Students get to grips with journalism

The group of students with copies of the Observer
The group of students with copies of the Observer

A GROUP of sixth-form students got to grips with the pressures and pleasures of journalism on a two-day residential course.

The 25-strong team which included students from Sussex Coast College and Parkwood took the course at Villiers Park Educational Trust centre near Cambridge.

It was the latest event in a four-year rolling programme aimed at young people from less advantaged backgrounds in Hastings, helping them fulfil their potential.

The workshop was led by freelance journalist Jerome Monahan and explored everything from interviewing to constructing a news story while also examining current issues affecting the industry, including the Leveson report.

One highlight was an online Skype conversation with Dave King, head of news for Sussex Newspapers, which includes the Observer series. Students quizzed him about some of the biggest challenges he had faced editing newspapers such as covering human tragedies.

Mr King, who is also the chief examiner for sport at the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), was able to outline routes into the profession and the characteristics of successful journalists including curiosity and a desire to communicate.

Jaz Pook, 17, from Parkwood, said: “I had never considered journalism as a career. However, I came away from this course, honestly feeling it is one I could pursue.”

Callum King, 16, from Ore, and who attends Sussex Coast College, said: “I have always been interested in journalism, and this part of the scholars’ programme has encouraged me to pursue this interest even more.”

Rhys Climpson, 16, who attends Bexhill College and also lives in Ore, said: “I read newspapers and try to keep up with the news, but never realised how much work goes into creating the finished product.”

In another exercise, students were able to quiz Villiers Park Educational Trust’s chief executive Richard Gould about the Scholars’ Programme.

He said: “While few of the students have considered journalism as a career, the experiences they had, such as constructing stories, planning and presenting a broadcast news ‘package’ under considerable time pressure, are highly transferable.”