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Essential Reporting

Essential Reporting
The NCTJ Guide for Trainee Journalists

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September 2007 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This is a book for everyone who wants to be a journalist: a practical guide to all you need to know, learn, and do to succeed as a trainee reporter in today's newsroom.

Although the world of journalism is changing fast, as technology blurs the boundaries between newspapers, radio, television and web-based media, the reporter's core role remains the same: to recognize news, communicate with people, gather information, and create accurate, balanced, and readable stories.

Essential Reporting, written by an experienced NCTJ examiner, explains how to do this. Contents include:

  • What makes a good reporter
  • What is news, and how to find it
  • How newsrooms work
  • Day-to-day life as a reporter
  • Key reporting tasks
  • Covering courts and councils
  • Successful interviewing
  • Writing news stories
  • Specialist reporting
  • Handling sound, pictures and the web

It also contains a wealth of advice, tips and warnings from working journalists, a guide to NCTJ training and examinations, a glossary and a guide to further reading.

It will be invaluable to anyone embarking on a career in journalism and is the NCTJ's recommended introductory text for all students on college and university courses preparing them to become successful reporters.

What you Need
Character, Attitude, Knowledge, Skills, Equipment

What's News?
What News Stories Have in Common - and Why Some Get Printed

Finding Out
News and Information Sources

A Day in the Life
What it's Like Being a Reporter

First Tasks
Handouts, Calls, Weddings, Anniversaries, Retirements, Deaths

Out and About
Public events, Speeches, Meetings, Press conferences, Pictures

Talking to People
Vox pops, Ring-rounds, Surveys, Interviews, Death knocks

The Unexpected
Major incidents, Weather stories, Human interest

Shaping the Story
Story length, Structure, Angles, Intros

Writing the Words
News stories, Writing for pictures, Presentation

English Matters
Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling, Style

Working Online
Reporting, Writing, Designing, Interacting

Audio and Video
Multi-media, Audio & Radio, Video & TV

Court Reporting
Courts, Inquests, Tribunals, Inquiries

Local Politics
Contacts, Councils, Town halls, Political parties, MPs, Elections

Specialist Areas
Sport, Crime, Education, Environment, Health, Industry, District reporting

News backgrounders, Entertainment features, Reviews

A guide to the NCTJ


'Precisely what it says on the cover - a down-to-earth essential handbook for anyone embarking on a career in journalism. All you need to know about avoiding newsroom minefields and attracting the editor's attention for the right reasons. If only it had been around in my day!' - Bob Satchwell, Executive Director, Society of Editors

'... an excellent practical guide to the whole business of reporting.' - Writing Magazine

This book talks you through everything you need to know to be a good journalist, it is what you would expect from the NCTJ and no one can fail as a journalist if they follow the NCTJ

Miss Rachael Rodgers
Digital media , Doncaster College
January 10, 2014

Mixing factual information with witty anecdote, and designed in a very accessible way, this book painstakingly covers all corners of local reporting which, as we know, is the best training you can get.

Ms Louise Byrne
Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, Richmond, The American Int'l University in London
October 26, 2012

The text in general covers the basic skills in news reporting but was set as an essential text for our MA in Multimedia Journalism students because this is NCTJ-accredited. Otherwise, I'd like to have a text with a more intellectual approach to news research and writing.

Dr An Nguyen
School of Media, Film and Music, Sussex University
December 16, 2011

The book is very relevant to the objectives of the course. It also covers the essential topics in News Writing. It is user-friendly and has a lot of activities for students. A definite YES for my students.

Ms Bevelyn Dube
communication and applied language studies, University of Venda
February 11, 2010

Sample Materials & Chapters

Introduction PDF

Jon Smith

Joanne Butcher

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781412947510