A Journalism Apprentice’s Top Story Goes National Within Weeks After Securing Apprenticeship with The Northern Echo

A JOURNALISM apprentice with a passion for cycling has found herself in the saddle after her tireless efforts to find a job resulted in a role with a digital media group.

And within weeks of securing an apprenticeship with The Northern Echo, delivered by Darlington College, Phoebe Abruzzese found a top story which went national.

The 22-year-old former Bradford Grammar School student now covers North Durham and Durham city, where she read psychology at the university.

Just weeks after starting she revealed the chronic shortage of housing available in Durham and the fact that students were queueing down the street to secure accommodation, a story that was picked up by national newspapers, radio and TV.

“I broke the student story and it turned into something absolutely massive,” said Phoebe, who now lives in Durham, is half Italian and originally from near Skipton.

“I decided to pursue journalism after writing for the university paper, which is a really strong publication. I tried for a year to get a job in the industry and sent off hundreds of applications. I tried the nationals, then the regionals and was even thinking of a PhD, then the Echo came up with an opportunity at the last minute.

“I have friends on the nationals who don’t have as much fun as I do and don’t have the freedom to come up with such good stories.

“I realise now that it’s the regionals who set the news agenda and we have found loads of great stories that have been followed up nationally.”

Phoebe spends four days a week working for the Echo and a day studying for her National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) Level 5 diploma, which will give her an official grounding in shorthand, essential journalism, media law, public affairs and digital and video journalism.

She then plans to take her NCTJ Level 7 Senior Journalist Apprenticeship, the equivalent of a master’s degree with the NQJ qualification at its core.

“The apprenticeship is a great mix because the Darlington College lecturers and the senior staff at the Echo are so supportive,” she said. “I can go to both for guidance and then apply what I’ve learned at college to the job.”

When she completes Level 7 she will be recognised as a senior journalist by the NCTJ and be in a position to go for senior roles around the world.

“I am learning to speak Italian and Dutch,” she said. “My boyfriend is a good cyclist and is trying to get into a British team. He’s got me into the sport as a spectator and I’m a big fan of the Dutch team Jumbo-Visma. I’d love one day to write about cycling or work in Europe for the Brussels Times or the Italian title Leggo.

“I feel so privileged to have found and secured a place in such a cool career as journalism. It feels like the world is my oyster.”

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