Wanted: a fifth Wannabe Hack

Wannabe Hacks are looking for a fifth hack to join our ranks.

Fifth Hack

As we explained on Thursday The Detective will no longer be blogging about getting into the media after deferring his postgraduate course place. It means that we would like someone to help blog about the ups and downs of getting into the big bad world of journalism.

The only stipulation is that you must be trying to get into the media in some shape or form.

Other than that, we’re easy.

It may be useful, but not necessary, if you are trying to do so through a path we do not cover at the moment – e.g. an NCTJ course, newspaper/magazine traineeship, trainee reporter on a local paper etc.

It would also be a bonus if you were in the vicinity of London (we like to share the odd beverage now and again). But this is equally not a must because we would happily welcome a Northern point of view on the getting into the media.

We’re also looking to hear from women trying to get into the media as we’re a male-dominated bunch – a female perspective certainly wouldn’t go amiss.

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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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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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The great degree debate: journalism undergrad or otherwise?

Last Thursday, alongside those waiting for their A-Levels, thousands of 17-year-olds received their AS Level results. This brought back horrible memories of the worry and confusion that followed in the weeks after I was presented with my Year 12 results.

Obviously, if you haven’t done well in your AS Levels it’s tough to deal with and to then to decide where to go from that point. A great deal of emphasis is placed on AS Levels as many schools use them to set predicted A-Level results, which are submitted to universities when students apply to their chosen institutions via UCAS. But even for those who get the results they want, or even better than expected, the aftermath of receiving AS results can be a confusing time in which you are forced to make a big decision about what course you want to pursue.

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