Alex Crawford, special correspondent for Sky News and patron of the NCTJ, has offered her advice for aspiring journalists in a video for the NCTJ.
The video marks the NCTJ’s support for Journalism Matters week which starts today and highlights the vital role trusted news media journalism plays in our democratic society.
In the video, Alex explains how she got into journalism applying to “virtually every regional newspaper in the country” before being given a chance by Adam McKinley, editor of the Wokingham Times.
Alex described Adam as a pivotal person in her career, and explained how he placed high importance on training, setting aside money for all trainees to go through NCTJ training and learn skills such as shorthand.
Another person who was very important to Alex was Walter Greenwood, co-author of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists, who taught her media law and stressed the importance of realising there were stories all around you.
Alex said: “Those traits and lessons have stayed with me all my career.”
Drawing on her experiences, she said: “I feel very strongly about the importance of learning and training at the grassroots level.”
She added: “I think it’s very difficult to have the confidence [and] all the weapons you need as a journalist if you’re jettisoned straight to a very big field.
“For me, it was very important to go to town council meetings, district council meetings and to be the only person in the office when the members of the public came in to complain about what you’ve written.
“It was a perfect ground to make mistakes and learn about what is important, because every story has a local beginning and will have started somewhere small.”
Giving her advice to anyone starting out in journalism, she said: “Don’t think too big too quickly, you’re going to harm yourself and find it difficult, try to remember to take it slow.
“We’re all hungry, we all want to learn fast but sometimes you just have to do the training, you can’t go straight to running a marathon, we have to do the training beforehand.
“It will help you and it will help the industry in the end.”