The story so far – week one at BJW over…

21 01 2013

It’s the beginning of week two for our NCTJ Fast Trackers and we think they are settling in rather nicely. The first week is always a bit scary but from reading the shiny new blogs that the students have been setting up (or updating – oh yes, we were impressed at how many already had blogs) it seems things are going well.

Here are a few extracts from some of them…

Nicolle Payne: “The course itself is amazing, tiring and fast paced. Just as promised. Of course the news writing was very interesting, keeping a list of sources of news on how to write a good story, with all the dos and donts of intros, was very helpful. But what really excited me was getting my patch, even if it is a large one, all the way from Rottingdean through to Seaford. It just means there’s more to write which can never be a bad thing!

Joe Riddle: “Learning shorthand seemed a very daunting prospect when I first opened my textbook and was faced with a wall of what looked like sanscrit or Egyptian hieroglyphics. I was sure it would be impossible to master this alien language in a mere 14 weeks. As it happens I seem to be getting the hang of it rather well and am suitably pleased with myself, whilst at the same time taking nothing for granted.”

Annie Hayes: “Having already taken Media Law (and my Court Reporting exam) with Brighton Journalist Works last term, I thought I’d totally prepped myself for how busy my life was about to become over the next few months. WRONG. It’s only Thursday evening of week one and I’m bone-achingly exhausted (it turns out commuting between Southend and Brighton every few days is knackering), I can’t stop thinking about shorthand, and every time I hear anyone speak about anything I keep checking to see if The Argus have already covered it and wondering if I can make it work as a potential news story with a new Brighton-based angle. We haven’t even started Subbing yet. Or the dreaded Public Affairs.

These things all sound bad, but after almost 2 years of working in what is a essentially a modern day factory (call centre banking), I can’t begin to say how exciting this all is. I’ve been so happily busy I keep forgetting to do normal people stuff like have dinner, text my friends, watch telly, re-tweet pictures of baby animals, sleep…

Good luck in week two everyone!!



First day at Brighton Journalist Works, according to Claire…

15 01 2013

Ah, the first day of  our new, shiny Jan 2013 Fast Track has passed and all those nerves and starting-something-different jitters have calmed a little for our students.

Delighted to see new student Claire Maxwell has already blogged about her first day – fancy a look? Click here then!


Another student bags a job….

10 01 2013

Happy New Year! Here at Brighton Journalist Works Towers we are looking forward to seeing 16 bright, shiny new faces on Monday when our first Fast Track NCTJ course of 2013 kicks off. We love seeing them trooping in all shy on the first day and then, 14 weeks later, leaving here armed with their portfolios, qualifications and a steely determination to bag that first job.

Talking of which, over Christmas we had a lovely triumphant email from a 2012 student John Herring whose blog on the trials and tribulations of training to be a journo kept us amused in the office.

His email said:

“Hi all.  Another success story for Brighton Journalist Works. I had an interview at the Newbury Weekly News at 10:00 on Friday morning. At 15:00 they phoned me back and offered me a job as a trainee reporter wanting me to start asap.

I start next Monday (Jan 14th).

 I’d like to thank you and all the staff at BJW for providing the excellent training, advice and work experience that is crucial for anyone wanting to get into the industry. Regards and thanks, John Herring.  ”

Yah, well done John – delighted to have helped you on your way!



So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen goodnight….

13 12 2012

Well, its hankies at the ready here at the office as we start saying our farewells to the September 2012 cohort which are about to leave the cosy confines of Journalist Works here in Brighton and head off into the big wide world of the meeja. It’s been lovely (as ever) watching them toil away through the classroom window, tongues buried in their cheeks, concentration on their faces, as they grapple with the Teeline outline for animal, try and get their heads round the libel laws and bash out intro after intro before alighting on the perfect top line for their stories.

Watching the progress they make along the way is nothing short of miraculous (but then our teachers are pretty damn good, if we say so ourselves) and it’s great to see everyone grow in confidence about their writing skills. We also like to coo and smile, like we would do at a new born baby, when they come in the office holding aloft The Argus which contains one of their  lovely bylines (and the occasional splash, oh yes).

We always encourage our students to write about their experiences on the course so here’s one from Amy Roberts who we think it’s fair to say seems to have enjoyed her transformation into trainee journalist…

Good luck all of you!

The BJW team

Contacts, contacts, contacts!

29 11 2012

So, we train you up to know how to write a story, to not type any libels and to be able to take down what your interviewees say at lightening shorthand speed. Then we sort out your work experience and unleash you into the big wide world of journalism. What you do next determines whether you make it in the career you want.

Here’s a few words from past graduate Juliet Conway, who won the National Council for the Training of Journalists’  Scoop of the Year award three years ago whilst studying at Brighton Journalist Works. We think this says it all about perseverance….

