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How to prepare for an NCTJ journalism course

Patricia Cruz

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You’ve been accepted onto your dream journalism course and the start date is looming… so what do you do next? Here are our top tips on how to prepare for an NCTJ journalism course.

Read, watch and listen to as much journalism as you can

This may seem obvious, but it’s so important you consume and appreciate a wide variety of journalism.

Not only will keeping up with the news help you stay informed, it will also show you the dos and don’ts of how to report stories.

deputy managing editor Graham Dudman says: “You’re about to take your first steps into the world of journalism so spend as much time as possible experiencing journalism by reading, watching and listening to the news.

“You should try to read as many news stories as possible every day from a newspaper or news website and watch or listen to at least one full news bulletin from either the BBC, ITN or Sky News. Scrolling through your Twitter echo-chamber does not count as digesting the news!   

“Pay attention to how different types of stories are covered and how much detail is or is not included. Know a little about a lot of what’s going on in your area, the UK and the world.”

Practise your writing

Flex those wrist muscles and practise writing, especially if you haven’t written in a while.

You could write a blog, pitch ideas to publications or even just write your own diary.

Practise writing any way you can to keep your spelling and grammar to a good standard – because once you start your course, you’ll realise just how important accuracy is!

GIF of a cat typing really fast

Develop your strengths

One of the best things about being a journalist is that you can draw on many weird and wonderful talents you’ve developed through your life.

Can you speak a different language? This is an incredible skill for a journalist to have, so try to keep it up – you can’t underestimate how much this may help your career in the future.

Are you a massive gaming fan? Put your knowledge to good use by writing reviews of your favourite games and consider how you can find opportunities to cover what you’re passionate about during your time on the course.

Do you have an artistic flair? Think about how you could use your illustration or graphics skills to accompany your journalism – multimedia skills are exactly what editors are looking for in 2021.

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Develop your weaknesses

Sometimes it’s not only important to think about your strengths, but also your weaknesses.

Research the course you are going to start and look at the modules on offer. Are there any you think you’re going to struggle with? If so, think about how you can develop those skills and prepare questions for your tutors that will help you get started.

You’re doing the course to learn, so it’s okay not to be an expert in everything from the start.

Explore social media

Journalism isn’t all newspapers and TV news… social media plays a huge part as well.

Start following journalists, publications and broadcasters on social media to see how they adapt stories for those platforms.

Twitter is where most professional journalists can be found, so can be an invaluable networking tool.

However, you should also explore other platforms – there is a wealth of quality journalism on Instagram and TikTok too!

Subscribe to newsletters

Subscribing to journalism newsletters is a great way to gain insight into the industry.

Job opportunity newsletters can also give you a good idea of the kind of jobs out there and the skills and qualifications they’re looking for.

You can read our blog on the best journalism newsletters here.

Be prepared to go out of your comfort zone

When thinking about starting your journalism course, you might feel overwhelmed and nervous. That’s perfectly normal but just remember everyone will be in the same boat.

Be prepared to push yourself and go out your comfort zone because that is how you will make the most of your NCTJ training before finding a journalism job.

At we don’t call you students, we call you trainees, because we treat you like journalists from day one.

Don’t worry

Now you know how to prepare for an NCTJ course, try not to worry and make sure you take some time to relax before the course starts.

You will learn so much on your course and by the end you will leave with the skills, qualification and confidence to walk into any journalism job.

You will also meet knowledgeable and supportive tutors, network with inspiring journalists, and you might even make friends for life.

Above all else, remember why you’re doing it in the first place and let your love for journalism shine!

If you want to be a journalist, an NCTJ course is the best way to kickstart your career. Find out more about the NCTJ qualification and how you can get one here.

