there so many different opportunities springing up and you should always be open to every element, social media and websites and digital media. Just keep your options open. “After my diploma I started of as an editorial intern at Moneysavingexpert. com. That’s obviously a consumerfocused website and I picked up a lot of different skills there, both in terms of writing and editing as well. Then I picked up some shifts at The News of the World web editing and did that for a year, as well as being a reporter for a local website in south London, the News Shopper. Now I’m at Campaign and Media Week. Because we spend a lot of our time working for the website I was able to combine the skills I picked up at Moneysavingexpert and at News of the World with all the reporting skills from the newspaper as well. ● Press Gazette October 2011 l 11


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