Tips on choosing a journalism course
Emma Clark, former marketing and communications manager for the National Council for the Training of Journalists, offers her advice on choosing between journalism courses.
Recently I've attended numerous careers fairs around the country, meeting students of all ages keen to break into journalism - whether that be in newspapers, television, radio or magazines. And of course, all students want to know which journalism course they should go on and whether they need NCTJ qualifications.
A quick look at the trainee job ads on HTFP demonstrates the importance of gaining the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism. Many adverts require candidates to have, or be awaiting results for, their NCTJ Diploma.
Trying to break into the industry without it makes a tough task almost impossible. With the rise in tuition fees, choosing the right journalism course is even more important than ever and students need to be sure they are learning the vocational skills required by employers, enabling them to hit the ground running when they enter the newsroom.
Employers know that an NCTJ-trained applicant will be able to find and construct stories, understand media law and ethics and be able to take down an accurate shorthand note when required. And contrary to popular belief it is not just the regional press looking for these skills, but nationals, online and broadcast too. Recent Sky Sports News schemes, for example, have been looking for practical skills including a minimum of 100wpm shorthand.
Student journalists can complete their NCTJ training in a number of ways - FE colleges and independent centres offer the Diploma in Journalism as fast-track and academic year courses, while universities offer it as part of undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications. All of these journalism courses lead to the same NCTJ qualifications and meet the same standard, allowing students to pick the one that's best for them.
It's no secret that the NCTJ has an exacting standard, and this applies not just to the qualifications but also to the course provider. All NCTJ-accredited courses have to work incredibly hard to meet the requirements in the same way that students have to work incredibly hard to achieve the gold standard. This ensures the NCTJ logo acts as a meaningful kitemark for quality journalism training.