NCTJ training gives you ‘important edge’ says Welsh Rugby chief

John Williams is the head of group communications for the Welsh Rugby Union Group.

The Welsh Rugby Union Group head of communications has spoken about how his NCTJ training helped him in his career. John Williams took up the position in 2007 after spending nine years as head of news at ITV Wales.

He has more than twenty-five years experience of working in television news and as a journalist for Fleet Street, regional newspapers and magazines.

John started his career as a reporter for the South Wales Echo in Cardiff, where he completed his NCTJ training. Following this, he did some freelance work in Cardiff before moving to London to work as a staff reporter for the Sunday Mirror.

Speaking about his training, John said: “I still constantly use the skills I learnt as an NCTJ trainee in my professional working life.”

“It gives you the confidence to know that your opinions and decisions are informed by a fundamental knowledge of correct practice and the basic rules of journalistic endeavour.”

While working at the Sunday Mirror, he reported on major news stories including the Brighton Bomb outrage and frequently operated as Newsdesk cover in senior editorial roles.

John later returned to Cardiff where he ran a freelance news and feature agency before entering the television industry. At ITV Wales he was in charge of mainstream management, budget control and strategic development, and also spearheaded a major restructure of the news operation including a £2.6 million investment in digital technology. Under his stewardship, ITV Wales News won the Royal Television Society Regional News Programme of the Year in 2003.

John says that his training still helps him in his work today: “I still surprise myself by occasionally using a simple, but specific, nugget of knowledge acquired all those years ago through the NCTJ to help as I try to win an argument during day to day professional debate.”

“That may not sound very profound, but it can give you an important edge when your job involves dealing with individuals who may not share that level of understanding.”

“Also, if you choose a profession which can involve posing questions to figures of authority in society then you need to know what you are talking about and you must be confident in your facts.

Looking back, John said: “My memories of the NCTJ course are based on constantly learning things of practical use and I look back with gratitude on how that focus has helped me.”

“The job is constantly changing but maybe the basic rules of engagement will not and that’s why the NCTJ training I had is as relevant to me today as it was all those years ago.”

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