Newspaper editor Darren Isted shares his top tips on how to succeed in newspaper journalism.
Darren has been editor of The Comet series since 2002 and editor of the Royston Crow since 2008. After studying International Relations at Keele University he joined The Comet as a junior reporter in 1988. Qualifying as senior reporter following a fast-track NCTJ course at Darlington College, he went on to take a sports editor role at the Herald and Observer series in Bedford and Milton Keynes before returning to The Comet series in North Herts and Mid Beds in 1998 where he has held every role except that of photographer! The Comet is a free weekly paper distributed to 90,000 homes with a readership of 150,000. It has a staff of 11.
Hints and tips
Darren said he would only recruit NCTJ qualified people, aspiring journalists need to back up their enthusiasm with qualifications as there’s a lot of competition out there. He said working on a weekly newspaper is almost like working on a daily now because of the requirement for updated material on the newspaper’s website. Video, audio, interviews etc need to be up-to-the-minute.
A large number of different jobs stem from the basic journalism training that can be gained on a regional weekly newspaper – sports commentator (John Motson e.g.) chat show host (Michael Parkinson e.g.).
When recruiting, Darren looks for:
- NCTJ pre-entry qualifications, and 9/10 times recruit with these qualifications
- Good work experience background. Shows someone who has acted on what they’re saying
- If someone is on work experience on his paper, looks for a person who gets stuck in answering the phones
- Although there aren’t any particular A Levels or degree subjects he would look for, Darren said that English is good to see on an application.