NCTJ Spells…Novices Climb Trees to Juggle (hippos)

Which, if you are doing the distance learning course, is what you should have more productively been doing than stressing over the next-to-nothing, depth-less, course material provided.  I am not going to harp on and on about the hippos, or indeed the NCTJ.  I shall sneakily wait until I have gotten through the exams before I start bashing the hell out of a course that has so flippantly left me dangling at the end of its non-existent string for a year. 

The point in this post is to catalogue the end of my first attempt at the NCTJ Newswriting Exam.

I purchased this course almost a year ago to the day.  I have spent a lot of time not really understanding where the news writing learning comes from.  You read the book ‘Essential Reporting’, you read the ‘how to write births, marriages, deaths’, you practice writing from a press release but when do you learn how to actually write?  You don’t.  You can’t.  Journalism is practical.  Anyone wanting to be a journalist must realise at some stage you are going to ditch the books and have to write stories.  It didn’t really ring true to me until I did some work experience.  Where worrying about doing it right, getting it perfect and your upside down triangles disappears like a fart in the wind. 

Dean Murray

Fantabulous Illustration Copyright of Dean Murray, click to visit his unique illustrations.

                                                                 Dean Murray  

But enough of weak gas similes and back to The Exam.  Pinged as the hardest of the NCTJ Preliminary Exams and prepared not a jot I really didn’t know what to expect.  In fact I wouldn’t have been able to answer the fourth out of four questions had well known youtube hit, Mr Cleland Thom not popped into my living room…on youtube of course.  In fact I had so little direction I thought it was a written exam and was somewhat put out when told to log on to the computer in front of me.  Perhaps I should have twigged earlier but it is a minor detail that could be clearly laid out in an exam information pack, but naturally is not.  Keep ‘em Guessing should be the NCTJ’s motto.

So I stumbled lost and confused across Glasgow Caledonian University campus, cursing the students, wishing I was one, to a nice lady who led me shaking and quivering into a computer room.  I protesteth.  She shrugged.  I sateth and shut upeth.

2 hours gone.  Answer printed.  Exam completed. 

Back to the fart bus.  En route climb a few trees, juggle a few hippos.

P.S. I had to share – in typing ‘flying hippo’ into google to get an image a photograph of Anton Du Beke and Ann Widecombe came up…