Wayne Rooney holiday. Cheryl Cole tights.

This blog will get you a job in journalism. I am so sorry, that was a lie, but I hope that the opening line at least made you read as far as this sentence and therefore allows me to introduce my latest hack topic – being able to write a good introduction.

In learning how to become 21st century journalists we are being taught all the latest tricks of the trade, about social media, blogging blah, blah, blah. Despite all that new fangled crazy stuff some things never change and one of those things is the need for a good introduction. Capture the reader’s attention, get them interested in the first five words, write it as you would tell someone in the street, these are the kind of hints and tips which we young journo whipper snappers must remember everyday. But it isn’t really as simple as that is it?

How the hell do I make that sound worth a read?

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Browne Review could see shift towards NCTJ short course

The Browne Review on university tuition fees was published this week to a mixed public reaction.

But what specifically will the recommendations mean for journalism as a degree subject and, subsequently, for the media industry in the long term? The Student takes a look at the potential consequences for young journalists as a result of the tuition fee hike.

What the Browne Review recommends?

Lord Browne

Lord Browne, in a nutshell, has recommended that the current cap on fees (which stands at £3,290) should be scrapped and a higher fee charged. In 2009 Universities UK, a higher education action group, suggested tuition fees should double to £7,000. However, Lord Browne’s review has implied that universities will be able to decide what they think their education is worth, meaning some institutions could charge more than £10,000.

Importantly, (as the BBC explains in more detail here) universities charging more than £6,000 would be charged an increasing levy on each further £1,000. Other recommendations include an increase in the wage graduates would earn before they began to pay their tuition fee back (rising to £21,000 from £15,000) and the slight increase in the number of years after which any outstanding debt would be wiped out (30 years from 25).

But what this will mean for journalism degrees?

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On the prowl in my patch. But how do I start my hunt for news?

So, a busy first week at City University was concluded with an exhaustive and contemplative Friday afternoon. The previous day, myself and The Student, along with our other classmates on the Newspaper Journalism MA, had been given our patch to report on for the coming term. The deal; the group was split into pairs and assigned a ward in either Islington or Hackney. The remit; to compile a ‘Patch File’ of between 30 to 40 pages including six news stories and three key interviews.

The Student got lucky by landing Clerkenwell, the ward closest to the University itself, or in fact the ward the University is in (both of those statements could be wrong, my London geography still isn’t top-notch). Either way, he wouldn’t have to worry about travelling to his turf. I on the other hand was assigned Queensbridge ward, in Hackney, not the furthest of the wards from the University but a decent trip.

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NCTJ is still industry standard – but it might not be for much longer

Following the post by The Student about the relevance and worth of an NCTJ course Rhys Hayward – one of the latest hacks in the production line of the News Associates NCTJ in Wimbledon – gives his thoughts on the NCTJ and its future.

In my opinion it is impossible to judge the NCTJ certificate in black and white because of the vastly variable nature of both the industry and the centres which are approved to teach the qualification. I recently qualified at News Associates in Wimbledon as a 100%er – that is someone who has passed all four main disciplines taught by the NCTJ: News Writing, Media Law, Public Affairs and Teeline Shorthand at 100 words per minute.

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We must wait and see if NCTJ is still industry standard

Roy Greenslade has flagged up an interesting point in his latest Guardian blog. In short, he questions whether university journalism courses need to be accredited by the National Council for the Teaching of Journalism (NCTJ) and, citing the example of the University of Strathclyde (who withdrew from the NCTJ in 2008), asks whether the course actually provides the skills for the ‘journalists of the future’.

Journo Students

This is particularly pertinent to the Wannabe Hacks as myself, The Chancer and The Detective will be starting journalism masters at City University next week.

City (as Mr Greenslade points out in his article) is not NCTJ certified.

In the year or so before applying to study journalism at City, I had to weigh up whether it was better to study a postgraduate course at a non-NCTJ accredited institution (like City, Goldsmiths or Westminster) or to do a short course NCTJ qualification and supplement that with work experience. In effect, I was torn between what I was told was the national standard for journalists – the Michelin Star for journalism courses – and what I thought would equip me with the skills to be a top-class reporter.


One question that I had, and that many young journalists may have too, is whether or not having an NCTJ qualification would affect job opportunities in the future. My answer would be probably not.

National newspaper generally don’t deem any journalism qualifications essential and, although some local newspapers editors swear by the NCTJ and will not employ anyone unless they have passed it (the editor of the North West London Newsquest titles told me as much), it’s not a hard and fast rule.

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Getting in the door

I am two days into a two month internship, so I don’t yet feel I can give my first impressions aside to say they are quite uplifting. However, watching friends go for interviews and land experience and internships of their own I do think I can talk about how to get your foot in and through the door.

You can never be too keen:

Really, I think this is very important; from your covering letter through to your first interview (if you have one) you must find a way to communicate a passion and engagement for your ‘subject’ area. This means a thorough knowledge of several areas:

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