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To ask you about work experience for a Master's in journalism?

(26 Posts)
PamplemousseRouge Sun 02-Apr-17 13:56:39

Hi everyone,

I'd like to apply for a Master's in journalism, and was looking at applying to City University in London as they've got a really good reputation for journalism courses.

At uni, I was originally interested in applying for a Master's in newspaper journalism, but have now been more interested for quite a while in applying for the TV and radio journalism Master's instead.

I've already done a few journalism work experience placements at newspapers and magazines and have done freelancing work as well as student journalism whilst at university.

On the applications webpage for the TV and radio journalism course at City, they suggest that applicants have 'some' journalism work experience before starting the course. However, they don't make it clear about how much work experience to have or what area of journalism this should be in, although I understand that for applicants for the TV and radio course, it shows dedication and commitment if the work experience is related to this type of journalism.

My question is: AIBU to ask you how much work experience I should aim for before applying? I volunteered as a presenter for a hospital radio station last year for a few months, which I really enjoyed, and would like to get involved with this again. I'd also like to find some work experience with a radio station as well, but I'm not sure how much work experience (in terms of how many placements or the length of the placements) I should aim for.

Thanks everyone smile

PamplemousseRouge Sun 02-Apr-17 14:20:23

Bumping smile (sorry for writing such a boring AIBU!!)

Sisinisawa Sun 02-Apr-17 14:34:36

As much as possible.

GnusSitOnCanoes Sun 02-Apr-17 14:41:13

I appreciate this isn't exactly what you asked, but: I would say if your plan is to be a working journalist, you would do far better to learn on the job rather than undertake a Master's. I would always hire a junior journo with solid experience - whether via placements or otherwise - over one with less experience but a Master's. At this stage, you will gain more on the job than you will in the classroom. (I've hired several juniors with postgrad qualifications and despite that, they still all buried their ledes wink)

PamplemousseRouge Sun 02-Apr-17 15:16:58

Thanks Sisi and Gnus.

Gnus that's a really interesting point - thanks. The only reason I am considering the Master's is to improve my chances of having a career in journalism. I am in two minds about the Master's - I feel that it would be very good training for a career in journalism, and it would give me the chance to make contacts within the industry, but it also costs a huge amount of money (just under £10,000 for the tuition fees, and I'd also have to factor in living costs).

I would like to do the Master's because I think it would be a good (but very expensive) way of 'getting my foot in the door ' in journalism. I'm now 25 (just to give some context), and would like to work towards having a proper 'career' soon. I think that a journalism Master's is an opportunity that would lead towards a career in journalism, but it is hugely expensive and not always perhaps the best way to go about getting into journalism.

Would appreciate if anyone has any further advice about getting into journalism smile

ImperialBlether Sun 02-Apr-17 15:19:53

You've just missed out on the deadline, OP, but the BBC offers a trainee journalism job each year (about a dozen or so vacancies) where you train on the job in either/both radio and journalism. Perhaps something to consider for next year? Applications are always in March.


CatherineHate Sun 02-Apr-17 15:24:44

I studied journalism for my Bachelors degree. I agree with others that you don't need to do a Master's to become a journalist.

The best thing is to get some experience and get your NCTjs (if you do go ahead and do your Master's, don't event THINK about attending a uni that doesn't give you the opportunity to qualify during the course - your degree will be practically useless)

piknmixer Sun 02-Apr-17 15:24:56

I was a journalist for nearly ten years. I don't even have a degree - I did my NCTJ qualifications on a training course straight after college and then a level 4 NVQ on the job.

I'd personally be looking for work experience in TV/radio while you look for junior posts to apply to. The experience will count for a lot more than the masters and I'd bet you'd find a job on the back of that.

sarahburneraccount35 Sun 02-Apr-17 15:31:51

A friend of mine did that course and has built a successful career since. One of the benefits is it gives you a great network for the rest of your career. She did a lot of work experience and did shift work in the media alongside the course. On the job experience is the best route to most jobs, including in the "who you know" journalism industry, but this course is well known and hugely respected (and hard to get on!). Good luck!

PamplemousseRouge Sun 02-Apr-17 18:13:45

Thank you so much Imperial, Catherine, pik and sarah!

Doing an NCTJ course alongside work experience is also something that I would be very interested in.

sarah, just to clarify, did your friend do the City MA course or an NCTJ course alongside the work experience?

If anyone else has further suggestions or advice, it would be great to hear from you!

PamplemousseRouge Sun 02-Apr-17 20:26:09

Thanks again everyone for your advice smile

Just bumping this thread with another question, if that's okay.

For anyone who is a journalist or who knows someone working in journalism, how did you you (or the person you know) get into a journalism? Through a Master's qualification or through doing work experience and volunteering/paid work?

