It’s all about the buzz- training to be a journalist in the digital age

By Jon Cronshaw, bursary recipient 2012/13

For the past month, the Leeds Trinity University postgraduate journalism trainees have been running a fully functioning newsroom.

Each week we have been producing a hyper-local newspaper, Leeds Northern, which covers the Horsforth, Rawdon, Otley and Yeadon areas north of the city. We also produce a weekly magazine, Yorkshire Voice, which has features, reviews and opinion pieces relating to Yorkshire.

Each week one of the team acts as editor. We have had to write stories and features, source images, sub-edit and proof each other’s work, and lay it out in Quark. This is alongside our NCTJ exam commitments, and my own role as acting arts correspondent at the Yorkshire Post.

There’s an incredible buzz in the newsroom, and although I am training to be a magazine journalist, we have been encouraged to write for each of the publications. It was such an amazing feeling when I got the splash for the first issue of Leeds Northern and the cover feature for Yorkshire Voice.

I’ve interviewed artists, councillors, aristocrats, playwrights and even a drag queen wrestler. I’ve learnt how to make text come alive on a page. And I am starting to be known on my patch as an aspiring culture journalist.

The watchword for our content is online first. As well as putting together a print magazine and newspaper, we have a regularly updated news website http://leedsnorthern.wordpress.com, as well as social media and SEO to manage.

We have also been encouraged to embrace multimedia content. I was initially quite sceptic about this – I saw myself as a journalist, not a broadcaster. But now I have become quite passionate about the importance of supporting content to add further dimensions to my writing.

During our training we’ve had talks from a wide range of online journalists from established organisation including the BBC and the New Statesman, to a blogger who is carving his own niche in the digital world – Documentally.

I’ve been writing constantly for over a decade, and the course has helped to hone and sharpen my existing skills. But when I look back at how I used to curate content on my website, I can see how much I’ve moved on.

In fact, I never used to think of blogging as curating content at all – for me it was a case of writing huge chunks of text with long cumulative sentences and throwing in an image at a push.

Now my website http://www.joncronshaw.co.uk features stand-firsts, embedded audio and video, short paragraphs, and links to other websites. I’ve even learnt how to use Twitter properly, which for someone who went into this as something of a social media hermit, has been an eye opener.

Of course the one thing that is always emphasised is that the best kind of social networking is the kind that you do face-to-face. The words of advice I have received over the past few months from established journalists have been invaluable.

Follow: @Jon_Cronshaw