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Training Matters: A week in the life of new apprentice

The Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Journalism is the first apprenticeship scheme for journalists developed by the NCTJ and employers in the media industry. Eleven journalist apprentices have begun their training at Lambeth College. Five have been recruited by Archant London, i, the Independent; Kent Messenger Group and the London Evening Standard, with the remaining six being taken on by BBC Radio.

In this week’s blog, Kent Messenger’s chief reporter and mentor Angela Cole and apprentice Dan Wright share their thoughts about the first week of the new scheme. Dan, 18, is from Ashford, where he attended the Towers School.

Angela Cole, chief reporter and apprentice’s mentor at Kent Messenger

Having been in journalism for several years, it would be fair to say variety is one of the best aspects of the job. So it didn’t involve any special preparation from me as mentor to arrange a varied programme for our apprentice’s first week: interview a fully made-up pantomime dame; sit through some harrowing inquests and attend a protest rally.

They were all things on our diary, so as part of his introduction to the job, the best thing was for him to see what he had let himself in for. Dan also needed to learn about the company and our systems, including writing stories and sending them through to news desk. Going back to basics, we looked through the shorthand alphabet and gathered materials to help him practice. And, of course, we ticked it all off in his apprentice logbook!

Dan had already written for our sports team, so talking him through writing stories probably took the least time, encouragingly. I’ve talked many a trainee and work experience student through the basics before, but with the new scheme, his introduction has been more thorough, and I am aware how important it is that he gets a really good start.

Dan Wright, apprentice at Kent Messenger

I can see I’m in for an interesting time now my apprenticeship with the Kent Messenger has got under way. By Thursday in my first week, visiting a protest rally was normal practice after interviewing a panto dame and attending a coroners’ court in the days before.

To be in this position at 18 years old, fresh from finishing sixth form in June, is brilliant, and my first week has proved just that. My mentor, Angela, has taken me under her wing, put up with my questions as I learn the computer system – along with everything else – and got me off to a really good start.

My motorsport journalism work during sixth form, which included interviewing Sir Chris Hoy and Damon Hill, working on the KM sports desk and even giving live event commentary a go, has been a great introduction to journalism. To be in this full-time position now is a fantastic opportunity, and digging out stories across Kent is a very rewarding task.

In my Maidstone office I’ve found out how – as expected – the pressure hits on press days, how much caffeine my colleagues consume, and how quickly the days go. A Jack Russell stuck in a rabbit hole was an unusual source for my first lead news story when he returned from his underground hideout. And that just about sums up my diverse first week: panto dame to disappearing dog in a matter of days. Roll on week two …

Employers interested in the Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Journalism can find out more information of the NCTJ website.