Rohit Kachroo was sponsored by Carlton Television to do a postgraduate course in broadcast journalism at Cardiff University. He was named Young Journalist of the Year at the 2011 Royal Television Society Journalism Awards, and is now Africa Correspondent for ITV News.
What did you get out of your training?
The course gives its students some of the basics, including legal training and shorthand. You also learn the basics of television – telling stories with moving images, writing to pictures, editing and filming.
They also offered an incredible and inspiring line-up of guest speakers, including Alistair Campbell.
The course had an emphasis on making students feel like journalism is an exciting profession.
How to make the most of it?
Inevitably, the best experience is gained in the real world, not inside a lecture hall. The most valuable lessons that I learned while at Cardiff were in real-life newsrooms.
We were all regularly dispatched to local television and radio stations.
Would you have done anything different?
Had I been paying for the course myself, I’m not convinced that I would have done things in exactly the same way.
Most post-graduate journalism courses cost several thousand pounds. It’s a huge outlay to make, particularly when many news organisations are shrinking rather than growing their workforces, and so there are far fewer opportunities for newcomers to journalism.
It is, however, a useful test of your passion for journalism: are you willing to spend thousands of pounds to pursue a career in this field, or would you rather do a job that may be better paid but, perhaps, less fulfilling?
Graduation from a highly-regarded journalism course seemed to provide a valuable seal of approval in the eyes of some of the editors that I dealt with in those first few months.
It helped to get a foot in the door, or at least a toe. But it was only part of what they were looking for.
How did you find a job afterwards?
I had the luxury of an assured six-month contract with Central TV as part of my sponsorship. But all that did was delay the worry and anxiety by 26 weeks, rather than eradicate it.
I was lucky enough to get a staff job there, eventually.
But despite the frequent warnings, I was surprised to see how few jobs there were out there, and how many people seemed to be competing for every vacant position.
How well did your training prepare you for your career?
I still hear the tutors’ voices when in the field compiling reports for ITV News: I often recall their buzz phrases about letting pictures breathe, or I suddenly find myself thinking about one of the instructions that they would bark at us about brevity and clarity.
I’ve heard many editors and producers complain that most people graduating from these courses think they know far more than they do.
It felt like an excellent grounding, but I found that you don’t leave a training course as a fully-fledged journalist. It is one of those professions where a week doing it for real is worth months in the classroom.