Our WordPress blog has been thoroughly updated and has moved to http://www.journalistworks.co.uk/blog
Our WordPress blog has been thoroughly updated and has moved to http://www.journalistworks.co.uk/blog
Here at Journalist Works we pride ourselves on offering our students the best, and nothing but the best. This is especially true when it comes to the work experience placements we provide.
I am not talking about one work placement either. No no. We offer three weeks of fantastic, action-packed work at various amazing companies. Many of them even cover travel expenses or pay a small wage, and if our students impress them (which often happens) they get snatched up there and then.
And our list keeps growing daily, as our students go on to get great jobs at great places, and remember us when they need students looking for interns.
Our students are encouraged to blog on their Brighton Journalist Works course. Kayleigh Tanner and John Herring muse on their experiences via their blogs, with the most recent entries first.
“I have every faith that every single one of my course-mates will make a raging success of their journalism careers.”
“At the start of the course many of us, myself included, thought reaching 100 words a minute was an impossible task, requiring assembling a team of mighty heroes, legendary weapons and a stash of energy drinks and doughnuts to tackle this Herculean task.
“We have a lot to thank Roxanne for. Not only for getting us to a respectable speed in shorthand, but for being able to sleep easy knowing Caroline got an eye test – something she tells me she revised hard for – and as a result, now has to wear glasses.”
“I’m going to miss everyone terribly. And the course. Such good tutors, such good content, such good course-mates. I’ve never been so reluctant to leave an educational establishment. Shall I hide in the tea room?”
“It’s pretty devastating, leaving a course which has inspired me and which I’ve actually thoroughly enjoyed, to return to something which leaves me feeling so… flat.”
“I feel like the NCTJ is infinitely more worthwhile than my degree, and I feel like I’ve learnt so much more in the 12 weeks I’ve been learning to become a journalist than the two years I’ve been regurgitating the academic papers of linguists.”
“I doubted that I’d be able to get there, so it’s a huge weight off my shoulders. I practised an insane amount the day before those exams, so thank God it paid off. In my group, six of us passed the 100wpm after ten weeks! Surely we deserve a medal.”
“Today has been a very exciting day at Brighton Journalist Works. We’ve received our provisional Media Law and Court Reporting results, and I got an A in Media Law and a B in Court Reporting (a true Christmas miracle, given how hideous that paper was).”
“The news today is that my first print story (hence the title) has made it into my local paper! (page 19 of The Argus in Brighton, in case you were wondering). I have a byline and everything!”
“I passed my 60wpm shorthand exam! Hooray! This means that as long as I pass everything else (at whatever level), I’ll have passed my NCTJ. Again, hooray! Alas, I have to sit an 80wpm on Friday.”
“I can’t comprehend how fast this course has gone! When I think about how much this year at uni dragged, this is just insanity. It’s one of the things I really like about this course; the fact it’s not eating into too much of my time. I’m really impatient, and I hate moving at a slow pace, so cramming it all into such a short space of time is ideal for me.”
Featuring John Jenkins
“We had a visit from feature writer John Jenkins today. We got to do one of my absolute favourite types of writing, namely a travel journalism article, and he gave us some interesting things to think about when writing features. He said we should let every holiday pay for itself, as we should be able to sell a feature we write about our trips two or three times to various publications. I have a few features I’ve already written that I’d like to pitch to some magazines, and I’m going to write a feature that popped up in my head forever ago and see if anyone would like it.”
“The only margin in my shorthand notebook is the margin of error. This currently stands at around 26.4% and sits uncomfortably on my mental well being, like a walrus atop a hedgehog.
“We’ve now moved away from 60-word-a-minute passages and moved into the middle-of-the-road speed of 70-90 words a minute. I’m surprised at how much I’m able to take down at this speed. It’s just a case of getting your brain in gear to bring the relevant outline instantly into your mind, only for it to be discarded a nanosecond later for another one.”
“I love the fact everyone on our course gets on. There are only around 12 or 13 of us, so it’s quite a close-knit group.”
“Recently, I felt really stupid having to ask a man how he spelled his name… and that name was Chris. A shudder of embarrassment ran through me as I had to spell it back to him to make sure I’d got it right, but I would’ve felt a whole lot more ridiculous quoting him as Chris and having him phone me a day later telling me he was a Kris.”
