Shorthand is arguably the toughest element of the NCTJ Diploma – but the hard work is all worth it in the end.
Speed is everything in today’s internet age.
According to the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters – it’s three times quicker to type out shorthand notes than to listen back to audio recordings.
It’s also illegal to make audio or video recordings of most proceedings in UK courts.
Piers Morgan, when asked for advice on being a journalist, said ‘work hard and do your shorthand’ while Chris Elliott, the readers’ editor at The Guardian, adds: “Most mainstream employers insist on 100 wpm as it makes students more able to do the job at the pace required and is a means of sifting through the large number of applicants. It also shows that students are serious about journalism and committed to being the best.”
Andrew Marr, when talking about the skills needed for journalism, wrote: “You need some intelligence, more stamina and excellent shorthand’.
Graham Dudman, our editorial board chairman, writes on the importance of shorthand here.
We don’t expect our trainees to know any shorthand before they start the course, and it is probably a good thing if they don’t. We like a nice blank canvas to work with.
You’d be learning Teeline at News Associates – the most accessible and popular form of shorthand practised by journalists in this day and age.
But don’t be fooled. In many ways it is like learning a new language in 20 weeks – it can seem like a real slog and we expect you to put in plenty of work at home.
By and large it takes six long, hard weeks to learn the theory – the Teeline alphabet, deciding which letters you need, special forms of words and how and when to join words together. After that we’ll really crank up the speed building.
We don’t want to ruin the surprise but we have plenty of tricks up our sleeve to ensure our trainees enjoy learning what can at first seem a daunting subject.
We’ve got competitions that will see you pitted against your fellow students, with plenty of prizes to be won – and if you play your cards right we might even turn on the TV or crack open a CD of some classic tunes for you to practise along to.
Our teachers have decades of experience to ensure you achieve the best possible speeds – and this formula has been paying dividends, with some groundbreaking results.
Over the last year across our London and Manchester centres, more than 85% of candidates passed with the magic 100 words per minute, head and shoulders above the national average.
You’ll be very hard pressed to find anywhere to hold a candle to that – and we are doing everything we can to ensure that figure continues to rise.
Add to that a staggering six passes at 110wpm on the last course and the fact that Jo Carter has collected the NCTJ’s national shorthand prize for a flawless pass at 120wpm and you can see why we’re so proud of our results.
If you want to read what to expect, take a few minutes to read a week-by-week blog written by former trainee Hannah Ingram – now a reporter at Lancashire Living magazine.