“I did my journalism course before going to university, and so being trained as a journalist before starting my degree, I used the expertise to become editor-in-chief of the student paper. I also fitted in work placements during the holidays, so by the time I graduated I had amassed invaluable skills and knowledge – but of course as any graduate knows, that hardly ensures walking into a job.

“I began the arduous task of searching for jobs and editing my CV, but I also secured a work placement at ES magazine by contacting the editor directly. I knew sending out my CV was important, but I also knew my best chances of getting a job was to actually be in the right place at the right time.

“The month-long placement at ES magazine was unpaid but my travel expenses were covered and it was great experience (all placements are, even if it’s because it teaches you what you don’t want to do). However, it was clear there was no job at the end, but that hardly mattered as I met people and made contacts.

“For one job, I was sent to report on a film premiere and met a journalist from the Daily Telegraph. She told me her editor was looking for freelancers and I immediately took her email address and she said I should send her my CV. I did so the very next day.

“They got in touch and I started working for them as soon as my ES magazine internship ended. I’m still a freelance reporter but I work for them regularly each week. I could never have planned this. But what I did plan was the internship, and I did have the drive and desire to put myself out there when I met other journalists and contacts. Above all, I could never have started any of this without the essential skills I learned at Brighton Journalist Works. “

Brutally honest inspiration from Fleet Street Fox

1 11 2012

Fleet Street Fox is not afraid of brutal honesty, whether it’s written on her blog or Mirror Column.

When she talks to journalism students, Foxy encourages them to consider a career at the tabloids because it is there they learn the skills that will take them on into any job.

Her visit to Brighton Journalist Works left Melita Keily excited at the prospect of her future career as she shares on her blog post Fleet Street Fox:

“A talk  I had been looking forward to for quite some time was the anonymous Fleet Street Fox. Hard hitting and brutally honest, it was a talk that inspired me no end, while at the same time scared the bejesus out of me.

“To be told that you will be called a liar several times a day, have countless doors slammed in your face, be the victim of the odd punch or strangulation, witness suicide, see corpses and become very accustomed to phrases involving the word ‘fuck’ and ‘aunts’ (as autocorect loves to put it) is a lot of information to absorb in 60 minutes.
“Oh, and did you know that when you’re hit by a train at 70mph you’re pretty much vaporised and all that’s left are little fat droplets the size of skittles? Yeah, you might witness that too.
“It was at this point I realised she was not joking when she said some people’s human-inhuman ratio tips over into mental illness. I think it’s clear why.
“But I also heard how writing can take you all over the world. How a 3pm phone call could see you on the next train to Edinburgh, or grabbing your passport and heading for the airport, or being on the front line of ground breaking stories, watching and telling history in the making.
“How you can bring down a government, have the press office for the House of Commons or the spokesperson for the Queen on the phone in a flash.
“How you will know information that you may never be able to publish due to ethical and legal reasons but you will know and more often than not you will have the power to tell. And let’s not forget experimenting with Jaegermeister which seems to be a fundamental journalistic skill.
“People will read your stories, your words, take in the facts that you sourced. And that’s why I’m more excited than ever about the career path laid out before me.
“Now I think I’ll go get some fresh air like Foxy told me.”


Musings on being halfway through the course…

19 10 2012

Brighton Journalist Works student Chris Cox is in thoughtful mood in his most recent blog post about the transition that takes place here at BJW from wannabe journo to nascent newshound!

He writes:

“So there it is. Halfway. This week marks not only the midpoint of the course but also the start of the transition into the exam period. Chocolate rain heralded the end of the Teeline theory (and the beginning of two hours of speed building lessons a day), we’ve reached the end of the public affairs syllabus and very nearly the end of the media law material. Mocks are looming and soon we’ll be starting production and subbing.

I realised a couple of weeks ago that, in spite of my best efforts to choose a phrase that I was confident I could write in Teeline properly at the time, the banner at the top of this blog isn’t quite correct. We hadn’t done the w-n blend by that point.

I’m leaving it as it is though because the whole point of this blog is that it’s a chronicle of learning. There’s no better illustration of that than close-but-no-cigar shorthand.

With the end (sort of) in sight, thoughts are naturally beginning to turn towards the future. They’ve been focused for so long on the build-up to and actually being on and getting through the course that it feels a little bit odd to be considering life after once again.

We’ve been talking about work experience, putting a journalism CV together and actually starting to secure placements. This has prompted me, for the first time, to contemplate properly what kind of journalism I’m really interested in and what I’ll need to do in order to pursue it.

In truth, I’m still working on that and I don’t really have an answer just yet.

I do feel energised though. It might all come crashing down around me at some point but, right now, the prospect of getting out there, getting a job and starting a career is actually starting to look achievable and that is a very refreshing feeling. After all, the prospect of finding something fulfilling was really the ultimate motivation for me doing the course in the first place.

For the first time in my life that I can remember, I actually find myself looking forward to the future. If nothing else (and there’s plenty else) it’s been worth it so far just for that.”

You’re doing great, Chris, keep it up!