12 tips to completing your portfolio

23 11 2010

Here are Brighton Journalist Works‘ own 12 top tips to completing your NCTJ portfolios, make sure you take a read before you submit your final work!

1 Your cover sheet is a sales document
Explain why this story deserves top marks: how did you find it? How many interviews did you do? How many drafts did it take? Why are you pleased with it?

2 Up to half your stories can be subbed pages completed on work experience.
But you will need to include the rough copy as well as the finished version so the marker can see what you did. Explain what you did and why it is good.

3. Keep all originals
When you go on work experience tell your boss you need to keep your original piece as well as the published article. The marker needs to see how much editing it needed. Keeping track of these articles can really save time when it comes to deadline day, as you will have to rewrite  the stories  if you lose them. Set up an email account dedicated to portfolio articles and email yourself the documents as you write them.


4 Photocopy the work experience pages before you go on work experience, so you have enough.
When you show an editor your portfolio, it is your work  experience details they often look at first, so make sure you have enough. Also photo copy some extra blank cover sheets, in case you make a mistake.

5 Track down the published articles

It is likely that most of the articles for your portfolio will come from your time on work experience. When you submit a piece, make sure you find out where and when it will be published and get a copy of it when it comes out. Without it, you could lose out on a good story and give yourself more work to do.

6 Write your feature early
You will need to complete ten news stories and one feature for the ‘folio. (Or eight stories plus a video plus a feature.) Many of you say you want to write features – so get down to it and prove it!

7 Mix it up
If you are interested in sport, for example, resist the urge to fill your ‘folio pages with match reports and sports stories. The NCTJ like diversity in stories and look at sports matches as an event staged for you rather than a news story you have unearthed. Stories on your favoured topic aren’t a bad thing by any means but do try to mix up your articles. Remember to include your court, council and patch stories. Reviews are fine too, so if you are short, review a TV programme.

8 Use the portfolio checklist
The NCTJ has helpfully included a checklist in your portfolio – use it! And take out everything else – the marker only needs to see your cover sheets,stories and work experience, intro page with your name and exam results,not all the bumf produced by the NCTJ for your information.

9 Work does NOT need to be published
To get extra marks for presentation, if an article has not been published then lay it out yourself, give it a headline, and submit as if published alongside your original copy. You have learned how to lay out – show off your skills. Remember too, that you can submit work carried out before you started the course.

10 Get your work signed.
If you need your tutor to sign your work because it was written on course,
then just put a “post-it” note on the relevant page, and we will sign when we mark. If you need your boss on work experience to sign, then do so while you are there, or email them asking to confirm it is your work. This is the case even if your work received a by-line.

Also, please remember…

11 Blogs are not admissible.
Yes, I know, mad but true.

12 Check word length
Your original copy must be more than 150 words long, even if subbed to less than that when printed.

Good Luck!

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