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Journalism

The Top Journalism Websites for News and Analysis”

Alice Trout

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Journalism plays an essential role in keeping the public informed about current events and issues. The internet has made it easier than ever to access a wide range of news and analysis from reputable sources. Here are some of the best journalism sites for keeping up-to-date on the latest happenings around the world:

  1. The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) – The New York Times is a well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture.
  2. The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) – The Washington Post is another well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers in-depth coverage of national and international news, as well as commentary on politics, business, and more.
  3. The Guardian (www.theguardian.com) – The Guardian is a British newspaper that offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture. It has a strong reputation for investigative journalism and has won numerous awards.
  4. BBC News (www.bbc.com/news) – BBC News is the online news division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events.
  5. Al Jazeera (www.aljazeera.com) – Al Jazeera is a Qatari news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of the Middle East and North Africa.
  6. Reuters (www.reuters.com) – Reuters is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of business and financial news.
  7. CNN (www.cnn.com) – CNN is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of breaking news and live events.
  8. The Economist (www.economist.com) – The Economist is a British magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on economics and politics.
  9. The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com) – The Atlantic is an American magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on politics, culture, and technology.
  10. ProPublica (www.propublica.org) – ProPublica is a non-profit organization that focuses on investigative journalism. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of politics, business, and social issues.

Guest blogging is a highly effective marketing strategy that every business should be utilizing. By purchasing PR publications, you can increase traffic and establish authority.

These are just a few examples of the many great journalism websites that are available. Whether you’re looking for breaking news, in-depth analysis, or a particular perspective on current events, these sites are an excellent starting point.

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Journalism

The Ethics of Healthcare Advertising: Balancing the Right to Information with the Risk of Deception

Alice Trout

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Healthcare advertising has the potential to inform and educate the public about important medical treatments and products, but it must be done in an ethical and responsible manner. On one hand, the public has the right to access information about healthcare options that may improve their quality of life or save their lives. On the other hand, there is a risk that healthcare advertising could deceive or mislead consumers, leading to negative consequences for both the companies and the public.

One issue with healthcare advertising is the promotion of prescription drugs for off-label use. Off-label use refers to the use of a drug for a purpose that has not been approved by the regulatory agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. While it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe drugs for off-label use, it is illegal for pharmaceutical companies to promote drugs for off-label use. This is because the FDA has not determined that the drug is safe and effective for the unapproved use.

Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies have been known to engage in off-label promotion in order to increase sales. This can be harmful to patients, as they may be prescribed a drug that has not been thoroughly tested for the specific condition they are suffering from. In some cases, off-label use of a drug can even be dangerous.

Another issue with healthcare advertising is the use of exaggerated or misleading claims. This can include making false or unproven statements about the effectiveness of a drug or treatment, or downplaying the risks and side effects. Such practices can lead to consumers making informed decisions about their healthcare, and can also harm the reputation of the healthcare industry as a whole.

In order to strike a balance between the right to information and the risk of deception, it is important for both regulatory agencies and the healthcare industry to prioritize ethical practices in healthcare advertising. This can include measures such as strict oversight by regulatory agencies, clear guidelines for the approval and review of advertising materials, and campaigns to educate the public about how to evaluate and interpret healthcare advertising. By taking these steps, we can ensure that the public has access to accurate and reliable information about healthcare options, while also protecting against deceptive practices that can harm both consumers and the healthcare industry.

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Journalism

Supporting Startup Founders’ Mental Health: The Importance of Prioritizing Well-Being in the Fast-Paced Startup World

Alice Trout

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As the startup world continues to thrive and grow, it’s important to recognize that the fast-paced, high-stress environment can take a toll on the mental health of founders and employees. In fact, research has shown that entrepreneurs are at a higher risk for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression compared to the general population.

One key factor that contributes to this risk is the pressure to succeed and the fear of failure that can come with starting and running a business. Additionally, the long hours and lack of work-life balance that are often associated with the startup world can also contribute to mental health challenges.

It’s essential that startups prioritize the mental health of their founders and employees, not only for the well-being of the individual, but also for the overall success of the business. Research has shown that mental health issues can negatively impact productivity and decision-making, which can have serious consequences for a company.

There are a few steps that startups can take to support the mental health of their team members:

  1. Encourage open communication and create a safe space for employees to talk about their mental health concerns.
  2. Offer resources such as counseling and mental health benefits to employees.
  3. Foster a culture of self-care by promoting healthy habits such as regular exercise and proper nutrition.
  4. Set boundaries and encourage work-life balance to prevent burnout.

For those not ready to go to the doctor or looking for support, mental health startups Europe offer help through apps.

It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s crucial that startups prioritize the well-being of their founders and employees. By taking steps to support the mental health of their team, startups can create a positive and healthy work environment that leads to success for both the business and its employees.

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