Laura Garcia is one of the first graduates to gain the NCTJ broadcast journalism qualification. Originally from Mexico, she completed her training at the University of Kent and blogs about her experience.
Ever since I was little I knew I wanted to be a storyteller. As a teen I discovered the amazing power of journalism to connect people and decided to make it my life’s mission. After an extensive search for the right journalism school I found the University of Kent’s programme led by professor Tim Luckhurst.
I was immediately drawn to the school’s excellent staff and the opportunity to get my NCTJ diploma at the same time as my MA. It was a challenging year, but it gave us a real taste of the industry and the challenges we needed to be ready for. Shorthand, news days, reporting practice, media law and public affairs all gave us a complete panorama of the skills and knowledge we needed to master to break into the industry. My particular interest is in broadcast and the school’s programme with BBC Radio Kent allowed me two weeks of wonderful work experience with their Mid Morning show in Tunbridge Wells.
I was also lucky enough to join ITV Meridian’s team during the Olympic torch coverage and Channel 5 News later in the year. It all started as work experience, but hard work and persistence got me constant freelancing shifts at all three news outlets. My university qualification combined with my NCTJ training opened doors for me to get incredible opportunities in local radio, regional television and even network TV.
These past months I have had the opportunity to produce feature coverage, plan social media campaigns, help out in a TV studio, interview MPs, file and process hundreds of FOIs, organise live broadcasted events, and help out camera crews. I was able to point out that we couldn’t name an interviewee victim of Jimmy Savile unless we had written consent as per the Sexual Offences Act. My editors are always happy that I raise contempt issues and reporting restrictions at our planning meetings so our lawyers can provide guidance.
I’m not a senior journalist yet, but I feel confident to make my own decisions, ask educated questions, react to breaking news and take charge of a story. A year of full-on journalism boot camp tested me and my classmates and made us ready to jump into the industry. Most of my generation of MAs have found journalism jobs and are making their own way. It was hard, but it gave us the opportunity to experience the job as it is, without romantic notions of foreign bureaus and literary aspirations. It allowed us to experience the day to day diligence and decide whether we really wanted this to be our career choice. It is a choice I will never regret.
You can follow Laura on Twitter @lauragrb