Studying journalism at News Associates: My first month as a trainee journalist

We love catching up with our journalism students at News Associates as they undertake their Diploma in Multimedia Journalism at the UK’s number one NCTJ journalism school.

This week, fast-track trainee Laura Fox tells us about her first month at News Associates in London.

“It’s unbelievable to think it has already been a month since I started studying journalism at News Associates.

Although 22 weeks sounds like a long time, it’s actually going very quickly – so much has been packed into my first month and I have learned so much already.

I have been planning to do this course since I first heard about it while on work experience with a newspaper five years ago. And because it had been on my mind for such a long time, I had built up pretty big expectations.

There were all sorts of questions whizzing round my head. What sort of people would I be studying with? What sort of journalism experience did they have? How would I cope with everything, including shorthand?

To say I was nervous on my first day is an understatement. As I’d moved straight from a full-time job into starting this course, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would feel the change. Not only do I commute quite a distance, but meeting new people is something I’ve always found scary.

When I started chatting to everyone, it felt like they had a lot more journalism experience than me, especially because I am on the younger side of the group.

But everyone relaxed very quickly and we all get on so well now. Everyone is from different backgrounds with different interests. And we all have different areas of journalism we want to go into. We’re so close now that it feels like I’ve known everybody for more than a month.

The course is intense, and although we were warned from the start, it’s the extra work we have to put in that threw me, not the long hours in class.

I’m always researching stories and keeping up to date with current affairs – and I am reading a much larger variety of news now than I used to.

When I say extra work, I am particularly talking about Teeline shorthand. You don’t think you need to practise it as much as you do – but two hours every night is crucial.

For the last month, I have thought about shorthand day and night. Whenever I take notes, I try to do a mixture of short and longhand. It’s a slow process, but I am getting the hang of it.

One of my highlights from the first month was when we put together a South West Londoner e-edition.

I have never had the chance to help put a paper together before and I really enjoyed the sub-editing. We all worked well in our teams and everyone contributed a good selection of stories.

There’s room for improvement, but I know we will get better and better over the course of the next 18 weeks.

With the first month over, I feel like I’m getting into the stride of things now. Practising shorthand, researching stories and reading newspapers every day – they all come naturally to me now.

As a group everyone is really supportive, putting those early nerves I had to bed. And now I feel more than ready for the challenges ahead.”

See what our other fast-track, part-time and sports journalism trainees have been up to here

News Associates is officially the UK’s number one NCTJ journalism course. We have an unrivalled job record and our trainees have gone on to achieve great things.

We are now recruiting for our September and October intakes in London and Manchester – apply now