NCTJ Student Council: The future of journalism is in our hands

By Nadya Ahmed, bursary recipient 2012/13

“The future of journalism is in your hands.” With such a bold opening statement by NCTJ Chairman, Kim Fletcher, on Friday morning, it became clear why the NCTJ wanted us, the student council, to ensure they were providing us with the best range of opportunities, skills and qualifications possible.

Arriving at the MSN headquarters as a representative of my fellow Newspaper Journalism students at Nottingham Trent University was daunting. It is the most expensive building Microsoft own and is made predominantly of glass so, knowing my clumsy self, I was frightened of breaking anything for a start, but responsibility was also on my shoulders to ensure I gave and received the best feedback I possibly could.

NCTJ Panel

The NCTJ Panel (photo courtesy of Adam Partoon)

Once I’d got over the initial awe of the building work and eased into the surroundings after a refreshment or two, I realised I was surrounded by plenty of like-minded and diverse students from across the country, even the world, all starting out in the industry and all wondering what the day would hold. It was inspirational to hear their own experiences on similar courses, whether fast-track or part-time, diploma or MA.

As the day got into full swing, many questions were asked by students concerning exams and the structure of common modules. It was reassuring that every question was greeted with extensive feedback and, after speaking with everyone on my group table, we all felt confident that the NCTJ were providing us with great standards.

Once it dawned on my table of ten that a group discussion was going to involve not only the good points about the NCTJ but possible improvements for the future, I know many of us began to feel uncomfortable, not sure we wanted to be critical of an institution providing us with our qualifications.

Nominating a speaker (who actually criticised so constructively our table breathed a collective sigh of relief) each of our points were addressed clearly. Our concerns included the amount of exam materials available to centres, inconsistencies between materials provided for centres and the timings of examinations.

These concerns were addressed and the general consensus was that we all felt confident representations would be put to the board and these issues could potentially be turned around for future trainee journalists.

The day came to a close beautifully. Having reached a point in my own course where I felt I needed a bit more of a push for motivation, drowning under what felt like piles of deadlines and monotonous shorthand prep, the inspiration was definitely there. Knowing that those on fast-track courses had got through the rigorous training I was going through in just 14 weeks or that many of the student council felt in the same boat was a huge boost.

The presence of NCTJ alumni and editors also stirred motivation. Any career goal is achievable with persistence and determination and with days such as these, the NCTJ will continue to inspire and reassure their students. All that’s left to do now is impart that experience back to my fellow students at Nottingham Trent.