Two months down

Journalism Diversity Fund recipient Felicia Pennant looks back at her first two months at News Associates and why an NCTJ qualification is so vital

By Felicia Pennant, Journalism Diversity Fund recipient 2013-14
Felicia Pennant photoI’m now almost two months into my journalism course at News Associates in London and am enjoying it immensely. The trials and tribulations of learning shorthand are crystal clear, especially as I naturally have the swirly, big handwriting that can make writing outlines slow and indecipherable. But I’m making progress.

The media law module has enlightened me about how the British legal system works and revealed just how easy it is to be sued as a journalist if the claimant has the time, money and patience.

With reporting, the pedantic details are proving to be most valuable. Ideal sentence lengths and when to make them passive and active, the six Ws (who, what, where, when, how and why) and quote use are some of the subtle ways that a story can stand out from the rest.

Current affairs is still to come and, as an avid football fan, I’m eagerly anticipating the sports journalism module. Constructing match reports and roundups will be an exciting experience and it was a deciding factor in my course choice.

Another factor for me was the part time timetable. I have a fashion role five days a week so I do the course on Monday nights and all day Saturday. I used to have boarding school lessons on Saturday and had weekend jobs as an undergraduate so it isn’t much of a sacrifice. It means that I can productively develop my professional career at the same time.

There is no way I would have been able to fund my course without the Journalism Diversity Fund. To get a journalism job, you need the NCTJ journalism diploma. Sure there are exceptions, but as a general rule you can’t progress to the top of the profession without it. Why wouldn’t you try your best and aim high?

I didn’t consider an NCTJ qualification seriously until after I had graduated from Central Saint Martins last summer and began interning. Initially I wanted to be a fashion journalist and thought a fashion history degree and varied internships would be enough.

But it became apparent that I lacked the official training, experience in other types of journalism, mentorship and the constructive criticism that would allow me to write and work in any situation.

I feel these qualities are important for a journalist to have and I am confident the NCTJ multimedia journalism course I’m doing will equip me with the knowledge, transferable skills and confidence to do well in the industry.

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