Wolverhampton College helping students learn importance of proper journalism

In an age when gleaning facts can be difficult, proper journalism matters.

Wolverhampton College students learning their trade
Wolverhampton College students learning their trade

The industry has changed beyond recognition in recent years, with the advent of the internet and the influence of social media.

But the principles of good journalism remain. And without newspapers and websites like the Express & Star and its sister paper the Shropshire Star, important issues would go unreported, crucial decisions unscrutinised.

A new generation of journalists are being trained up at colleges across the country. One of the best performing is on our doorstep, at City of Wolverhampton College.

Recruitment is well underway for its latest course, at a time when journalists are in high demand, according to lecturers.

Applications have opened for the course at City of Wolverhampton College, the only National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) accredited course in the West Midlands and also serving Shropshire and Staffordshire.

It has been the best performing course of its kind in the UK 10 times. Many Star journalists have trained there and course leaders say the industry is crying out for people to qualify.

Lecturer Dani Wozencroft, herself a former Shropshire Star journalist, said: “Good quality journalism is now more important than ever, at a time when disinformation or misinformation is so easily spread and the industry is booming.

“I have never had as many editors calling and messaging me asking for applicants for their vacancies as I do now. The industry has seen so much change in the nine years I have been here and it is a great time to retrain or sign up, if you’ve been thinking about writing as a career.”

The level five NCTJ Diploma in Journalism is the recognised industry qualification for anyone looking to get into journalism. The one-year course at City of Wolverhampton College teaches students about media law, court reporting, ethics, video journalism, public affairs and shorthand – as well as essential journalistic skills like SEO, how to use social media, finding stories, interviewing, writing stories and following up leads.

They also have guest speakers and workshops on journalistic roles in radio, magazine, data and online, TV, sport and other roles in PR and communications.

Applicants need to have GCSE English and maths at grade C/4 or above, have two A levels or an equivalent level 3 qualification and pass an entrance test set by the NCTJ, organised with Dani, who still carries out freelance work in the industry.

“The best thing about our course is not only that it’s quicker and cheaper than a journalism degree, but also that it’s the perfect way into the industry for people from all different backgrounds,” Dani added. “A recent report by the NCTJ revealed 89 per cent of journalists have a degree level or higher qualification, which doesn’t reflect the UK population as a whole.

“Newsrooms need to reflect the communities being reported on so a range of stories can be told, so this needs to start in the classroom.

“We are doing all we can to increase diversity in the newsroom and are big supporters of the Journalism Diversity Fund, suggesting anyone who applies looks into the charity, which can pay course fees for you.”

The current cohort of students on the course at City of Wolverhampton College do not finish until July, but 50 per cent have already been offered jobs in the industry.

Former students include James Forrest, who now freelances for outdoor magazines and has written his own book. He said the course had changed his life and he is living his dream.

Jermaine Lebert, from Birmingham, worked in retail before completing the course and being offered a role at The Guardian after graduating. He said: “On the course you will be given the skills to be able to meet the challenging demands of the changing newsroom and the face of the industry. The course was brilliant – if you are like me and struggled to get into the industry, I would encourage you to apply.”

Other alumni of the course work as Local Democracy Reporters, BBC video journalists, at Sky Sports, BBC radio stations and in PR roles.

Express & Star reporter James Vukmirovic completed the course in 2019.

He said: “I found it to be an excellent tool for helping me to get into the industry I’d always wanted to work in.

“You learn all the intricacies of writing a story, the law behind it, the ethics behind it, how to do a digital story, how to do a print story and how to become a fully-fledged journalist.”

For more information visit the course website to see work from students and visit the college website to apply.

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