Fit for a king! News Associates part-time trainees rival nationals with royal wedding coverage

We assembled a team of 40+ part-time trainees to cover the royal wedding from across the UK and beyond to rival the nationals. Here’s what happened… 

We firmly believe you can’t learn journalism from a textbook which is why we scrapped traditional lessons on May 19 and got our part-time NCTJ trainees covering the royal wedding for real.

We had trainees at 12 different locations including at the heart of the action in Windsor, groups spread across south London getting reaction from street parties (and getting themselves invited to weddings) and a team back in our Wimbledon office monitoring a live photo feed and producing minute-by-minute coverage.

Elsewhere, dedicated trainee Sam Stevenson took a break from his trip to New York City to cover how our friends across the pond were celebrating Harry and Meghan’s big day.

The end result? A mammoth 16-page South West Londoner e-edition off the stone by 8pm and live video and text commentary across social media for nine hours straight.

After giving them time to recover, we got some of our trainees to reflect on the big day.

Jake Foxford – in Windsor

“A 2am alarm isn’t usually my idea of a great day, but the experience of reporting on the ground for the royal wedding in Windsor was completely invaluable.

We were briefed about what stories and angles our editors wanted and what our deadlines were – we had until 6pm to source, write and submit all the colour from the crowds to communicate the feeling of the public that other news outlets wouldn’t be able to get.

We were looking for stories from the moment we arrived Waterloo Station, juggling our social media coverage with video and interviews.

The pace was relentless but the stories from the public brilliant. We met families who had camped for days for the best views, tourists from Las Vegas and hundreds of other journalists jostling for the best camera angles and talking to wedding guests.

I learned more in that one day than I have in weeks of work shadowing because it was such an immersive experience.

We had to make every minute count and write to the tightest deadlines, but we all came away knowing we were better journalists for it and I’d do it all again.”

Vanessa Brown – live blog and social media

“Managing the live blog and social media for the royal wedding was a chance to practice everything I’d learnt so far while studying part-time for my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism at News Associates.

The day started at 9am with a rapid-fire briefing on how the live blogging platform worked and the kind of messaging needed on Twitter and Facebook.

There wasn’t a second to breath as we covered everything from the guests arriving at Windsor, the service and post-ceremony reaction.

Our job was done at 6pm when the newlyweds and their guests were enjoying their reception at Frogmore Hall.

I really enjoyed the day as, although it was hard work, it gave me a real insight into being a reporter in a newsroom and I love that I can say that I’ve covered a royal wedding!”

Joshua Brown – picture desk

We also worked with a leading photo agency to bring in a real-time news feed of thousands of pictures to give our photo editors the chance to select the best images under intense deadline pressure.

“It was great working on a fast-paced, international story with the imagery and photographs being the lead.

It was a lot of fun watching the live feed and for loads of images to be readily available at our fingertips and then working out as a team what images best represented and symbolised the day.

The greatest challenge was staying ahead of the schedule and reacting to changes or disappointments in not getting an image through we wanted and had planned for.

The highlight was choosing the cover and feeling like we had got it right.”

Sam Stevenson – our man in New York City

“After a few weeks of exams and shorthand struggle, my passion for journalism and reporting was reignited — and then some — when I was asked to take time out from my holiday in New York to provide reaction from across the pond on the royal wedding.

My day started early, as the ceremony began at 7am local time. By 6.45am, I was out in the (very rainy) streets of New York searching for people to talk to. It was tough at first and I spoke to several people and got several knock backs. Plus, the bad weather meant the streets were all but abandoned (a very rare sight in the ‘city that never sleeps’).

Eventually, I managed to find someone, undeterred by the weather, pressed up against the glass of the ABC News offices in Times Square and conducted a short interview in the rain.

I then got wind of a royal wedding-themed event at Madame Tussaud’s, Times Square. I was reminded of the perks of being a reporter when I was invited into the event, where dozens of New Yorkers had gathered to watch the ceremony.

Overall, the experience was amazing and has made me hungrier than ever to pursue my dreams. Thank you to all the people at News Associates for giving me this opportunity.”

News Associates deputy managing editor Graham Dudman said: “All the trainees put a huge amount of effort and enthusiasm into the day and can be very proud of what they produced.

They learned a lot from covering a huge story, not least the importance of teamwork in a newsroom. The buzz in the office was incredible and you could feel the adrenaline as the words, pictures, headlines and design came together.

Extensive planning in the days before the wedding by staff helped the day run smoothly and meant we were off-stone just after 8pm with 16 pages of excellent coverage.”

Apply to join our part-time NCTJ journalism course starting in October by clicking here.

See what else our full and part-time journalism courses get up to by clicking here.

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