Serendipper Sun 02-Apr-17 20:32:45

My husband is a newspaper journo, he completed a masters (with nctj) then applied for anything and everything on "hold the front page"

JaniceBattersby Sun 02-Apr-17 20:41:45

You don't need a masters for entry-level journalism. You just need the NCTJ qualification. I've worked in the regional press (where most journalists start) for 14 years and I've never seen a single candidate hired who hasn't got their NCTJ (or at least have passed most of it. Some fail the shorthand and then repeat it while working)

Work ex is important but we don't take any work ex students unless they are already on an NCTJ course. This is becoming more common in newsrooms now because otherwise it ends up being a bit like babysitting (sorry). That said, if a work experience candidate impresses us then they're pretty likely to be considered for a trainee job when one becomes available (by trainee, I mean someone who has passed their NCTJ'bjt not their proficiency exams which are taken two years after starting out in journalism)

So yes, get work experience but it doesn't mean all that much to people hiring - it's all about the interview and your passion for the job.

JaniceBattersby Sun 02-Apr-17 20:43:58

Yes, and as Serendipper'said, be prepared to apply for anything on HTFP. In fact, start reading it every day now, because pretty much every regional journalist gets up every morning and loos at it straight away.

Also read Press Gazette and your local newspaper. Study what they're doing in the paper and online. It will help in your interviews.

JaniceBattersby Sun 02-Apr-17 20:46:01

And I apologies for my typos. I'm feeding the baby while typing. I'm not really a shit writer grin

CatherineHate Sun 02-Apr-17 20:51:25

Not currently a journalist but friends who were on the same course as me got their NCTJs and applied to every regional paper they could.

We had the advantage that our uni is very well connected and you are pretty much guaranteed at least some interviews if you say you studied there.

Working can be in a set office can be tricky due to course load, but some freelancing may be possible if you're well organised

GeekyWombat Sun 02-Apr-17 20:53:09

A couple of years after finishing my BA, I did an NCTJ course four days a week (at a very low key FE college - cheap fees - I paid £750 for the year for my course, having come close to paying £8k a year for the now defunct London School of Printing course) and worked one day a week on work experience every week for the year with a local paper. A lot of people on my course did the same and when the time came we all got interviews (and a lot of us got jobs) with the papers (or sister papers in their groups). A lot of those are now on nationals having worked up through the local/regional press. Don't let having Greenslade as your lecturer turn your head ;)

City is a great course but is no longer NCTJ accredited so I'd be very wary about signing up for it - every paper I've ever worked at (in the regional press admittedly) has wanted NCTJ qualifications and shorthand.

selsigfach Sun 02-Apr-17 20:53:39

I did an English Lit and Journalism BA but as above, it didn't mean anything without NCTJ accreditation. We were wasting time with lectures on journalism in the 1600s when we should have been learning shorthand. I had work experience with the Beeb, NME and a few local newspapers and got my first paid job with one of these papers while still at university. It was with Trinity Mirror, who had their own NCTJ equivalent training scheme. Lasted a couple of years of earning fuck all, £12k maybe, before moving to comms and getting an instant £10k pay rise. TM treat their staff terribly. Consider your options carefully - please don't throw £10k away on a masters.

pitterpatterrain Sun 02-Apr-17 20:53:47

My friend (now broadcast journalist tv) did a postgraduate diploma in broadcast journalism

Before taking this course she used all her prior work vacation time volunteering / work experience slots, had did a lot of work during uni at radio stations etc

thecraftyfox Sun 02-Apr-17 20:53:52

DH is a regional journalist, part of the Trinity Mirror group. All of the journalists and freelancers either have done the NCTJ course or they have years and years of experience. There might be some digital roles that don't need it but they are not journalists.

SellFridges Sun 02-Apr-17 20:56:27

I have an MA in Broadcast Journalism. Before I applied I had done work experience at pretty much all the local papers and radio stations, as well as working on student radio for 3 years during my undergrad.

I worked as a journalist for less than two years, I actually hated it and all my childhood dreams were smashed as a result. I do work in a field where I use my skills every single day.

SellFridges Sun 02-Apr-17 20:57:36

And actually, there are a lot of successful people from my course - many on TV and national radio daily. It just didn't suit me and the pay was fucking awful

sarahburneraccount35 Sun 02-Apr-17 22:39:55

Pamplemousse I spoke to my friend to check. She did the City MA. Others are right that City doesn't do NCTJ any more and this can be a problem for local and regional newspapers but apparently wasn't an issue at national papers, broadcasters or websites. Hope that helps!

everybodysang Mon 03-Apr-17 09:16:13

Agree you should just do NCTJ. Have you looked at the fast track course at Harlow (if that still exists)?

Get as much experience as you can but be aware that with changes in paying interns etc it's harder than it used to be - we're quite generous to interns/work experience people but I found it quite easy (over a decade ago) to get experience here and there as I had loads of part time jobs to support me while I did that pre-qualification - I think it would be lots harder now.

And start practising your shorthand.

everybodysang Mon 03-Apr-17 09:18:20

Actually if you want to do broadcast etc then shorthand probably not relevant - and only one person in my office (I'm a magazine editor) has shorthand apart from me but I use it all the time and find it so useful.

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