I don’t know how I forgot to include this in my ramblings but I PASSED MY NCTJ!
We got the results of the final exams back on February 27 and my NCTJ was completed with an A in Court Reporting and B in Production Journalism. Seven years since I decided to do an NCTJ and it’s all over. Very surreal.
And to mark this right of passage, here’s a picture of me interviewing Ken Livingstone. That’s a double chin of distinction right there.
The results of the reporting exam are finally in and I PASSED with 64%! I’m chuffed but it’s a bittersweet moment because, with only two exams and month left of my course, it hails the end of my student days. And the start of job-hunting in one of the most competitive industries in the country.
Now I’ve passed reporting and shorthand, the two hardest exams in the qualification, I can start applying for positions as a fully-fledged reporter. So, if you’ve heard of anything coming up…drop me a line!
If you’ve been following the Leveson Inquiry, a discussion that happened on December 8 on the types of journalism training on offer may have passed you by. But for the journalism industry it was hugely important. University lecturers were brought in on the day to discuss ethics training in the industry. In the morning, their discussion turned to types of training and the standard qualification from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) came in for a hammering.
Despite the panel’s obvious invested interest, their criticisms have been levelled for years against the board, which runs the qualification I am taking. Young journalist website Wannabe Hacks tweeted asking for a person on one of their courses to write about its advantages and disadvantages and I jumped at the chance. You can see the article here.
Just to clarify, I attempted to be balanced in the article and the criticisms I assessed were not necessarily my own. I’ve enjoyed my course immensely and have no complaints about the teaching. For me, the NCTJ is still the fastest, cheapest and safest qualification in journalism and gives a solid basis in all areas. I hope that came across.
These are all the reasons I haven’t been blogging much recently, what an absolute fail. December has been an insane month so far. It started with my birthday, which was lovely, followed by law and public affairs exams, which weren’t. These were quickly followed by a Christmas panic and a sudden onset of Norovirus, which had me laid up for the last week.
I’ve also started a temporary Christmas job waitressing in Harrods. It’s hard work but celebrity spotting keeps me happening. Last week I had a lovely chat with Rupert Grint about Harrods’ Harry Potter World. I was tempted to give him my card but figured losing my job before Christmas wasn’t a great plan.
My work experience placement at The Surrey Comet ended today, which was quite sad. Working there was a great experience and I’ll miss the Friday office banter. To plug the gap, I’ve organised another Friday placement at The Wimbledon Guardian for the new year. Changing patch will be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it.
Incredibly, after Christmas I will only have three weeks left of my NCTJ course. It seems unbelievable after 3 years of a degree that it’s only taken a couple of months to get my most useful qualification. The prospect of the job hunt is making me panic, so I’m saving that until the new year. Especially because reporting exam results aren’t back yet…expect an emotional post when they are.
Yesterday my course got even more hardcore when we were assigned patch work. No, not the grandma-chic sewing technique. It’s journalist slang (we’re so cool) for being assigned a small area to report from. We were put in groups and told to pick a patch out a hat. My group got…Wandsworth. Not the most glamorous borough, but definitely newsworthy. We hopped on the train straight away to get a feel for the area and there is definitely a lot of news to be rustled up.
Every member of the group needs to write their own story for our editor to assemble on our ‘patch page’. So the challenge is to get story ideas, find ones that will be suitably long and varied and make it all look very pretty and professional. In just over 2 weeks. Best get on it!
P.S. If you live/have relatives in/know anything about Wandsworth some info or a contact would be great.
Today was officially my first day as a trainee journalist. And it was fantastic. News Associates seems like a great college and they do not mess around. We started the day with plenty of coffee, biscuits and introductions, but by 1.30pm we were in an intense shorthand lesson and two hours later, we were hurled onto the street under orders to find a story and report back within the hour. This is definitely what being thrown into the deep end feels like. But I’m loving it, it feels like such a practical and dynamic course. We’re not just learning about journalism, we’re living it and by all accounts that’s what you really need in today’s job market. So noone’s complaining!
I got sent out on the reporting assignment with two other trainees and rather than turning towards the centre of Wimbledon with the crowd, we decided to go in exactly the opposite direction. Our first calling point was South Wimbledon tube station and we called into the cafe to see if we could pick up any stories or leads. Nothing had occurred so, having heard that there was a film studio in the area, one of the members of our group asked for directions to it. The lady in the cafe said it was a 10 minute walk down the road and kindly gave us some free pastries (the pain au chocolat was delicious) and we set off. Unsurprisingly, we got lost a few minutes later and asked a passing businessman for directions. Disappointingly, he said he’d never heard of the studio and walked on. But a few seconds later, he turned back and casually remarked “I don’t know about any studios, but the set of The Bill is just around the corner”.
We followed his directions and suddenly, we were at Sunhill. The police station and hospital set of the long-running TV show was sitting in the middle of an industrial estate completely open and untouched. On closer inspection, the police station set was still fully kitted out with props like folders, phones and signposts. It was incredible, but it was deserted, and the second part of our assignment was to talk to a stranger and have our photo taken with them. Luckily, a man wearing full black, earphones, a mic and looking extremely important stormed out from behind the building. Clearly, the studios were still in use. We quickly jumped him and he kindly agreed to the photo and talked to us briefly. His name was Tiernan and he was working on the set of a short film called ‘Counting Backwards’, which is apparently by a highly reputed writer. Watch this space.
By that point we were running out of time so we made our way back to the college in time to hear everyone else’s reports. People had picked up all sorts of stories, from a chewing-gum heist at Morrison’s to NDubz buying £7,000 of fishing eqiupment from a local shop. And yes, both of those were confirmed. Maybe an early career in regional journalism will be more exciting than I thought…
Bring on tomorrow.
Sorry for another long break between posts, considering my degree has ended it’s been a surprisingly stressful couple of weeks. I handed my final work in on the 23rd of May and have been battling all the important things I’d put off ever since. But it’s all sorted now, including my work experience placement for my NCTJ. As part of the course I need to attend a weekly work experience placement on a paper and I’ve finally managed to get a place at The Richmond and Twickenham Times. Should be good!
I’ve got two and a half weeks left at university and am making the most of the student papers while I’m still here. It’s production week for my last issue of The Lemon Press, I’ll be sad to leave it behind. Moving to London and starting the course still doesn’t quite seem real but I’m already getting excited.
Term’s started, the student media is gearing back up and I’m writing again. In light of the upcoming referendum on electoral reform, I wrote this article for York Vision about why we can’t let the ‘no’ campaign’s use of Clegg bashing blind us to the real decision at hand.
The latest edition of The Lemon Press was published last week, including an article I wrote in response to David Willetts’ absurd claim that feminism causes male working class unemployment. And a rap by Brian ‘banter’ Cantor. Being involved with the editing for the first time was great fun, can’t wait for the next issue. Unfortunately the magazine hasn’t been published online yet, but I’ll add it to the catalogue when it appears.
Sorry there haven’t been any posts of uploads recently, it’s the university holiday and I’ve been up to my eyeballs with essays and exam revision. I’ll be writing again from next week onwards when term starts and some new publications will be popping up. Recently, I was invited to write for Itchy York, which is a new branch of the Itchy Cities reviewing site. They’ve got sites dedicated to most UK cities and the writing is unique. Great if you like your reviews snappy and fun.
Also, I got accepted onto the Newspaper Journalism NCTJ at News Associates! I’ll be starting in September, can’t wait!
In slightly more sensible news, I had my entrance test at News Associates today for a NCTJ in Newspaper Journalism. I really enjoyed the interview and I think the exam went fine so fingers crossed! Hopefully I will know the result by the end of this week.