Covering the General Election as a trainee journalist at News Associates

We love catching up with our trainees as they undertake their journalism courses at News Associates – the UK’s number one NCTJ journalism school.

This week part-time trainee Robert Middleton describes what it was like going to a count and covering the General Election.


My colleague and I arrived at the Croydon count hours before any other media or the candidates themselves – either through enthusiasm or unfamiliarity with the proceedings on an election night.

After orientating ourselves – paying particular attention to the location of coffee – ballots and officials started arriving, signalling the mad rush to find anyone with a strong enough affiliation to a candidate or a party to have an opinion worth reporting.

After being a little tentative about what to expect going into the evening, the exit polls predicted a hung parliament and a fascinating evening for a trainee journalist.

I found it quite strange how open and willing to talk some councillors and campaigners were – not something I should get used to, I expect.


By this point I was running on caffeine and adrenaline. (Little did I know how much longer there was to go.)

But more importantly we were starting to get a general idea of how each seat was looking – it’s very strange virtually knowing the result before the public and it puts you in a bit of a quandary as to how much you can report.

Luckily, we’ve been trained for this and our tutors were at the other end of the phone if we needed any advice.


Madness. Suspense. Then madness.

The announcement of a key marginal seat had been ten minutes away for about an hour. Then suddenly all the candidates are in the room.

Teeline shorthand, so often the bane of a trainee’s existence, came into its own as we took down the best of the acceptance speeches ready to send over flash quotes to the office.

Rather inconsiderately, after having made us wait seven hours for the first declaration, there were now two in the space of around half an hour.


The trip from the count to the office gave us time to get coffee and take stock of results elsewhere in the country.

When we arrived back at the office, there was no time to catch up with people. We moved straight on to writing and producing the South West Londoner e-edition so it could go out as early as possible.

With all the content in, we moved to some of the most intense subbing I am ever likely to do.

The whole day used pretty much everything I have been taught at News Associates and I will remain incredibly proud of the coverage wherever I end up.”

And if all that sounds like your cup of tea, we are now interviewing for our fast-track, part-time and sports journalism courses in London and Manchester – apply here.

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