Local newspaper week – which ends today – is an annual initiative to highlight the important role played by local papers in communities across the UK.
Organised by the local newspaper industry and the Newspaper Society, the theme this year is ‘making a difference.’
Local newspapers – in print, online and on mobile – are reaching bigger audiences than ever before, demonstrating local news and information remains highly valued.
And more young people than ever before are signing up to train to become journalists and Make a Difference in the future.
The National Council for the Training of Journalists sets the industry standard for qualifications.
Sheffield College has a long-established reputation for the success of its NCTJ Diploma courses for reporters and photographers and is the only institution in the country offering the NCTJ Diploma for Photojournalism or Press Photography.
Photojournalism student Harry Whitehead says: “Photojournalism can help enhance or support a news story, often summarising events into a single image.
“Perhaps most importantly, press photography presents unbiased evidence, which can give news credibility.
“To capture the images seen in your paper, and journalistic publications around the world, takes thousands of dedicated and highly competitive press photographers.
“This competitiveness means it can be a difficult field to break into for those wishing to enter the industry.
“This unique NCTJ Diploma course, taught at Sheffield College’s Norton campus, provides key education and training in core skills for photographers – photographic knowledge, photographic practice, media law, news writing and caption writing.
“Students are also given the opportunity to meet with professionals and the chance to gain invaluable work experience whilst getting their work published.
“The course’s alumni boasts some of the nation’s most successful photographers, including Gerry’s Dan Kitwood, former The Times picture editor Paul Sanders and agency photographer Jon Mills, to name just a few.
“Those who successfully gain their diploma also become eligible for a further qualification, the National Certificate Examination [NCE] for Press Photographers or Photojournalists.”
Liam Norcliffe and Sophie Wills both completed the NCTJ Diploma in journalism in March and went straight into jobs at The Star’s sister title, the Worksop Guardian
Liam says: “The importance of a qualification such as the NCTJ course at Norton College can be summed up in one story from my short time as a journalist at the Worksop Guardian.
“Just three weeks into my job I was reporting on a double murder in the town, the first of its kind for more than ten years I have been told.
“Within two hours of the story breaking, I had used shorthand to take down details from police and residents, produced two articles and two videos for our website and Tweeted updates, while also using my knowledge of law reporting.
“These were all areas that were covered on the course so it was pleasing to be able to transfer the methods from the classroom to the streets of the real world.
“Without being NCTJ qualified, I would have been unaware of what I could and could not report and I would have been wasting precious minutes listening back to quotes on a voice recorder.
“It was a real eye-opener to the world of journalism and will stick with me forever as I battled against reporters from the Daily Mail, BBC and ITV. I was fully prepared because of the course.
“The NCTJ qualification is a must for any aspiring newspaper journalist and one which mean editors will take you seriously.”
Sophie says: “I fell in love with journalism during a random stint of work experience at the York Press while studying literature at York St. John University.
“As soon as I returned to Sheffield I began searching for journalism courses and was pointed in the direction of the NCTJ Fast Track course at the Sheffield College while I was interning at a local magazine.
“Being slightly in debt from my time at university, it took me a while to save up the fees but I’m so glad I persevered.
“The NCTJ course was intense and probably the most challenging phase of my academic life – suddenly I was studying media law and politics in depth, and undergoing hours of shorthand practice a day.
“However, the skills I acquired have proven invaluable.
“My lecturer encouraged me to do as much work experience as possible during my studies and put me in touch with a newspaper she used to work for called the Worksop Guardian.
“Being outside of Sheffield, it was a fair way for me to travel but I was keen to seize any opportunity I could.
“After my course ended I was taken on as a paid reporter on a freelance contract and working here is a pleasure.
“It’s fast-paced, challenging and a great feeling when members of the community come to you with their stories. Every day is different.
“I would always encourage journalism students to seek work experience further afield if necessary, despite having to travel a fair distance- you never know where it might lead.”