Once you have decided to pursue a career in journalism, it’s important to choose the right training path for you. The NCTJ Diploma in Journalism is the qualification editors look for and will equip you with the skills to succeed. For the best chance of securing a job in journalism, studying for an NCTJ qualification will put you a cut above the rest.
We spoke to Calum Leslie for our careers guide, about his experiences. Calum graduated in 2013 with an MA in multimedia journalism from Gasgow Caledonian University. After university, he worked for BBC Scotland and BBC Radio 4 Today, and he now works as a reporter for BBC Newsbeat on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra.
How did your MA course prepare you for a job in journalism?
The NCTJ training on the course was invaluable. From media law, to shorthand skills and an understanding of public affairs, the subjects gave me the ability to go into newsrooms and put myself to good use right away.
Showing I was relatively surefooted also gave editors the confidence to give me proper work to get stuck into – along with making the odd round of teas, obviously.
Are there any aspects of your training that are particularly helpful in your role now?
It might seem pretty obvious, but media law is something I use every day. The importance of knowing where you are with defamation, contempt, court procedures and reporting restrictions cannot be overestimated.
Working for a programme like Today, where interviews are quickly picked up and shared more widely, you have to know these boundaries really well – or you can become part of the news, and not in a good way.
What advice would you give to any aspiring journalists?
Be enthusiastic. Don’t undersell yourself. If you have a good idea for a story, commit to it and make other people realise why it matters.
That said, always be willing to take criticism and advice. And watch what people who are really good at their job do on a daily basis; learn from all the little things.