Journalists of the future are right here...

The NCTJ Diploma in Journalism students from Highbury College who are working at The News this year. Back from left, Lola Mayor, Peter Marcus, Imogen Marshall and Sasha Barker with, front from left, Oli Price Ermis Madikopoulos, Shannon Johnson  and Daniel Chalkley  ''Picture: Sarah Standing (151844-454)
The NCTJ Diploma in Journalism students from Highbury College who are working at The News this year. Back from left, Lola Mayor, Peter Marcus, Imogen Marshall and Sasha Barker with, front from left, Oli Price Ermis Madikopoulos, Shannon Johnson and Daniel Chalkley ''Picture: Sarah Standing (151844-454)
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It’s the News-backed course that helps train the journalists of the future.

And now the accreditation of Highbury College’s one-year Diploma in Journalism course, run in partnership with The News, has been extended for two years by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

The favourable verdict was delivered on site at The News by a visiting panel consisting of the NCTJ’s head of accreditation John Cary, deputy managing editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard Will Gore, and senior editor of the BBC’s 24/7 channels and former Highbury student Karen Flynn.

The panel roundly praised the innovative partnership – the first of its kind in the UK – between The News and Highbury College to train the next generation of journalists in the pressured environment of a busy daily newspaper and website.

During their visit, the panellists viewed the dedicated classroom at The News (which features a retractable wall opening into the newsroom) and consulted the Diploma in Journalism students about their learning experiences so far, not least their growing portfolios of published stories across varied sections of the newspaper and online.

Ms Flynn said: ‘It’s an absolutely brilliant partnership. I’m surprised there are not many more applications from aspiring young journalists, especially those from the local area.’

The two-year course accreditation renewal was duly welcomed by the students themselves – and you can meet them on the page opposite and below, where they share their personal backgrounds, interests and expectations for the course.

The panel warned, however, that a condition of the renewal was a marked improvement by the students on the shorthand results of last year’s graduates.

Course leader at Highbury College Dave King said he was confident this would be achieved, and of the continued success of the college’s pioneering partnership with The News.

‘Highbury has a reputation as one of the UK’s leading journalism colleges,’ he said.

‘Over the past 50 years, we have enjoyed a rich tradition of producing top journalists, such as BBC Radio 5 Live’s political editor John Pienaar, ITN newsreader Mark Austin, BBC documentary maker Simon Reeve, and Isabel Hardman, assistant editor of The Spectator..

‘But that was yesterday. Today we are producing tomorrow’s journalists in a fast-changing media world, not just for print, radio or television, but primarily for digital.

‘We’ve got strong relationships with the media industry, and the vast majority of our students go on to jobs.

‘Last year, 85 per cent of our journalism students found jobs in media.

‘Many are looking at journalism training as a launch pad for a second career.

‘We’ve had people in their 30s and 40s sign up because they want to change direction.

‘Plus, with the rise of the citizen journalist where people can set up micro-news websites in the comfort of their own home, we’re equipping those people with core journalism skills too.

‘There has never been a more exciting time to be a journalist.’

Mark Waldron, editor of The News, said the partnership with Highbury College was mutually beneficial.

‘A year’s experience on a busy regional paper like ours is crucial practical experience for the students and will give them the edge when seeking employment,’ he said.

‘By the same token, the industry stands to gain recruits already trained in producing content across platforms, in a rapidly-changing media environment.

‘This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.’

For more info about, and to apply to join, the NCTJ one-year Diploma in Journalism course, visit

For more info about, and to apply to join, the Fast Track course, go to

Meet the students......

Sasha Barker

After getting my A-levels in drama, English language and psychology at South Downs College, I was looking for a worthwhile way to spend my gap year.

I remember hearing about the NCTJ course back when I was 14 when visiting Highbury College for an open evening and it had always been something I had considered doing after finishing A-levels because of my ever-growing interest in media.

Applying for this course was a fairly last-minute decision for me, but so far I have loved every minute of it and haven’t regretted it for a second.

I have always enjoyed writing and I feel it has always been a strength of mine.

I felt this course would be a wonderful opportunity to pursue that interest.

Working at The News has given me valuable experience in seeking stories and getting published.

It has been intense, but I am thoroughly enjoying all aspects of it, including the wonderful team I’m working with.

After the course, I am hoping to go to university to study public relations.

Daniel Chalkley

I am 20 years old and love sport, reading and entertainment. I have a football FA level 1 coaching qualification. I am from Woking, Surrey, but decided to move to Highbury College, Cosham to study journalism and focus mainly on sport, especially football.

