Train to be a journalist

So you want to be a journalist?

And who can blame you? The working day of a journalist can be action-packed, exciting and even glamorous. It can also be stressful, routine and at times uncomfortable – and that's all before lunch!

But the one thing being a journalist is not, is boring. Each day brings a fresh challenge – be it interviewing the latest celebrity to hit town or covering the big fire at a local factory. No day is ever the same and you are never quite sure what the next 24 hours will bring.

Journalism can be one of the most satisfying careers, helping make a difference by enriching people’s lives, entertaining them or giving them information they need to make their daily decisions. It gives you the chance to challenge and inspire, and although at times you may be disliked, you will rarely be ignored.

What qualifications do you need?

You will need a minimum of 5 GCSEs of grade C or above including English and Maths plus two A Levels although the subject area is not important. Study the subjects you enjoy most and in which you are likely to get the best results.

What do editors look for?

  • An interest in news – from the village coffee morning to the war on terrorism
  • A curiosity about people, places and events
  • The ability to work to deadlines and cope with pressure
  • Good spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • A willingness to work outside the 9 to 5 routine
  • Work experience, work experience, work experience

Where do I get the training?

There used to be various routes into journalism depending on whether you wanted to work in newspapers, magazines, online or broadcasting. But the modern journalist is expected to be multi-skilled. The new era journalist should be able to tackle the same story by filming a two minute video, writing Twitter bulletins or producing an in-depth news feature – and very often all three at the same time. But, whatever the medium, the basic principles of journalism remain the same – find out what’s going on, tell people as quickly as possible and with the maximum impact.

Editors look for specific industry qualifications that demonstrate the ability and knowledge to find and produce news which is well informed, legally safe and within deadline. For newspapers these qualifications come from the National Council for the Training of Journalists and are incorporated in courses at 42 colleges and universities across the UK, one of which is based at Glyndwr University at Wrexham. Training for other areas of the industry is covered by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council and the Periodical Publishers Association.

How important is work experience?

Editors want to know that you have spent time in a newsroom and know how it operates. So work experience is an essential. It can be difficult to get as there is a lot of demand and busy newsrooms can only cope with one or two students at a time. So you will have to persuade the editor of your local newspaper, magazine or broadcaster that they really can’t afford to miss the opportunity of giving you your first taste of the world of journalism.

What about journalism training in north Wales?

The only NCTJ accredited course in north Wales is at Glyndwr University in Wrexham. NWN Media has joined forces with the university to offer a journalism course which includes the NCTJ qualifications and high quality work experience. More than half of the course is spent in one of NWN Media's newsrooms as part of a structured placement.

Where can I find out more?

Glyndwr University NCTJ accredited journalism course

National Council for the Training of Journalists

Broadcast Journalism Training Council

Periodical Publishers Association