Two months on the NCTJ: here’s what I’ve learnt.

September seems a long time ago, doesn’t it? It was just over two months that I started my NCTJ qualification; in that amount of time, I have learnt a lot. And I have been immersed in ‘being a journalist’-if you can call me that. Therefore, I thought that I would share with you what I have learnt.

1. 25 words or longer? That sentence is in trouble.

This is what I learnt in Essential Journalism, but also something I picked up in a video featuring Harry Evans. In any form of writing-news writing particularly-you need to be to the point. Excess words stifle what you wish to convey. If there’s extra, delete them.

2. Worry not about the how, it’s the what and why.

When starting the course, I worried about the how of how I wrote; I had to be hyper-stylised. As a result, my writing could become clustered, stuck in my head. Following on from point one, be simple; worry about the what you write-there’s libel, for goodness sake-and why you write it.

3. Twitter is an immense tool.

It should not be abused. It’s also why I have not been partaking in ‘FF’s’; it seems so separate from being a Journalist. Besides, I guess I’m too small fry, on the edge of the blog community, to make the most of it.

4. Shorthand takes a long time. You need to practice daily.

What else can I say? I think that this will be the bane of my life. All the fiddly lines and symbols… And dictations! Ugh. But I’m getting there. Sort of. If you’d like to find out more about shorthand, click here for tips. 

5. Ask the right questions. 

You’re job is to be a fact finding Ninja… and to get the information, you need to ask the right questions. People don’t always answer the questions you ask them; so, ask the right questions. If you’re interviewing, re-phrase the question.

To see another fellow Journalism Blogger, and read about her NCTJ experience, click here. (I wrote for her blog under the name ‘Annette Stevens’.)

Lydia

XO

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