UK Journalism - Training Opportunities
An increasingly large number of young people, as well as many others long established in occupations as diverse as medicine, the law, the armed services and numerous trades and craft industries, are being attracted to careers in the media.
It is not surprising, therefore, that degrees and diplomas in media studies are now the most sought-after in Britain and the US.
Student enrollment numbers in the UK have rocketed from about 3000 10 years ago to well in excess of 40,000 for currrent courses.
The courses have had a mixed reception by the media industry. Generally they have been critcised for being too academic and theoretical, rather than vocational and preparing people for the workplace with relevant practical skills.
Journalism, in particular, is mostly learnt and “fine-tuned” on the job, although increasingly there is a mass of underpinning knowledge like law and the structures of central and local government, as well as learning shorthand for speech reporting, which are best ideally taught before employment on an industry approved pre-entry course.
The National Council for ther Training of Journalists undertakes all training on behalf of the newspaper indusstry in Britain, and accredits nearly 30 univeresities and colleges in Britain which teach its syllabuses and whose students sit various NCTJ qualifying preliminary exams.
The particular strength of the NCTJ system, and therefore advantage to students, is that it is a system based oin current indstry need and practise which is run by the industry for the industry
.Editors and other senior journalists throughout the country make input as subject board members ensuring up-to-date relevance and also act as assessors and interviewees for the final National Certificate Exam, usually taken about 18 months to two years after beginning employment and which is a test of all-round basic competence.
The Council’s management body - it is a registered charity - comprises representatives from all side of the industry (employers, editors and unions) as well as Higher and Further Educational institutions.
The NCTJ has a deservedly high reputation for excellence, and its system of training has been copied overseas, in particular in Australia and New Zealand.
In fact the NCTJ celebrates the 50th anniversary of its foundation in 2001 and appropriately has recently been awarded the Government’s coveted “Investor in People” award for high standards of excellence and service.
Whilst most of the NCTJ UK courses are preparing young people for careers on English speaking newspapers and magazines in the UK by teaching basic skills and underpinning knowledge, the Council’s trading arm, NCTJ Training Ltd, is now responding to a growing demand from overseas for suitable training opportunities.
Its internet web site - http://www.nctj.com - is now being carefully monitored for overseas useage, and a significant number of “hits” are from abroad.
In one day recently there were 8098 vits, and apart from requests for general information, a growing number of overseas colleges requested teaching syllabuses, and individuals sought information on distance-learning courses and textbooks.
Like all NCTJ taining, the distance-learning coursea are regularly revised and updated to ensure they reflect current practise and incorporate new legislation
There are three distance-learning courses suitable for oversea study - Newspaper Journalism, Periodical Journalism and a new sub-editiong course.
These courses are also used in the UK, and the Newspaper Journalismk course forms part of in-company direct-entry training to help non pre-entry trainees catch up on basis skills and knowledg
.It is recommended that students also buy copies of the three standard text books used in training - Essential Law for Journalists, Essential Local Government and Essential Central Government.
They cost £55 for the set, plus overseas postage & package, and they can be ordered separately.
The Foundation Course in Newspaper Journalism consists of 15 units for self-assessment, including a video on interviewing technioques, eight audio tapes and a style booklet, and costs £250.
The units provide an introduction to UK law, as well as local and central goverment structure.These will, of course be different in overseas countries, and be worth learning separately from suitable text books.
The Foundation couse usually takes between three and six months of home study to complete, and once finished students may apply to sit some of the NCTJ preliminary exams.
These internationally recognised qualifications may be sat by arrangement at a centre local to students, ie British Council offices, local newspaper offices etc.Each exam costs £25.96 and past exam papers may be purchased for practice.
Writing for the Periodical Press is a 10 module tutor-assessed course and costs £415, plus £72.68 VAT in EC countries. Considerable effort and discipline will be needed to complete this in three months, but it is worth remembering that journalism is a very disciplined craft which involves meeting specific and often tight deadlines, or risk being unpublished.
Apart from writing and collating news and features, there are modules on sub-editing, layout and design.
Basics of Sub-editing is a new course in response to the growing demand from well-trained subs and journalists able to direct-input by subbing their own copy.
Each introduces a new skill, beginning with basics,and includse typography, making copy “fit”, writing headlines and standfirsts, picture sizing and working with grids. A self-test pack prior to purchase is also available for this course.
The NCTJ’s mission statement is dedicated to ensuring all its journalism training activities are in response to industry and public demand.
With nearly 50 years experience, and an evolving system which throughout has been heartily endorsed by industry bosses and practioners, it is little wonder that aspirant overseas journalism students wish to be part of a training system which puts vocational needs above all else.
Several NCTJ accredited colleges in the UK run one-year full-time post graduate and other courses for overseas students.
These include Darlington College in the north east, Sheffeield University, as well as City University, London, although the latter is no longer a NCTJ accredited centre.