Five journalist apprentices are celebrating after being awarded Distinctions by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) after completing their apprenticeships.

Highbury journalism students Emily, Oliver and Sam profile photos

Jody Doherty-Cove, Eleanor Shipton, Emily Liddell, Sam Hatherley, Oliver Young started their apprenticeships together in September 2019 and have now achieved an Apprenticeship Standard for a Junior Journalist.

Emily Liddell, who completed her apprenticeship at the Southern Daily Echo, Southampton, said: “I was shocked when I had the phone call to let me know I had passed with a Distinction, and almost brought to tears when I held my certificate in my hands. It’s easily one of the proudest moments of my life.

“Adapting to a new way of learning was hard, but both Highbury and the Daily Echo helped me manage my time. Highbury College were very supportive while I was completing my studies. My teachers were always happy to help if there was something I was struggling with.”

The 21-year-old recommended taking on an apprenticeship, adding: “A part I loved about it was that I was given my independence. I was able to attend breaking news on my own, and I was also able to cover some court cases and inquests, as well as being sent to huge events in the city where I would run a live blog for our website. If I ever had an idea for a story, I’d be allowed to run with it and the team would help point me in all the right directions.

Over the course of their apprenticeship, the cohort worked at their separate newspapers four days a week and were taught together at Highbury Campus, Cosham once a week.

Sam Hatherley, who worked at the Hampshire Chronicle in Winchester, said: “I've worked with some cracking people who have taught me the tricks of the trade. Working between weekly and daily papers has exposed me to some of the most skilled journalists out there, and I couldn't have achieved what I have without my colleagues.

“If you're like me and want to get your foot in the door, go down the apprenticeship route. Being thrown in the deep end is by far the best way to learn."

He also had some advice for those thinking about a career in journalism, saying: “Give it your all. Listen and follow in the footsteps of those experienced journalists. Build a contacts book and make sure everyone in the community knows who you are and how to get hold of you. And most of all have fun. There aren't many jobs out there that are different every day.”

In the classroom, journalist apprentices study the relevant theoretical NCTJ modules in essential journalism, media law, court reporting, shorthand, video journalism for online platforms and shorthand.

Oliver Young began his apprenticeship at automotive publication & PR services Blackball Media. The 19-year-old did not let the coronavirus deter him from finishing his apprenticeship on his own when the pandemic meant the media company could not employ him full time after his contract came to an end in June 2020.

Of earning his Distinction, he said: “I’m over the moon with my result. After a lot of time and hard work, an achievement such as this comes as amazing news. I feel proud to display it on my CV and I’m excited about what it can do for my future.

“I enjoyed learning and improving through on-the-job experience and feedback, so being able to do this while also benefitting from a college education is ideal. My lecturers at Highbury were extremely supportive, kind and helpful. My employer was a great help to me during the majority of my apprenticeship, supporting my growth and improvement as a journalist. I’m still on good terms with them.”

Course Leader Darren Sadler puts the success down to hard work in all areas: “It’s fantastic to see such high level of achievement continuing at Highbury. For over 50 years the College has excelled at delivering first-class training to its reporters... long may it continue!

“They demonstrated their abilities in high pressure roles – and the teaching staff have ensured potential has been reached.”

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(Images below left to right: Emily Liddell, Sam Hatherley and Oliver Young)

Article Details

  • Date 23/04/2021