25 January 2015

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Training Matters: From trainee to news editor in five years

This week’s blog is by Lucy Pearce, 25, who was recently promoted to news editor at The Argus in Brighton. She graduated from an NCTJ-accredited degree course in 2009.


If someone had told me five years ago that I’d be the news editor of a regional daily today, I wouldn’t have believed them.

Five years ago, I would have still been in my final year of a journalism degree hopelessly checking for trainee reporter vacancies on HoldtheFrontPage without much luck.

Without a reporting job in sight after graduating, I threw myself into the world of work experience.

Already being NCTJ qualified, thanks to attending a university where I could sit my prelim exams alongside my degree, meant I was able to get on with what was expected of me with confidence.

I was familiar with news writing, my knowledge of local government and law was solid and my shorthand was up to speed thanks to the training I’d received.

That, coupled with the work experience behind me, meant I was prepared for landing my first job at the Dorset Echo in Weymouth when a position came up.

I was living in Southampton at the time but not even the two-hour commute could put me off.

Just two years after joining and once I had passed my NCE (now NQJ), I took the decision to leave the paper to enhance my experience.

From there, I joined Bristol-based South West News Service. Six months later I was promoted to news editor for the agency’s Devon and Cornwall office based in Plymouth and eventually – within a year – I got a taste of shifting on the nationals.

I decided the lifestyle in London wasn’t for me at a time when a job came up as assistant news editor at The Argus in Brighton which I successfully applied for.

Being so young and walking into a management role wasn’t easy and I felt like I had to work twice as hard to gain respect, but I surprised myself with how much experience I had gained in a short space of time.

I’m confident my team recognised this who in turn cut me some slack, as well as recognising other benefits of having a young person in an assistant news editor (and now news editor) role, such as energy and enthusiasm which is certainly needed.

Much of my team is fairly young too, which means I can relate to them in a different way because it wasn’t long ago that I was in their shoes.

I often see graduates come in to The Argus to do work experience now, and many complain about how difficult it is to find a job. To these graduates, I’d simply say there are opportunities out there but unfortunately these are often few and far between and so sacrifices have to be made.

I’ve lived in five counties in the past five years, leaving family, friends (both new and old) and partners behind. I’ve been out of my comfort zone in every role I’ve taken on and suffered many sleepless nights. For the earlier part of my career, I barely had enough money to live and above all, work always came first before my personal life.

But I’ve also experienced some character-building and life-changing experiences since the start of my career and the end result is a job I’d never dreamed of having at 25.

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    1. Sunny south

      I hope she checks her reporters’ copy more thoroughly than this blog…

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    2. Bryce, Newbridge

      Left behind friends, family and partners? Perhaps she’s too young to realise such sacrifices cut no ice with management at staff-pruning time. If they consider she’s expendable — and, let’s face it, the bean counters consider all journalists to be so sooner or later — she may find she gave up a heck of a lot for not much at all.

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    3. kenmont

      From trainee to newsdesk in five years to on the dole in six probably – that’s journalism for you!

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    4. Confused

      Without minimising the challenges facing the industry it is still nice to hear about someone, and I am sure there are many more out there, achieving their goals and enjoying their job.
      Can I stick my neck out here and just wish Lucy good luck?

      Report this comment

    5. Chris, Lewes

      As a former Argus News Editor (1981-89), I wish Lucy all the luck in the world.

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    6. LOL

      This is fairly standard right? Some faster some slower.

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    7. Kelly, West Midlands

      Is there any need for the bitter comments? Good luck to you Lucy and well done for getting to where you are now.

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    8. Babbett

      It would be nice if some comments on this blog weren’t so damned negative. Give the girl credit – she’s landed a responsible management job after only five years. I hope she goes on to prosper and make it to the editor’s chair one day.

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    9. Good Luck

      Redundancies saw me go from trainee reporter to de facto deputy editor in under a year, although I didn’t get the associated pay rise and title for another two (and it was on a small title).

      Still, shows where we are as an industry…

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