“Do your NCTJ” ; the advice came from virtually every Journalist, even Editors, that I’ve spoken to.
When asked what qualifications I’d need to join their ‘ranks’, this is what they would say. Degrees were sometimes suggested as a path to take, sometimes they weren’t. Therefore, the NCTJ seemed the more concrete option to take.
Earlier this year I had one of the best, and favourite, phone calls, which confirmed my ambition; at the beginning of a politics lesson, (those where the days!), I was told that my course fees had been paid. Come September, I would be studying with the Brighton Journalist Works (!) Since that phone call, I have since started studying for my part time diploma; lectures three times a week-Law, Essential Journalism, and Shorthand-with plenty of revision, and pitching story ideas, in between.
For the first time, in a very long time, I’m out of state-mandated education; it felt incredibly odd at first. I wouldn’t have to attend assemblies, sit in a canteen, wear an ID. But I now manage my own time, worry not about homework, write daily, pay rent, commute, and brainstorm article pitches. I worry about Shorthand, revise my law notes extensively, and practice introductions for Essential Journalism.
And I love it. I have found my “intellectual home”.
To study, and then achieve, for yourself, and by yourself, is one of the best things, I think. It’s a privilege.
I love listening to law lectures, learning about defamation, the structure of Courts, what you can and cannot write, what IPSO is; I like Essential Journalism as we get to practice writing skills-like culling information to a sixty word news story; and Shorthand…well, I try to ‘attack’ the outlines with enthusiasm, but needless to say, it’s the trickiest subject so far.
Amidst this, I have met some of the nicest people I could have ever hoped to meet.
As the youngest, and one of the last people to arrive on induction day, I was intimidated; this collective of people had travelled, some had families, been in print, etc. (I’m just out of college by contrast.) That first misconception of mine soon changed. We chat about the news, ‘tip off’ each other for potential story leads, exchange resource information, chat privately about what we’re finding difficult, etc.
I also like that the difficult ‘social element’ has gone; I struggled a lot with making friends, socialising, etc throughout primary, secondary school, and college. I don’t have to pretend any more, wear make up, obsess over clothes. (Whew, relief!) I can chat freely now about what I love doing-writing, asking the ‘nosy’ questions, creating a piece of work to be published. We help each other out.
The lecturers are also brilliant; whereas I may have been admonished when I was younger for asking too many questions, it’s now actively encouraged. We ask, we challenge. And we’re on the same footing now; they tell us what we need to know, interspersed with stories of their own experience, the occassional off-topic tangent if needed. They are incredible.
This is the course for me, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Currently I’m reading: Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon.
I’m listening to: Evolution, the new album by Anastacia.