“I ruddy bloody love Media Law; it’s really interesting, which I wasn’t expecting. To be honest there’s nothing I particularly dislike about the course.”
“Teeline is said to be the easiest form of shorthand to learn, which is good considering that you have to sit a 60-word-a-minute exam after 10 weeks of a 14-week course. But if this is the easiest to learn then the other forms must be like trying to ride a unicycle up Mount Everest.”
“Today we did some vox pops in town. Lots of people see the notepad and cross the road or speed up their walk to avoid you. My piece of advice for vox pops would be MAKE SURE YOUR PEN WORKS. I spent the entirety of the first vox pop carving the man’s answer into my notepad with a pen that WOULD NOT WRITE. I have the word ‘bad’ carved into my notepad over and over again.”
“Today we had a visit from Euan Ferguson, the chief deputy sub from Time Out magazine, who actually took a course at Brighton Journalist Works a few years ago. We had to do a write-up of his talk, and mine made it onto the BJW blog! He also emailed our course administrator and named mine as one of his favourites, which was nice. I’d love to get some work experience with Time Out. Maybe that’s my next task.”
“Oh great” cried my inner monologue. “I have to write a review. Not just any review but an ART review. This internal outburst was brought about as part of our reporting sessions for Brighton Journalist Works (BJW).”
“I’m currently cooking up some stories to research for my patch, and I need to practise some shorthand tonight. Shorthand is so intimidating. 100wpm feels completely unattainable right now. I know it’s only day 2, but it’s still daunting.”
Both Kayleigh and John achieved the gold standard for their NCTJ course. Almost all of the course passed their 100wpm shorthand and all achieved a minimum of 80wpm.
Exam results in the other subjects were similarly brilliant – everyone passed Essential Media Law at grade C or above; 90% passed Essential Public Affairs and Crime Reporting at gold standard; and 10 students got the gold standard for Reporting.
After completing the course Ben Leo started his work experience at the Argus and was snapped up by them at once. Here is his story.
“The cost of going to University after my A-levels really put me off as I didn’t fancy studying hard just to get into debt. Instead I enrolled for the fast-track course at Journalist Works and learnt everything I needed to know in an intensive but high-calibre 14-week course.
“I was a little apprehensive before starting the course as I questioned whether I would be able to keep up with my fellow university-educated students. I soon discovered it didn’t really matter if I had been to university or not as the employers I spoke to all valued an NCTJ education more than a degree.
“After the course, I put the skills I’d acquired at Journalist Works to the test during a work experience stint at The Argus.
“Soon after the placement, the News Editor called me up, told me he’d liked my work and offered me a job”. I remember he joked: “They taught you well upstairs.”
I gladly accepted.”
“Studying for the NCTJ at Journalist Works not only saved me thousands of pounds in tuition fees, but also a hard slog at university too, and it got me my cracking job”
And Ben is not the only one bagging himself a great job after completing his qualification. His course-mates Rebecca Creed and Caroline Wilson, went on to find work as a junior reporters. Neil Hawkins joined the Echo in Southend. Puja Tiwari became the editor at a luxury lifestyle and fashion magazine named Sabaya,and Emily Noszkay joined www.positiveluxury.com as their new Content and Community Manager.
There is no one way to write a good CV and cover letter. But here are some tips:
1: Adapt the cover letter to the job: reflect the wish list in the job ad into your letter.
2: Aim for one page CV, no more.
3: Write one sentence or more at the top of your CV that sums up who you are and why you are right for the job. Put key skills, particularly those that make you stand out as different to other candidates, such as video editing, blogging etc at the very top.
4: Cut obvious or generic statements such as ‘good communicator’ or ‘team player’ and replace with specific examples that show you actually have these skills.
5: Create a webpage CV, which includes examples of your online and multimedia journalism skills and put the link on your paper CV. (tumblr et al) See Luke Lambert’s here.
6: Put your NCTJ qualifications at the top.
7: Put all your other qualifications and work experience in order with most recent at the top.
8: You can now lose all those descriptions of what you did in Tescos – editors know what checkout staff do.
9: Add links to all your published work eg; your Argus page and others.
10: Your cover letter should be written to showcase your writing skills as a journalist; you are not an Edwardian lady applying for a job in a library: write tight, sharp, lively copy – why else would an editor hire you?
11: Never, never, never send a cover letter/email/CV without showing it to someone to proof read first. We ALL make mistakes (that’s why we have subs) and an editor will spot them and bin your application straight away.
