NCTJ Student Council Meeting 2016

On February 5th 2016 it was the annual NCTJ Student Council meeting. This year it was held at GoogleUK’s headquarters in Saint Giles, London. The event was a chance to allow student representatives from each of the organisations accredited courses to discuss aspects of the training scheme, meet professionals from the industry and talk to fellow reps from universities around the UK.

Steven Peach, who is the student representative for the Master of Arts Journalism programme, attended the event on behalf of the course and the university and told us about his day.

In October 2015 I was elected to represent the MA Journalism course on behalf of the Students’ Union. Having studied my Multimedia Journalism degree at Salford, I received a great amount of help and guidance throughout my three years and, it was for this reason, why I wanted to give something back whilst studying for a fourth year.

After being greeted by Google staff at the vibrantly coloured offices, myself and fellow representatives were guided to the ‘Town Hall’ suite where refreshments were waiting for us, before we took to the seats at our allocated tables.

Kim Fletcher, Chairman of the NCTJ, got the meeting under way at 10.30am and welcomed all representatives from each of the 80 accredited courses. Matt Cooke, Google News Lab lead for UK, Ireland and Nordics, welcomed all members to their offices and suite before a question and answer session began.

Chaired by Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ, the session allowed representatives to ask questions to Amanda Bell – principal examiner, John Cary – head of accreditation, Sam Goodacre – quality and assessment manager and Lyn Jones – head of qualifications.

The main consensus of questions which were asked included shorthand, the payment of examinations and the syllabus. Having sat with my group, it was now our chance to work as a team to answer three questions. These included; what was good about the NCTJ, what could be better, and how the diploma could be improved.

After a good discussion on our table, we had raised a number of points. It was at this moment when we learnt how a spokesperson had to be nominated to present the conclusions to the forum. As a sudden silence fell, I asked if anyone was keen to present our answers, before putting myself forward to go on stage and talk about our findings. Once all of the tables had presented their answers, feedback was given to a number of points from the NCTJ personnel.

Simply through putting myself forward, I since learnt that all presenters would be given the chance to attend a board of directors meeting in June – ever the case of good things come from outside of your comfort zone!

The time had reached 12.30pm and we now enjoyed a Google presentation from Matt Cooke. This was a very interesting talk and a lot was learnt, not only about his work within Google, but also clever hints and tips when maximising the resources from the search engine. Matt’s speech lasted for half an hour before it was the lunch interval at 1.00pm.

At 1.45pm it was time for a presentation ceremony held by Charlene White of ITV News. The ceremony highlighted the success of students who had achieved a number of individual awards for the Diploma in Journalism.

Following the awards, representatives had the chance to ask questions to a number of industry professionals. This session was chaired by Andy Cairns, executive editor of Sky Sports News. The panel also included Laura Adams, editorial director of Archant London, Matt Cooke, Google News Lab lead for UK and George Sargent, TV and social media producer for Reuters. Similar to the previous Q&A’s, we learnt a lot from their answers including interview techniques and what employability skills would be needed to stand out.

By 3.30pm, the meeting sadly came to a close and we all began to leave the suite. The day proved to be informative and very enjoyable; but above all I felt proud to represent the University of Salford and was delighted to say I was a student there.

(Article written on behalf of the University of Salford’s Students’ Union).

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