AddThis SmartLayers

Training Matters: What editors look for in a work ex

Joy Yates is editor of Hartlepool Mail, Shields Gazette and the Peterlee Star. She is also a member of the NCTJ accreditation board.

It’s as tough as ever to get a job in a newsroom and of course there’s no denying journalism jobs are scarce.

This is why I’m flabbergasted when I receive speculative correspondence from students wanting to be journalists and they haven’t got a single newspaper cutting or example of work they’ve done to back up an application.

Not only is it difficult to break into the salaried world of work, there is no guarantee of a work experience placement due to the large number of requests. So students have to impress before they’ve even had the opportunity to walk into a newsroom.

It should go without saying that you should be suitably dressed. If you are unsure of expected work attire, give the contact you have at the newspaper a call to confirm.

What I would also hope any student would have done before their first day is research the paper and the areas it covers. Find out what you can about the current issues being addressed by the paper along with topics of general interest and know what’s making local and national headlines.

Familiarise yourself with the newspaper’s website and tablet apps. Don’t just bring ideas for print, think digital.

Is the newspaper and its staff active on social media? Check out Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Make a good impression. Come armed with content you can suggest to the news editor and generate ideas during your placement – don’t just wait to be handed press releases.

Integrate and interact with staff and readers. Demonstrate confidence and initiative, make yourself useful – even answering a ringing telephone in a busy newsroom can be a huge help and will be appreciated.

The newsroom can be a daunting new environment. It’s always busy, often frantic, mostly fun.

When it’s all over, ask for references and testimonials and leave a good lasting impression. After your placement, keep in touch with newsroom staff over email, via social media, ring them with tip-offs – don’t let them forget you.

You will get out of your placement, what you put into it. Make it worth your while and enjoy.

For further information on work experience, see the NCTJ website.


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • June 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    The main thing editors look for in work-ex is the willingness to work unpaid, surely?

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • June 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    P Stoff

    June 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    The main thing editors look for in work-ex is the willingness to work unpaid, surely?

    Not the case in my experience. I worked in regional group for nearly five years and knew of only two reporters in that time (myself included) to be recrutied through the traditional interview route. Every other appointment (about seven) came as a direct result of somebody impressing on a work experience stint. Mostly these people would start on a single day a week during NCTJ training and then come for a one or two week stint at the end of their course. If they impressed (and many did not) there was a very real prospect of employment at the end of it. I suspect that workies are exploited in some cases but my own experience leads me to beleive that, on the whole, there is a clear direction to WE placements. Think about it? Who is going to launch a costly recruitment process when they already have a proven trainee in waiting on their horizon?

    Also, as Joy rightly points out, who would give a trainee job to someone with no cuttings to their name and no practical experience? Course work is one thing but there is no substitute for real world reporting experience – experience that is not hard to find if you are willing to work unpaid for as little as a week or two. At the time this was painful financially – but so too was entering the most poorly paid profession there is!

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)