I am a mixed race British Caribbean. My parents are from Jamaica and Luton and I have carried on the Luton Town FC supporting in the family. Although it has not been easy supporting Luton, there have been some great seasons I have witnessed. The start of my journalism career has been enlightening and difficult. I have learnt life skills since I have started this course away from home.

Shannon Johnson

I am 19 years old and live in Waterlooville. I completed my A-levels at South Downs College, where I achieved A*, A, B in sociology, English literature and English language.

I want to be a journalist because I love the sense of community and unity that news can bring to people.

‘Growing up, it was clear that English was my strongest and favourite subject at school. My primary school teacher even said that I would make a great journalist when I was older.

I deferred my university place for a year, because I felt unprepared for it. As soon as I found out about the Highbury Course, I knew that was what I wanted to do in my year out. Now, I’m not even sure if I need to go to university, as this course offers so much.

I’ve already made so much progress within a few months. I am gaining knowledge and experience in the newsroom and am building up my portfolio and bylines.

I’m loving every minute so far! Especially my time here at The News; it is surreal seeing my work in the same paper that I have grown up reading.

Ermis Madikopoulos

I am 22 years old and from Winchester. I have a strong passion for music and writing because I like the idea of telling stories and expressing myself through words.

When I was at the University of Portsmouth, I wrote album and gig reviews for the student paper The Galleon. This helped me win awards such as Outstanding Contribution to Arts and Entertainment. I’ve also been writing for the music blog The Indiependent since October 2014. This has allowed me to broaden my horizons and become confident with carrying out interviews which I feel will serve me well in my journalism career. I also have an interest in radio journalism and throughout the NCTJ course I want to take this to another level. I would also like to improve on my shorthand and I would like to work in a newsroom or in the radio industry in the future.


Having completed A-levels in religious studies, history and sociology at Portsmouth College I was undecided how to spend my year off before I go on to study history at university.

Previously studying subjects that require a great deal of written work, I knew I was a competent writer and the idea of journalism appealed to me.

Being naturally inquisitive and having an ambition to travel and meet new people, journalism fits me well as it enables me to widen my contacts and exercise things I love and have a real interest in. This NCTJ course also provides me with skills that can be utilised in my further education and in many career paths, should I choose not to pursue journalism. Skills such as learning shorthand will be so very valuable to me as a student.

Peter Marcus

Journalism offers the opportunity to work as part of a great team and give something to the community by way of letting people know what’s going on in their area.

Having enjoyed writing from an early age, the opportunity to study it was too good to pass up.

I’ve been blogging for three-and-a-half years now and writing for The News while training to be a journalist is giving me the chance to gain invaluable experience.

Apart from writing I am a member of Portsmouth Youth Parliament, the non-partisan organisation speaking up for young people in the city, and a volunteer with the Scouts.

I hope that the experience of working with the team at The News will set me up to work in media and communications for a charity in a few years time, along with the law and public affairs we are learning at the same time.

Imogen Marshall

From a young age I have always had a passion for writing and whilst studying English language at A-level I knew it was something which I wished to turn into a career. Unsure whether or not to go to university, I decided to take a year out to complete this course and go to university afterwards to study English and creative writing, having gained three A-levels in English language, psychology and PE at college. Studying journalism at Highbury has furthered my non-fictional writing skills and has provided me with the opportunity to have a variety of articles published.

I also had the opportunity in the summer of being published for the Worthing Herald, a particular highlight was when I co-wrote on a major story about the Findon murder, a story which gained nationalcoverage. Learning shorthand and building up my portfolio is something which I have thoroughly enjoyed doing and I am gaining invaluable skills in the process.

Outside of education and work I am a dedicated member of two local athletic clubs, in my home town of Worthing and in Brighton and am a member of the county and regional teams.


English has always been my favourite subject and I have always greatly enjoyed writing in all its forms. Initially my interest was focused toward the more creative side of writing, however the NCTJ course has allowed me to explore the aspects of more practical fact-driven writing.

Being local to Portsmouth, it was great hearing that such a course was available, especially one that has such hands on experience available due to its ties to The News.

Since embarking on the course I have gained a much greater understanding of current affairs, especially on the political side of things. I intend to keep this up and am considering making political journalism a potential point of focus. Also the many different aspects of modern journalism intrigue me as it has a far wider scope than I initially imagined. I like the idea of writing for print, however doing a module in Video Journalism has opened my eyes to that format of telling the news and perhaps documentary making, as it has the potential to inform a larger audience than print journalism.