Cultivate your specialist subject

30 03 2010

There has never been a better time to be a journalist, according to Greg Hadfield even though the traditional route into the profession is becoming increasingly difficult.

Talking to students at Brighton’s Journalist Works Greg said they might find it hard to see a structured route into journalism – but they could be successful by looking beyond the norm.

“It may be difficult to get a reporter’s job on a local weekly, so think about other ways of getting your journalism funded.

“A great example is to work for non-governmental organisations – Greenpeace, Christian Aid or charities which have communication channels.

“Look at organisations that send people to disaster areas to report the stories of real people. It might be print, video, audio or first person accounts via websites – often these organsiations do it better than other news providers.”

Greg advised students to cultivate a specialist subject to write about to create a niche in the market.

“The future of journalism resides in the creation of premium content. Get your foot in the door with a passion for a subject, either as a team or alone.

“Young people these days are interested in journalism, they don’t want to be told by editors what the news is, they want to engage in news and help to shape it. People now want to be partners in news and have conversations about it, before, during and after events happen.”

Students should understand the different forms of the digital era, its potency and what it offers. Referring to the impact of online journalism on print, as debated in a recent intelligence squared discussion called ‘The Future Of News’, Greg said journalists have always been citizen journalists.

“We have never pretended to write beyond ordinary people. We have no more right than anybody else to write news or have special access. Online news means we are now closer to our consumers and if that means getting more comments and feedback, good or bad, I would rather hear it.”

He pointed out that the boundaries between people’s personal and professional personas were blurring because of networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

“This might result in dual personalities, but you have to embrace the technology. Don’t undersell yourself, know what you want and don’t blame the world for not accommodating you. Cultivate an outlet for your journalism while you are looking for a job.”

Greg’s final piece of advice for students was to get out there and just do it.

“Don’t be scared of failure and error. Accept that you will make mistakes – it’s better to make them now than later when you are a shining star.”

Log onto hear the debate on ‘The Future of News’ as discussed by Andrew Neil, Turi Munthe, AA Gill, Claire Enders, David Elstein, Matthew Parris and Jacob Weisberg.  The debate was held on March 24, 2010.


What’s the value of news?

26 03 2010
Katie Price

Is this news?

By Louisa Hannah

News sense is a vital skill for trainee journalists – but not always as easy to pin down as contempt of court or the structure of local government. Deciding whether a story is news worthy becomes second nature after a while on the news desk, but doesn’t always come naturally for trainees.

Editor of the Argus, Michael Beard, told students at Brighton’s Journalist Works that stories for his newspaper should be selected primarily for their human interest value. Mr Beard said students should think about news selection in terms of what impact issues have on readers: how much it will hurt, cost or affect them. Journalists often select stories and angles intuitively.

They know that news is a commodity to be sold but may be unaware they are adhering to a common set of news values followed by journalists for decades.

One of the best known set of news values was first recorded more than 40 years ago by media researchers John Galtung and Marie Ruge. They made their list in 1965 and it is still the subject of debate by journalists and academics alike. Gultang and Ruge analysed international news stories to find out what factors they had in common, and what factors placed them at the top of the news agenda worldwide.

A story which scores highly on each value is likely to make the front page of a newspaper or tv news bulletin. Many of these values are relevant to trainees once they are sourcing stories, for example; negativity (bad news is more newsworthy than good news), unexpectedness (if an event is out of the ordinary it will have a greater effect than something that is an everyday occurrence) and conflict (opposition of people or forces resulting in a dramatic effect, stories with conflict are often newsworthy).

Some of Gultang and Ruge’s other news values worth looking up are: frequency, threshold, un-ambiguity, meaningfulness, consonance, continuity, reference to unique nations, reference to elite people, composition and personalisation.

A more recent set of news values were published by Harcup and O’Neill in 2001 after they studied the UK National Press They found the following values to be important for the British press (in no particular order):

The power elite: stories concerning powerful individuals, organisations or institutions

Celebrity: stories concerning people who are already famous

Entertainment: stories concerning sex, show-business, human interest, animals and unfolding drama, or offering opportunities for humourous treatment, entertaining photographs or witty headlines

Surprise: stories with an element or surprise and/ or contrast

Bad news: stories with negative overtones such as conflict or tragedy

Good news: stories with positive overtones such as rescues and cures

Magnitude: stories perceived as sufficiently significant either in the numbers of people involved or in potential impact

Relevance: stories about issues, groups and nations perceived to be relevant to the audience

Follow-ups: stories about subjects already in the news

Media agenda: stories that set or fit the news organisation’s own agenda

There is no doubt that news values are evolving. The popularity of reality shows, the blurring of news and celebrity news, the phenomenal rise of citizen journalism – all impact on traditional news values and news processes.

Some people question whether traditional news values are still relevant today. But as future gatekeepers of the news, trainee journalists would do well to at least consider them, if not actively join the debate.

Esquire magazine’s chief sub predicts good times for great journos

25 03 2010

Jeremy White, Esquire magazine

Jeremy White, Esquire magazine

Jeremy White, chief sub of Esquire magazine, came to talk to students at Brighton Journalist Works this week.

He said: “It’s a good time to be entering the journalism profession now. There are more jobs being advertised now than last year and magazine readership figures are on the up.”

Esquire magazine readership is increasing and so is Men’s Health magazine, both produced by NatMags. He hopes the magazine will take on a new sub very soon and students from Brighton Journalist Works, who all do their work experience there, will be in the front of the queue.

“We love having students from Journalist Works at Esquire, they are well trained and lovely,” he said. He gave students advice on how to succeed at work experience: “Do your homework on the magazine before you get there, so you know all the different sections and hit the ground running from day one.”

