Our guide to Journalism
Alistair Stafford

Our guide to Journalism

First published date October 30 2013 Amended date May 01 2015

Are you a keen writer who is obsessed with blogging? Or perhaps you’re a football fanatic who’s a wannabe radio presenter?  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a budding hack looking for further experience, an upcoming broadcaster wanting a formal qualification, or just a good communicator hoping to try your luck at breaking into the media, we’ll have a journalism course to suit you.


What you’ll learn

With so many different variations of journalism course, ranging from sports journalism courses to feature writing courses, there are huge differences in what content you’re likely to cover on each one. Typically, you’ll be shown how to write clearly and concisely and also helped to improve your interviewing technique. You may also be given a run through on the basics of radio and television, with more detail given to those on a specific broadcasting course.

On a longer journalism course, modules in media law and media ethics are likely to be covered to ensure you know what you’re legally allowed to report on. Shorthand could also be included, which is a quick way of taking down notes using a series of symbols. It takes some time getting used to, but it’s a fantastic skill to have once you’ve got the hang of it!


But isn’t journalism dying....

No it isn’t. There’s no denying that the local newspaper industry is generally struggling, as sales of papers slump, but a booming increase of people viewing content online means that traditional journalism will certainly continue to live on for years to come. There are still plenty of radio stations looking for broadcasters, while the national newspapers are always on the lookout for reliable freelance journalists.


Making a career out of it

A journalism course can be great if you want extra writing experience or are looking to boost your communications skills, but it can also be the stepping stone towards a new profession. For those of you that are looking at turning your passion into a career, these Hotcourses top tips will help you stand out from the crowd when trying to break into the journalism industry:

. Get on an accredited course – There are hundreds of journalism courses nationwide, but be wary as not all of them are industry recognised. NCTJ (National Council of Trainee Journalists) accredited courses allow students to take the diploma in journalism, which is considered the benchmark of newspaper journalism training. The BJTC (Broadcast Journalism Trainee Council) and the PTC (Periodical’s Training Council) are also bodies which approve courses, with employers looking out for all three of these when taking on new staff.

. Get plenty of experience – With competition for journalism jobs so fierce, you’ll need a bulging CV full of experience to stand out from the crowd. Having a scrapbook full of bylines or a demo tape crammed with a variety of broadcast work will set you in good stead. Voluntary work at your local hospital radio station, work experience at your regional newspaper and having a regularly updated blog start are all good starts, which could lead to your first big break.

. Make lots of industry contacts – Building a good reputation with editors and senior journalists is vitally important, as by getting a glowing reference from them it will help you get further opportunities elsewhere. Not only that, but if you impress them with your work, then they’re likely to give you more chances to work for them (plus who is likely to be in mind should a full-time job become available?).

. Never give up! – If you keep writing as often as possible, continue to search for new opportunities and can bounce back from any set-backs you receive, then you’re in the perfect position to hopefully get your big journalism break.


Could you sub your own work?

The days where every newspaper and magazine had a big team of sub-editors has sadly gone, leaving many journalists left to self-sub their own work. Think you have an attention to detail? Spot the spelling or grammatical error in each of our five facts about the journalism industry:

1)      Over 2.2million people buy the the Sun newspaper every day.

2)      Their are around 250 community radio stations across the UK.

3)      2014 will be the 50th anniversery of the launch of BBC Two.

4)      The Metro and the Evening Standard are two free nwspapers given out on the London Underground.

5)      The NJTC diploma in journalism is considered the benchmark qualification for a newspaper journalism career.


Find that easy?

If that mini-subbing test was straight forward for you, then you’ve made a good start. A journalism course will likely give you similar tests (a lot harder, of course) as well as set you on your way to a journalism career. Even if you go on to discover that the media isn’t for you, the writing and communication qualities you’ll have gained from the journalism course can be transferred into any profession. 

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