Emily is currently deputy news editor at the Bristol Post – mainly looking after the running of the Bristol Post website, which was named Website of the Year at the 2013 EDF South West Media Awards.
Her writing career began with stints as a roving reporter for the daily paper at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and Science Festival, and as a reviewer and sub-editor on the official Glastonbury Festival website.
She started at the Bristol Post on work experience, then did Saturday shifts through her final year of university before doing her NCTJ training at News Associates in London, and securing a full-time position as a reporter.
Since then she has been a reporter, website editor and assistant news editor until taking up her latest role at the start of 2014.
As a trainee reporter she was named the NCTJ’s trainee feature writer of the year in 2009 at the annual Awards for Excellence and three years later picked up the title of young journalist of the year at the Regional Press Awards.
“When I was doing shifts at the Bristol Post, before I did any kind of official training, I got by. I could write a decent story and get through interviews with my own scribbled shorthand of sorts. I looked at how things were written in the paper and I copied them. I tried to notice what changes were made after I filed my stories and work out why.
“But I was winging it. I couldn’t be trusted with a court story and wouldn’t have had a clue what I was doing legally – not without some law training and getting my 100wpm shorthand under my belt. So I signed up for an intensive five-month course at News Associates, which was very hard work – but also really good fun. After my rather laid-back life as an English degree student it was like going back to school - doing 9-5 days was a bit of a shock to the system.
“What I loved about it was that it was so hands on. We had to produce mini-newspapers at what seemed like the drop of a hat, and churned out dozens of stories in one afternoon to practice our writing technique. They pushed us hard and got results. Most of my tutors were also working as journalists as we did the course – so they not only knew what they were talking about but knew exactly how things worked in newsrooms at very moment.
“Shorthand was a nightmare – I’m not going to lie. I sat on the train every morning and evening practising, I wrote my shopping lists in shorthand, I dreamed in shorthand (I’m not joking) and was relieved to scrape through my exam. But now I don’t know where I would be without it.
“Public affairs wasn’t the most thrilling of subjects but it stood me in good stead for reporting on local councils. Learning how to craft a news story was invaluable – and I can still hear my tutor standing at the front of the room shouting: ‘Make your intro SEXY!’
“I really enjoyed the law part of the course and have used what I learned on a regular basis – as a reporter to challenge section 39 orders, and on news desk to make sure my boss doesn’t get jailed for contempt! So for me it’s simple, really – I wouldn’t be where I am now in my career without having been through my NCTJ course.
“There is a whole lot more you will learn on the job – how to conduct an interview with a devastated woman whose grandson has been killed by his father; how to cover a complicated council meeting where you really don’t have a clue what they are talking about; how to stand up in court and tell a terrifying judge why you think they should do as you say; how to stay safe when you’re covering a volatile protest. But the NCTJ course gives you the tools you need to write up a legally sound, accurate and engaging story when you get back to the office – and that’s half of what makes you a good reporter.”