Farewell the Detective – big city life finds him out

Ned Murray

Whilst reading this blog over the last month and a half it might have come to your attention that I haven’t been active in updating you with my latest experience adjusting to life in London and training as an investigative journalist.

There is one simple answer to this: I no longer live in London, I am not currently training to be an investigative journalist and from this post on I am no longer a Wannabe Hack.


After just a month living in Bethnal Green and at the start of my fourth week of my MA at City University London I made the very difficult decision to defer my place at City. Having spent the past weeks debating my choice I know now that I made the right decision.

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Notes from a Notebook: The Student

The Student's notebook. (click to enlarge)

We all know how desperate you are to see the innermost thoughts, plans and desires of the Hacks, but rather than making you wait until one of us leaves a notebook on a train (it could happen), we thought we’d introduce a new series: ‘Notes from a notebook.’

If nothing else, it’s a chance to see the scribblings of  five Mad Men (not in the cool way like our avatars) but mad in the sense of wanting to get into journalism at this point in time. It also proves that there will always be room for a good notepad however dominant emails, iPads and smartphones become.

Up first, the decrepit diary of The Student.

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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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Guest Post – Jason Grant

This is the first of a series of posts about other hard working hacks and their routes into journalism.This week, Jason Grant – broadcast journalist and media trainer – tells us what life is like after a BJTC.

So I’m a BJTC qualified broadcast journalist from City University London, what next?


As far back as I remember I always wanted to be a reporter. For the last five years, since taking a BTEC National Diploma in radio production, I’ve been completely hooked. Most people struggle to find their voice and battle with their confidence, so if your anything like me, being able to overcome those fears is essential to handling the day to day in a newsroom.

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