Fresh from completing his studies here at Brighton Journalist Works, we sent Luke Holmes off for some work experience at Esquire magazine and then Men’s Health.
Here’s what he had to say about his time on two of Britain’s most high profile titles:
“I arrived at Esquire magazine on the Monday morning of my work experience not knowing what to expect. I was then taken on a brief walk around the office by the Chief Sub-Editor who introduced me to the reasonably friendly, but also extremely busy staff.
During my two week stay, I worked with the sub-editing team which consisted of two full-time employees (Chief and Deputy Sub-Editor).
One of the first things that struck me was the magazine office environment. Up to this point, I had only worked in newspaper journalism so I was used to the phone ringing every ten seconds and the panic slowly building as deadlines sneak closer. The magazine industry has more of an emphasis on producing top quality copy rather than fast and proficiently written copy.
Esquire only goes to print once a month so all departments have plenty of time to ensure that the design, photography and the copy are of the highest quality. I got to edit the work of both Giles Coren and Tom Parker Bowles but before I did so I was warned that Giles was a particularly tricky customer. I was directed to read this letter (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jul/23/mediamonkey) before I decided to omit or add any syllables of is work.
If you are to complete your experience at Esquire I would recommend that you get familiar with the magazine’s style of writing as they are very particular about phraseology. All aspects of the magazine seamlessly tie in together, even when it contains work from half a dozen different contributors (Will Self, Max Olesker etc.).
You will be asked to do a lot of fact checking in the articles that you sub. I also cannot emphasis how carefully these articles have to be read and checked. One mistake I missed, which I was particularly annoyed about (and tamely scolded for) was the word ‘brasserie’ (meaning a posh but relaxed French restaurant) which was mistakenly spelt ‘brassiere’ (meaning an item of women’s undergarment) in an article about to go to print. It just goes to show question the placement of every ‘i’ and ‘e’ in the copy you receive.
On a more obvious note, if you are not familiar with Apple systems, this could be a serious hindrance. In my experience, 99% of the magazine industry in London uses the Apple iMac, so not knowing how to use the system would be generally annoying for the sub-editors who are, to be frank, probably too busy to teach you how to use it.
Esquire shares a floor with Elle, Red and Bazaar magazines so there is an array of fashionable London media types throughout the entire office, as well as stylists who frantically scramble through racks and racks of clothes (which sometimes are all over the office floor) seeking the latest fashions to be featured in the various magazines.
It is important to remember that you are in there to learn. They do not expect you to show up as someone that is on the brink of revolutionising the magazine business. They expect a relatively inexperienced NCTJ graduate (which I was and you probably will be), so be there to learn and not to impress. Trying too hard to make a good impression will probably lead to resentment more than impressing anyone.
After a happy two-week stay, I went to Men’s Health which is located only five minutes down the road from Esquire.
At Men’s Health, I was working with two other journalists who are also proficient at coding and web design. Using basic coding I helped them to transfer articles from the printed publication and convert and upload them on to the website. We used re-wrote articles to be more suited to the online audience. If you have a background in an unusual mix of healthy living, coding and journalism you will absolutely flourish in your time here.
It’s interesting how the personalities of the staff reflect the publications. The staff in Esquire are very fashionable and enjoy the finer things in life whilst the Men’s Health staff all run down to the gym on their lunch break and return, often sweaty, drinking protein shakes. So it seems if you are wanting to work for one of these publications, it is important to live the lifestyles that they portray in their magazines. This makes sense really. Would you take men’s health advice from someone who wasn’t healthy themselves?”
This week Alastair Skeffington and Belinda Kemp visited Brighton Journalist Works to talk to our students about the importance of understanding and reporting scientific and statistical information correctly.
Student Ros Branagan wrote:
New research has shown that 89% of statistics used by journalists are incorrect.
Is a sentence like this over-simplified, misleading, or just plain inaccurate?
These are the kinds of pitfalls that can easily befall journalists, many of whom don’t come from a scientific background.
Thankfully stats experts Alastair and Belinda ran a fascinating, informative and interactive workshop for Brighton Journalist Works students to flag up the essential skills needed to write about scientific data with clarity and accuracy.
For someone like me, who doesn’t have a head figures, this workshop was a must. I had feared flashbacks to GCSE maths, but luckily 100% of this blogger has now learned to fear stats just a fraction less.