#ChooseNCTJ: Sky Sports News director urges students to choose NCTJ-accredited courses

With so many different journalism courses to choose from, it’s so important that students are able to make an informed choice to study on a course which will prepare them to succeed in journalism.

Employers can have confidence in journalists who have studied on NCTJ-accredited courses, obtaining the skills needed to hit the ground running in the newsroom.

We spoke to Mark Alford, who has recently been appointed as director of Sky Sports News:

What does an NCTJ qualification mean to you as an employer?

It’s a kitemark for standards and skills. It offers an assurance that NCTJ-certified journalists understand the challenges and issues that will face them in the newsroom and in the field.

No qualification can prepare journalists for everything – that comes from experience doing the job – but this gives editors and other newsroom leaders confidence.

Do you notice a difference in skills between those who have been NCTJ-trained and those who have not?

Yes, especially in matters of media law and public affairs.

What advice would you give to students looking at journalism courses?

Make sure you study a course that is NCTJ-accredited. And work hard on your shorthand. It is such an under-valued skill. It’s also bl**dy difficult.

How do you feel NCTJ training aided your own career?

It gave me my first contacts. I’m still in touch with many of my course-mates.

It also gave me the confidence to identify legal dangers. There’s nothing wrong with referring up with legal concerns. There’s everything wrong with ignoring them or not spotting them.