NCTJ

Week 10… I’m still here.

No I haven’t forgotten about my weekly diary of this dreaded-no-social-life-time-consuming-shattering-course. I got rather sidetracked last week, partly because I was trying to catch up on my work from Brussels, also partly because it was my Birthday  near the end of the week (which I may have enjoyed a bit too much) and also because my lovely Friday afternoons have recently been taken up with Video Journalism workshops. phew.

So it feels like I haven’t blogged in ages, which I haven’t since Brussels! So I’m going to give you a short update of all my modules and where we are.

REPORTING. I am just about to go get my train to the Hove crown courts today! We are going there instead of our reporting lesson and I’m going to attempt to use shorthand although I don’t know how well that will go down. I do a court reporting module as well which is all to do with Law, but our teacher thought it might be a good idea to see what its like to go to court as a journalist. We’ve done two full past papers in reporting now and the first one I got marked I managed to pass at the gold standard… just. It’s so hard, everyone’s results were so low! The exam structure is very similar in every paper though it is just the content and story that changes. One of the questions from the second part requires you to write a newsflash or a tweet about your story including hashtags! I love how the NCTJ are becoming updated by including social media in their exams, although it is useful and definitely something people will use after the course. I rambled on on the social media questions and got high marks for that!

Update: After sitting through a rather intense, gruesome and serious court hearing – I can confirm I did manage to use shorthand! Although they did talk quite slowly. The case was pretty hard to sit through, I don’t think I could be a court reporter… or a lawyer in that case.

SHORTHAND. My favourite at the moment, everything else seems like a drag and a long road until the exams. With shorthand I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere. It’s weird to think the first time our teacher read out 40wpm passage and we all freaked out and had a panic attack at how fast it was (I probably blogged about it). And last week we did a full 4 minute exam passage at 60wpm and I passed, yippee! It was only a practice, but was completed exactly how an exam would be (which is in like 3 weeks arrghhh). The first exam we have is 70wpm and that’s on the 13th December. All our classes are full of speed building now, writing unprepared passages, going over revision, and practicing hard outlines. At home I have been trying to write at 80wpm so when I hear 70, it doesn’t sound as fast! I’m starting to write and use shorthand in every lesson! The teacher will be talking and I will start seeing how quickly I can take it down in shorthand, especially when it’s a dull lesson. Some words I’m so familiar with writing in shorthand that it’s weird to write in longhand. Anyway, once with 70wpm exam is over, I need to then force myself to try and get the 100, I’m determined but it’s ridiculously fast, who knows!

Update: We had a 60wpm exam today in class and I felt it went quite well BUT our teacher has put up exam recordings so we can do it at home. Just tried the first 70wpm one, it was awful. Tried the second one, couldn’t do it. Tried the third, threw my pen on the floor. I realllyyy hope the exam passage in December is a nice one with lots of easy words!!

I hate this book. Bane of my life. Go away.

DESIGN/SUBBING. I probably spend the least time worrying or thinking about this module. In design we have started making our double page spread. I’m doing mine on travel so I’ve got some loovely pictures of Fiji beach that I stole from my sister. I still feel very amateur with InDesign though because we only get an hour and a half a week doing design, I should probably try and do it outside lessons but I’ve got too much else to think about. In subbing we have been doing a lot of grammar, but next week we are going to start going through the exam where we have to copy fit text in their text boxes.

PA. We have moved onto the local government part of the course now, which is strangely interesting to learn about things that you can actually apply to every day things in the news. I had my PA test on central government this week, which we had to do in exam conditions with no notes. We had a choice of 2/3 questions which was lucky because the question on the treasury and economics was like another language to me. I chose a question on the EU (luckily Brussels helped me with the answers to that) and the House of Lords. They weren’t too hard, and my favourite part is that we get to TYPE our exam! I’ve wanted this for so long with exams and finalllyyyy I don’t have to worry about messy writing or hand aching! Results for that will be next week so I will keep you posted. I was quite good revising for central government and already have my revision notes for it 🙂

LAW. We are going to have two exams when it comes to law – essential law and court reporting. We’ve just finished the court reporting syllabus although I still need to revise! The one thing that makes me less nervous for the exam is that every week we get law homework, which are past paper questions from the NCTJ exams, so we have had a lot of practice although the majority of the time I am using my notes. When I first knew that we had to take law as a compulsory module I thought it was going to be very dull and unnecessary but now I realise that it really is essential for journalists and it’s hard to think that journalists an survive (without being sued!!) without it. I thought it might just apply to news but it applies to everything you write about anyone. There are so many conditions, defences and clauses that journalists need to know to make sure their writing is safe.

PORTFOLIO. Bane of my life. Eugh. Luckily I have realised recently that I am able to used some previously published work for this which takes a bit of the stress off. I am currently writing two pieces – my PA piece which is based on the EU being introduced into the national curriculum, and my B2B piece which is for a journalism publication. I keep getting told my writing is too wordy and I need to make it SIMPLE which I’m finding hard, and still have the essay style stuck in my head!

Plan for next week:

  • Work on my double page spread 
  • Do the 70wpm practice without throwing a strop
  • Finish my PA article and hand in

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