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NCTJ Diploma in Journalism

nctj reporterGetting into journalism is competitive, but an NCTJ qualification is a good way to kickstart your career. Read on to find out more.

What is the NCTJ?

The NCTJ is the National Council for the Training of Journalists, a charity which teaches journalism skills. The main qualification they award is the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism, which is normally attained after studying an NCTJ-accredited journalism course.

Although the Diploma isn’t essential for getting a job in journalism, it is recognised and well respected by editors and employers as proof that you have practical journalism training.

What does the training involve?

The Diploma consists of five core skills which all students must study, followed by a choice of two specialisms.

The core skills are:

  • Reporting covers how to produce good news stories. It involves accurate news gathering, interview techniques, writing engaging copy and editing for print, radio, TV and online.
  • Essential public affairs covers how government works, and how political news stories should be reported.
  • Essential media law covers things like libel and professional codes of practice, so journalists know how to operate within the law. It also introduces the basics of court reporting.
  • Shorthand teaches Teeline – the industry standard shorthand. NCTJ-trained journalists are expected to be able to accurately transcribe quotes at 100 words per minute or faster.
  • The four core skills above are assessed in exams. In addition, students must produce a multimedia portfolio which includes print, broadcast and online work to complete the course.

nctj videojournalistThe specialisms are:

  • Media law court reporting develops the essential media law core skill to cover court reporting restrictions and ethical issues.
  • Sports journalism teaches specific skills for producing sports stories, from live match reports to interviewing at press conferences.
  • Video journalism for online teaches students how to produce and publish video stories online, covering filming, editing and interview techniques amongst other things.
  • Business of magazines covers how the publishing industry works, from the editorial staff structure at magazines to revenue and advertising.
  • Production journalism covers sub-editing, desktop publishing, proofreading and design.
  • Broadcast journalism covers the specific skills needed for broadcast journalism, such as a clear speaking voice, writing concise scripts and live broadcasts.

How do I get on the course?

The NCTJ Diploma in Journalism can be studied as a standalone course, or as part of another qualification such as an MA or other postgraduate qualification. The entry requirements will differ according to where you study, although most places will expect at least A-levels or equivalent. Fees will also vary, as the length of study can range from six months for a ‘fast track’ diploma course to four years if part of another qualification. It can also be studied as a distance learning course.

There are also different NCTJ-accredited courses such as HNDs and bachelor’s degrees in areas like photojournalism, newspaper journalism and magazine journalism, which can either be studied separately or before the Diploma. The NCTJ also offers standalone shorthand exams and other media training. Visit the NCTJ website for a full list of NCTJ-accredited courses and where you can study them.

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