NCTJ

5 weeks and counting.

It’s been five weeks now since I’ve started the course and the amount of work and contact hours are really starting to take its toll!

Every Friday in shorthand, we do a transcription passage, which gets us used to the format of the exam. However because it is unprepared and unseen, she only reads it at 40wpm. Surprisingly, it is very hard, even though a passage I have looked at before I can write comfortably at 70wpm. The hard thing about these is reading your own shorthand back, sometimes you can write it all down correctly but once you are trying to read it back to write it up in longhand, it’s much more of a challenge. I seem to forget what the passage is even about as when you’re writing it in shorthand, you don’t really listen to what is being said you’re just trying to think what the outline is going to be. I was reading my notes back and the letters that were written were blnd hr and for some reason it took me aaageess to realize that it obviously meant blonde hair. We’re onto unit 13 now – unit 20 ends the theory so still got quite a bit to go until the speed development passages, which I can imagine are going to be stressful!

I’m really enjoying Design and it’s a shame really that we only get it for a couple of hours on a Monday each week. The simplest of things that we have learnt have proven to show that we can do our own magazine layout now – albeit a very basic one. We have to use this for our subbing exam so sometimes I’m finding it hard to navigate around the programme but I think the more I use it, the more naturally it will come. We have to make our own double page spread and we are meant to be thinking about what sort of design we would like in the next couple of weeks. There are so many options and so much choice, I don’t know whether to go for something quite simple but that looks engaging or something really quirky.

It is definitely one of those things that because you have learnt it, you start analysing things every day even when you’re not in class. Now when I pick up a magazine or newspaper I’m thinking, ‘What would Phil say about this design?’. I guess that’s a good thing in the long run.

Reporting was about face to face interviews this week. When I first realized I wanted to be a journalist I knew that you can’t be shy. In interviews, it’s not about just writing down questions and asking them all in a row in that order, it is also about establishing a rapport with people and making them feel comfortable so that sometimes the interview is more casual than it may seem. A lot of the interviews I have done for my blog or previous articles, have been over email which is not a great way to interview as our tutor said. It doesn’t get the right essence of the person and they don’t have much scope to expand about other topics if you have restricted them to a certain set of questions. As part of reporting this week, we were also set group tasks to go and investigate a story in Brighton and write up an article on it. This involves us going out and talking to people or phoning up/emailing. Although our story wasn’t great this week (the effect of Olympics on Brighton tourism), I realized that I need to get over my phone-fear. Other people in the group were very confident and prompt in ringing up press offices and asking for quotes or any further information, whereas because of my fear I seemed to resort to email. I have done it before and I don’t find it that daunting, but I wish it was just easy for me to pick up the phone and get a quote, rather than relying on the email all the time! It’s definitely not as effective.

Law has been about sexual offences this week – pretty sad stuff to be learning about but it is interesting, if you can call it that.

As part of our portfolio, we have to write a public affairs piece. This is compulsory and set by the NCTJ for both newspaper and magazine portfolios, I guess as a way to consolidate what we have learnt in our lessons and reproduce this into an article. We have to make sure we get at least three sources for this piece, which is easier said than done. I flicked through the PA book, as the things we have done so far I either find boring or too hard or too confusing, and I found at the back a chapter on children’s welfare. I think I may do my article on foster carers in Sussex, but I am yet to narrow down on a specific issue to focus on.

There is always something to do on this course. By that, I mean there there is never nothing to do. Whenever I get home I don’t have the luxury of thinking I have no work to do this evening. There is always shorthand to practice, always law homework, always portfolio work, always SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE!

Luckily today is the beginning of the weekend and I am desperate for my day off tomorrow.

 

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