He said that while there were a lot of people out there looking for jobs in journalism, there were not many good ones.

“If you are good you will get a job,” he said. Students at JW are on a regular rota for work experience at Esquire.

Another place students can apply for work experience via JW is the Mail on Sunday’s YOU magazine – just voted Supplement of the Year in the Press Gazette awards. Ex student Emma Laurence has just done a month work experience with them and they voted her “Intern of the Month”.

They have now offered her two-four regular shifts a week.

Roxy Freeman: From nervous newcomer to Guardian cover story

15 03 2010

As I walked through the doors for my first day at Brighton Journalist Works in February 2009, the sight of the desks and chairs filled me with panic and it occurred to me that my solitary existence as an Open University student was over.

No more sitting on my own with my books night after night, this class was rammed full of smart, confident students with opinions and questions in abundance.

Over the next ten weeks, with the fastidious guidance of Paula, Richard, Matt and Pete, my knowledge of journalism went from nothing to fairly comprehensive.

At times it was really tough; I doubted not only my abilities but also my motivation. I had invested quite lot of time and money in the course but it was all on a bit of whim. I had no intention of being a news reporter and wasn’t even sure I wanted to work in the press. I just liked writing and wanted to improve my skills in the shortest time possible.

I never doubted the expertise of my tutors, who were all superb in their field, but I had no faith in myself. I was surprised to get through the ten weeks and even more surprised to pass all the exams with a C or above.

The next few months involved a number of unpaid work placements and numerous rejection letters. I was starting to lose heart when I got offered an internship at The Guardian, followed by print opportunities in their various publications.

In September 2009 I wrote a cover story about my upbringing, for the Guardian’s G2 supplement. Following its publication, I pursued various avenues including a paid internship with The Copywriting Company in Brighton. The placement taught me the practical side of how to put my new-found skills to use and actually to make money through feature writing.

In December last year, I was approached by a highly respected publishing company who were keen for me to write a book. Once the initial fear and anxiety passed I threw myself into writing a memoir outline. The sample chapters and full proposal is now with my agent pending formal publication confirmation by the publisher.

Enrolling on the NCTJ course at Brighton Journalist Works was not only a nerve-wracking experience but a massive leap of faith. A year down the line I’m pleased to say it was one of the best leaps of my life. I’m now doing something I love and by the end on the 2010 I may well be a published author, I can’t ask for better than that.

Roxy Freeman’s memoir is due to be published later this year. Her website is

We need passion, not fashion says Caroline Lucas

12 03 2010
Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas, MEP

Caroline Lucas, would-be Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, tells Brighton Journalist Work’s student George Walker that fashion isn’t important in politics – but shopping ethically is… read more here.

Caroline Lucas has had a highly successful political career, not just as the leader of the Green Party, but also as a champion for charities and organisations promoting ethical campaigns. Politics has never been the most glamorous of professions, but Caroline has stood out in the political style stakes, showing politicians that green living can easily fit in to the lives of young professional families. George Walker speaks to Caroline Lucas about her hopes for a more ethical fashion industry, her natural beauty secrets and how she strives to live an ethical and stylish life.

George Walker: How important is fashion in your line of work? What ethical labels do you love?

Caroline Lucas: Fashion isn’t really important in politics, although people will always focus on your appearance when you’re in the public eye. So I guess I like to look stylish, but am in no way a label-junkie!

I like independent shops and brands which achieve high ethical standards and keep prices reasonable for the shopper. The Gossypium boutique in The Lanes [Brighton], for example, is a striving independent enterprise employing local people and promoting strong green credentials at affordable prices. It even sells make-it-yourself kits using fair trade materials.

The Brighton based Ecochicollection online shop is great for ethically made jewellery across all budgets. I also like People Tree, which manages to be both extremely stylish and very ethical. Vintage shops are good places to find chic secondhand clothes, and importantly, high street stores like M&S and Topshop have now started to sell increasing numbers of Fairtrade cotton pieces.

Fleet Street legend shares his views on news

11 03 2010

John Jenkins, former night editor at the Daily Telegraph, visited the office of Brighton Journalist Works yesterday. Catherine Jones, a student on the course, wrote this account.

It turns out that this fast track journalism course really is intense and I’ve had this week, what I like to call, the 8th week slump. There’s been tears, tantrums, panicking and a general doubt over my journalism ability.

Then, just as I received yet another email turning me down for work experience, John Jenkins arrived to give us a ‘headline masterclass’. But this masterclass was so much more than that, John talked us through his, frankly, legendary career with wit and energy and I could still see the wide eyed, eager, young reporter he once was.

He asked us one by one why we were here and what we had been doing giving us each a unique selling point which most of us would have never realised. From golf writers and property correspondents to autobiographical acting audition features, new doors suddenly opened and John was giving us the confidence to walk through them.

(Read more on Catherine Jones’ blog)

Become a journalist in just ten weeks

10 03 2010

Journalist Works

Your fastest route into journalism.

This is the year you become a journalist – in just ten weeks. Looking to break into journalism this year? Check out the Brighton Journalist Works website and see exactly why we are regarded as the premier independent journalism course provider.

Learn shorthand, subbing and media law.

Meet graduates, students and tutors in new online videos

Be impressed by our 2009 NCTJ exam results

See where our graduates now work


See why it’s the perfect time to qualify as an NCTJ Accredited journalist

Three weeks’ work experience – where will you complete yours?

“For two years running students have won ‘Scoop of the Year!’ at Brighton Journalist Works. It’s a first-class course”

Joanna Butcher, Chief Executive, NCTJ