The groundswell of interest from both news and communications organisations marks a recognition that formal media training is a growing requirement to avoid litigious pitfalls associated with self publishing on website, internal publications and social media.
Media groups are also recognising the value of the 18 month apprenticeships during which trainees learn the technicalities of multimedia journalism, media law, public affairs and shorthand on day release in the classroom to put into practise in the newsroom.
The new apprenticeship scheme, which is attracting to Darlington College recruits from across the North-East and North West of England and Scotland, includes the NCTJ level 3 diploma in journalism and is part of a national initiative.
As well as appealing to traditional media groups, the initiative is open to any organisations with communications teams whose staff could benefit from media training.
Curriculum manager for arts, media and publishing Alan Jones said: “Technology has completely transformed the world of media with so many people now able to self publish. While this is an incredible opportunity to be lauded it does come with risks around contempt of court and libel.
“Our media training not only opens up opportunities to those seeking rewarding careers in journalism but also staff in corporate communications teams and people who blog or are prolific on social media.”
For head of communications at Make It York Kay Hyde returning to college to study is providing the opportunity to hone her writing skills and knowledge of media law.
“I was interested in studying and thinking about taking an MA,” said Kay, 54. “But I have also always been fascinated by journalism and thought this would be really useful in my career.
“The media and our own ability to self-publish means we need to provide readymade content and having a working knowledge of media law is very important, particularly when writing blogs and for social media.”
Paige McDermott is one of two apprentices taken on by The Northern Echo. The 21-year-old, of South Shields, studied English literature and creative writing at Chester and has enjoyed writing since she was a child.
“I have my own blog reviewing books and albums and am really interested in animal and environmental issues,” said Paige, who has moved to Darlington.
“I am really enjoying the practical element of the apprenticeship and am appreciating the benefits of studying media law as I have already been to magistrates and crown court.”
Also joining The Northern Echo is Georgia Banks, 19, of Durham. She said: “I am really enjoying the multi-media and mobile aspects of the course and the job. I enjoy shooting video and editing, which is now part of a local reporter’s role.”
Joe Richardson, 22, has joined the sports desk of the York Press after graduating in foreign languages from Newcastle University. Fluent in French and Spanish, he edited the university’s multilingual magazine and launched an on-line version.
He said: “I’m really enjoying the grassroots sport and finding good stories among the non-league, school fixtures and contributed copy sent to the Press.”
For Lucy Starkie becoming an apprentice with Cumbrian Newspapers offers her the chance to turn to a life of crime.
“I’m fascinated by crime and am looking forward to covering it in the community and at court,” said the 27-year-old, of Whitehaven.
“I always wanted to be a journalist and am really enjoying studying one day at college and also learning on the job.”
At Newsquest’s Bradford Telegraph and Argus Eleanor Clayton and Saira Ahmed have joined the editorial sports and news team as apprentices while Honour Hanson is Harvey and Hugo’s new apprentice.
Jade McElwee is studying for the NCTJ Diploma qualification and has secured a placement with the Gazette, Middlesbrough.
The 22-year-old, of Ingleby Barwick, studied English at university but was looking for more hands-on training.
The group is made up of other students accessing the diploma and single units.
Anyone individuals or companies interested in media training and the apprenticeship schemes should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.