Students learn what it takes to be a journalist at NCTJ Event

A group of local sixth form students got a taste of what it’s like to work in journalism at a careers event organised by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

Sixteen students from Newport Free Grammar School and Saffron Walden County High School were welcomed to the New Granary in Station Road, Newport, by Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ on Monday 28 January. 

She said: “We are keen for the NCTJ to play a role in our community and to build links with local schools that are as committed as we are to high standards.  We are delighted that sixth form students from Newport and Saffron Walden schools accepted our invitation to find out more about competitive career paths into journalism.”

Joanne outlined the role of the NCTJ in delivering the training scheme for journalists in the UK while Emma Clark, marketing and communications manager, explained the different career options within the media industry.

Lyn Jones, NCTJ head of qualifications, outlined the structure and content of NCTJ qualifications and Shevon Houston, events and website manager, explained how to research accredited courses and how to secure work experience.

Journalism Diversity Fund intern Lisa Nelson offered tips on making the most of work experience, based on her placements at the BBC, the Belfast News Letter and the Cambridge News, and gave the students a general knowledge quiz.

Daniel Barden, chief reporter of the Saffron Walden Reporter, explained what it was like to be a successful working journalist reporting on local issues.

After completing his NCTJ training at Harlow College, Daniel began his career at the East London Guardian and has also worked for The Daily Telegraph and The Independent on a freelance basis.

He also offered his advice to anyone looking for a job on a regional paper:

“If someone said to me ‘I like writing’ I’d probably tell you to go away and be a novelist. I think the most important thing is to have a passion for gossip, for local news and current affairs.”

Lucy Oliva, head girl at Newport Free Grammar School, said: “I will definitely be looking to complete my formal qualifications and make my way up as a journalist. The seminar has reinforced my determination to make it in the male-dominated field of sports journalism.”

George Kontou, from Saffron Walden County High, said: “A valuable experience ‘straight from the horse’s mouth, packed full of useful information about all aspects of journalism. It not only helped continue to inspire me, it helped me think about how I can realistically work towards it after university.”

See what other students thought of the event here.