How to choose the right journalism course

Finding the right training course is an important stepping stone for any aspiring reporter or broadcaster. Here are a few pointers to help you make that choice.

When choosing a course it’s worthwhile remembering that the demand for multimedia journalists with a high degree of competency in everything from blogs to podcasts is likely to increase. So it is worth looking at the degree of online training provided.

The core skills of journalism – the ability to find a good story and tell it in a clear and informative way – remain fundamental.

Guardian columnist and NCTJ chairman, Kim Fletcher, advises aspiring students to do their research and think of the type of journalism they want to pursue. ‘It’s probably best to keep options open and get an all round training in journalism,’he says.

‘Copy writing, media law and public affairs are a sound foundation for a career in any branch of journalism, but look out for the availability of other options that some providers offer – such things as training in on-line journalism, sub-editing and sports journalism.’He also adds: ‘Shorthand is not an old-fashioned skill, it’s a must-have.”

There is a variety of course structures to choose from, so its important to investigate which best suits your requirements. Undergraduates may choose to study a journalism degree, or specialise in another subject and opt for a postgraduate journalism course later.

Some centres offer fast-track courses (typically about 18 weeks), which are a popular way of becoming qualified in a quicker and comparably less expensive manner than year-long or degree courses. Fast-track courses are, however, extremely intense, with a full-time commitment required and a lot of subject matter condensed into a short space of time.

As Chris Walker, regional managing editor for Trinity Mirror titles including the Liverpool Echo, points out, while journalism qualifications and academic aptitude are important, he also looks for other signs that a candidate has the potential to be ‘a first-class journalist”.

A key asset in this respect is confidence, he says: ‘Reporters need to be as comfortable interviewing the managing director of a big company as they are talking to the bloke in the street who has just been made redundant.’

Work experience is also an important indicator of a person’s commitment to a job in the industry, and Walker suggests students should seek out as much as possible.

‘The range of experience demonstrates tenacity,”?he says. ‘If someone has been going to different newspapers asking for work

experience it shows that they haven’t chosen to be a reporter just because it seems like a fun, easy option.”

Ultimately, finding the right journalism course requires the same instincts and research skills that will prove vital throughout your working life.

Universities and training centres are all offering a product, so it’s up to you to exercise your choice wisely before making that important, and potentially career-defining, investment in your future.

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