Cardiff University students report on NCTJ’s annual signature event

Journalism Diversity Fund bursary recipients Ben Bostock and Katey Pigden, both studying at Cardiff University, were invited to report on the this year’s Journalism Skills Conference in Cardiff on 2 and 3 December.
The National Council for the Training of Journalists’ showpiece event brought together decision makers in journalism’s education, training and industry sectors. It featured a Question Time journalism skills debate, a talk on reporting devolution and a panel discussion about what it means to be a fully converged journalist. Awards for the top-performing NCTJ-accredited courses and the NCTJ’s Chairman Award were also announced.

Ben and Katey were asked to cover the journalism skills debate, held at the Wales Millennium Centre, with a mixture of writing, videojournalism and photography. The written reports from Ben and Katey are published below.

Ben Bostock

Time flies. Two months feels like a week. And what a productive two months it has been since starting the postgraduate diploma in newspaper journalism at Cardiff University.

From working a patch to learning about converging multimedia in journalism, there is almost nothing we haven’t covered in just the first term. It’s a very exciting time to be training as a journalist and I feel privileged to be part of the action.

I owe much of this opportunity to the Journalism Diversity Fund. Being accepted to study journalism at Cardiff in May and subsequently being awarded a bursary from the diversity fund has fuelled my burning ambition to become a qualified journalist.

What it means to be a qualified journalist is far beyond what I thought six months ago and extends way outside the newsroom. We have been taught to be proficient with all kinds of mobile technology and social media in various online formats in order to become the best eyes-and-ears journalists.

At the head of this, the most important thing we have learned is that the core skills of a journalist are as valuable as ever. This theme was paramount during the recent NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Industry experts with years of experience between them sat for a debate on journalism skills and the new age of journalism. Words like “multi-skilled”, “convergence” and “diversity” were top of the agenda and most memorably Mark O’Callaghan, head of news and current affairs, BBC Wales, said: “I celebrate the fact that journalists come from diverse backgrounds. This is right and proper and I am glad to say that our industry supports them”.

Thanks to the Journalism Diversity Fund, the path to becoming a professional journalist has been made much more accessible for me and I really look forward to the rest of my time training at Cardiff.

Ben, 24, from Carmarthen in west Wales, is studying a PgDip in Journalism at Cardiff University. After graduating from Leeds University in 2007 with a degree in Visual Communications, he decided that a change of direction was needed.

Inspired by his father who was a successful motoring journalist and editor, Ben decided to try his hand at freelance journalism. He began writing race reports for Autosport magazine and was later commissioned to write for Motorsport News. Ben has also undertaken work placements with the South Wales Evening Post, Maxpower magazine and the Carmarthen Journal.

Katey Pigden

For many years I have had the ambition to become a journalist. But it has always seemed like a distant dream. Now I feel I am one step closer to making that dream become a reality.

Having been accepted on to Cardiff University’s postgraduate diploma in newspaper journalism is probably my biggest achievement to date.

But I am indebted to the Journalism Diversity Fund for making it all possible. Without the bursary they awarded me, I wouldn’t be here living the dream. The journalism course is a fast paced, hard working, fun-filled and exciting environment to be in. And it has spurred me on even more to make sure I reach my goal of becoming a successful journalist.

We are learning a great range of skills from the fundamentals of journalism to how to produce journalism in the modern online world. The skills we are learning we are putting into action fast. We are learning on the job, and I love the challenge.

I was honoured to be involved with the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Conference at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff on Thursday, 2 December as it gave me a great opportunity to use some of the skills I have already acquired.

The talks from professional journalists were extremely inspirational and served as useful advice for fellow wannabe journalists and myself. I am thoroughly enjoying my training in Cardiff and cannot wait to get out there and do it all for real.

Katey, 22, from London, graduated from Brunel University in July 2009 having studied English with Creative Writing.

She undertook her first work experience placement with The London Newspaper Group at the age of 17, which strengthened her passion to become a journalist. Since then Katey has had a couple of placements with the Times Higher Education magazine. Katey is studying the PgDip in Newspaper Journalism course at Cardiff University.

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