Broadcasting: 'You need to have a good story sense and an interest in other people's lives'

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The Independent Online

What are the entry requirements for this course?

Undergraduate courses may specify A-level grades, with differences between England and Scotland, for instance; the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) website links you to course websites to check individual requirements.

There are also different kinds of courses, such as foundation degrees. You must be clear about your aim in broadcasting, and research the content and delivery of courses to ensure that the one you choose will provide what you need to achieve your ambitions.

Who applies?

This goes to the heart of probably the greatest challenge facing UK journalism. The short answer in the past has been white, middle-class people. Nowadays, most of the industry is investing time, effort and money to make future newsrooms far more representative, both socially and ethnically.

You need to be literate, numerate and computer savvy, with communication skills. Good grammar and spelling is essential, as well as a questioning mind, patience and understanding, a good story sense, an interest in other people's lives and general knowledge. And while there are jobs that don't require a good broadcasting voice, it helps!

What does the course involve?

All accredited courses deliver essential skills and knowledge, highly practice-based, with many workshop sessions in studios equipped to industry standards, where you produce radio and television bulletins and programmes.

Theory-based subjects like media law, ethics, industry regulation and public affairs will be taught in lecture rooms, but applied to real-life stories and situations. HE-based courses offer around three teaching days a week with student-based learning for the remainder.

Getting a start in journalism by working for your student newspaper or radio station, getting any kind of work experience or creating your own website will look impressive on your CV.

Accredited courses guarantee at least one work placement, though placements in television are more difficult to arrange than radio, and students should note that HM Revenue & Customs now insist that placements longer than four weeks must be paid minimum wage rates.

How would I be assessed?

Through formal examinations in knowledge-based areas, but most assessment will be of hands-on skills and the quality of programmes that students produce. This is judged against professional standards of writing, presenting, audio and video recording and editing, originality, production and treatment of stories, and quality of ideas. You will also have a personal tutor assigned to monitor your progress.

How long does it last?

Most HE courses range from 30 to 35 weeks: from September to December and from January to June, with an Easter break.

Others can be 12 highly concentrated weeks, or allow a student to progress at their own pace, sometimes - because they offer a full MA - for almost a year. There is also the option to study broadcast journalism as a three-year course at various institutions; check out the Ucas website for more information.

Are there opportunities available for further study?

Progression is certainly possible, though not always necessary. Postgraduate degrees will either be an Masters or will offer progression from a postgraduate diploma to an Masters.

What are the career options once the course is completed?

Most courses prepare students for entry into the industry, typically a reporter role for the BBC or commercial radio, a news desk assistant for the BBC or commercial television, or traineeships with BBC or ITV news.

The impact of internet development on the industry means that employers may now be looking for multi-skilled recruits: applicants who have the skills and knowledge to operate in radio, television, online and on a range of digital- or web-based platforms.

Jim Latham, secretary of the Broadcast Journalism Training Council, www.bjtc.org.uk

Katy Fawcett, 23, is studying a postgraduate diploma in bi-media journalism at Trinity and All Saints College in Leeds

"I completed an undergraduate course in English language and literature at Sheffield University. I realised I really wanted a career where I was constantly learning, being creative, meeting people and presenting.

The course is primarily vocational. You are taught the practical skills of broadcasting - including filming, recording, editing, production and presenting - as well as journalism writing skills, law, public affairs and shorthand.

My ideal career is as a television reporter, which I hope to achieve through an ITV traineeship. We are posted to regional stations to learn every aspect of news journalism."

Ayo Bakare, 24, works as a researcher for 'Newsround' on the BBC

"Following on from my undergraduate course I understood that I was entering a very competitive market. I felt going on to do my Masters in broadcast journalism would enhance my employment prospects - it turned out to be the right move. The week I handed my completed dissertation in I was offered the job at Newsround as a researcher to start the following week.

My job involves working closely with producers to arrange shoots and coverage of stories that are either forward-planning items or pieces that need working up on the day. For me, the biggest challenge was understanding that web coverage of news is just as important as television and radio news."

WEB WATCH

Ucas

Find out where you can study for a broadcasting degree

www.ucas.com

ITV

Discover what sort of career you could aim for

www.itvjobs.com

'Newsround'

Find out more about recent graduate Ayo Bakare's place of work

http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews

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