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By Moir's Wig
Membership Days
#289420
There are numerous posters on here who obviously know a great deal about (and have extensive experience in) journalism. May I pick your brains if this applies to you?

After 40 years as a (male) nurse, I'm going to retire in May at the age of 58 and hope to go to university to study 'Journalism and Practical Media'. This is a two year Foundation Degree which would also give me accreditation with the NCTJ.

I've always wanted to pursue this career from leaving school, but I'm afraid working class boys from my neck of the woods had to get out and get a job to bring money into the family, so it never happened. Until now of course - I never expected it would happen, especially so late in life and after becoming a grandfather.

Anyway, my aim is to get into freelance work focusing on health issues (inspired by the bilge that appears in the pages of The Daily Mail, whose health correspondents appear to be unable to decipher even the most basic research reports). I'm also a sports fanatic, and especially like cycling & rugby (both codes) so hope to maybe do a little of that too.

I don't need to earn a huge amount - it would be basically to top up my pension, so I'd be happy if I could make £700 a month once qualified & with a bit of experience. I know it will be a little strange studying alongside others who are young enough to be my grandchildren, but I'm sure I'll cope. Getting by on £300/month for a couple of years will also be a challenge for me and my wife, but I'm hoping to do some nursing agency work to supplement the student maintenance loan.

So, do you journo types have any advice at this early stage? All contributions welcomed and gratefully received.

Or am I tilting at windmills here? Be straight, be brutal, be honest!

Many thanks folks. :)
 
By Timbo
Membership Days Posts
#289422
A friend of mine did the NCTJ course recently, it's very comprehensive and quite tough. You need to be able to do shorthand above a certain speed, for example. You're also expected to learn about stuff like the detailed structure of local and national government, corporate law etc.

I'm not suggesting by any means that any of it is above you, but you should certainly be aware that it's very much a 'Jack of all trades, master of none' style of training, with a great deal of tedium involved.

That said (speaking as a journalistic layman) your end result sounds realistic and potentially useful. You should, however, anticipate being ordered into writing sensationalist crap, or having your work carved beyond recognition by sub-editors into expressing bizarre views that you do not hold.
#289424
Moir's Wig wrote:I don't need to earn a huge amount - it would be basically to top up my pension, so I'd be happy if I could make £700 a month once qualified & with a bit of experience.

You might struggle on this front. I think my starting wage (albeit in 2005) as a full time hack was £10,500, which included having to work plenty of 60-70 hour weeks.

Of course, there's some opportunities, but most journos starting out have to do plenty of free work. Sports writing is very, very competitive to get into, for obvious reasons.
#289427
Abernathy wrote:Sorry, DC, but what are the obvious reasons?

I'm perhaps just projecting my reasons for wanting to write about football. Namely, I love the game and wanted to be involved: seeing games, interviewing players etc. I would guess a lot of others feel the same, although with different sports.

I suppose there's also the chance you'll get to travel too, if you get one of the top gigs in mainstream media.
#289434
I can give you the benefit of my limited experience from a related field - as a freelance copy editor who dabbles in a bit of copy writing when the opportunity comes up (and that's not often), it is still a lot of time down to luck - right contacts, right place right time and so on. You'll need to be aware that you'll come up against closed doors and will get more dead ends than job leads. You'll also probably need to do a fair bit of gratis work to get a portfolio. And you may need to be flexible and do related jobs to keep things ticking over (for example, when I first went freelance I did some godawful database tidying jobs).

That said, I admire anyone having a crack at doing what they want to, so best of luck (I've just spent £250 getting my first children's book illustrated and have self-published it. I probably won't ever break even, let alone make a profit, but I wanted to do it for myself and mainly my daughter and I have, and that's the main thing).
By Squeaker
Membership Days Posts
#289441
crabcakes_windermere wrote:I can give you the benefit of my limited experience from a related field - as a freelance copy editor who dabbles in a bit of copy writing when the opportunity comes up (and that's not often), it is still a lot of time down to luck - right contacts, right place right time and so on. You'll need to be aware that you'll come up against closed doors and will get more dead ends than job leads. You'll also probably need to do a fair bit of gratis work to get a portfolio. And you may need to be flexible and do related jobs to keep things ticking over (for example, when I first went freelance I did some godawful database tidying jobs).

That said, I admire anyone having a crack at doing what they want to, so best of luck (I've just spent £250 getting my first children's book illustrated and have self-published it. I probably won't ever break even, let alone make a profit, but I wanted to do it for myself and mainly my daughter and I have, and that's the main thing).



What's the book about and where can I buy one Crabcakes? Mailwatchers across the country could request it from their local library service too, that could help.

Have a Dogmatix.

Image
#289785
Book ordered, Crabs. That'll be a happy, monkey-obsessed grandson.
I hadn't realised that this was print on demand - so no print runs to fund, no overprints, in fact the same process as when I get Apple to print my photo albums and calendars. A truly excellent idea. Good luck with the venture.
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