1st Edition

Essential Journalism The NCTJ Guide for Trainee Journalists

By Jonathan Baker Copyright 2021
    466 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    466 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is a practical guide to all aspects of modern journalism for anyone seeking to study for the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) Diploma in Journalism and become a qualified journalist in the UK.

    Written in collaboration with the NCTJ, Essential Journalism outlines everything you need to know about the journalism industry today, from its ethical framework to its practice across print, television, radio, online and social media. It looks at the core principles and the skills that are required of journalists across all platforms, helping students develop an overall understanding of the business and examining the application and adaptation of traditional best practice to the demands of the digital age. This is a unique one-stop shop for anyone who wants to understand the nature and purpose of journalism, and how it is changing and evolving in today’s digital newsrooms.

    This book is a core resource for journalism trainees and undergraduates, as well as for seasoned practitioners and lecturers.


    By Alex Crawford, Patron of the National Council for the Training of Journalists.




    1 The journalism landscape

    2 The nature of journalism: The nature of news.

    3: You, the reporter

    4 Ethics

    5 Regulation


    6 Storyfinding: The general reporter

    7 Storyfinding: Sources

    8 Storyfinding: Interviewing

    9 Storytelling: Anatomy of a news story

    10 Storytelling: Writing a news story

    11 Storytelling: Language and style

    12 Storytelling: Reporting numbers and statistics


    13 The digital journalist: the digital scene and writing for the website

    14 The digital journalist: social media and online research

    15 The radio journalist: the radio scene and writing for radio

    16 The radio journalist: news summaries and radio reporting

    17 The television journalist: the television scene and picture gathering

    18 The television journalist: continuous news and television reporting

    19 The print journalist

    20 The mobile journalist: The freelance journalist


    21 The feature writer

    22 The court reporter

    23 The political reporter

    24 The specialist reporter

    This book summarised in two pages

    Further reading



    Jonathan Baker is an award-winning journalist and journalism teacher. His first foray into journalism was during a gap year spent on the Ashbourne News Telegraph in Derbyshire. He joined the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo as a graduate trainee and passed his NCTJ Proficiency Test there before joining BBC Radio in London. He held senior positions in BBC radio, television and multimedia newsgathering. He was variously Executive Editor of the Radio Newsroom, Executive Editor of Radio 5 Live News Programmes, Editor BBC of the One o’Clock and Six o’Clock Television News, Editor of the BBC Ten o’Clock News, and World News Editor. For four years he was Head of the College of Journalism, responsible for the training of the BBC’s 8,000 journalists. His last role at the BBC was Head of Newsgathering. He was appointed Founding Professor of Journalism at the University of Essex, where he devised and delivered an NCTJ-accredited undergraduate course in multimedia journalism. He is a winner of the NCTJ Chairman’s Award for outstanding contribution to high standards of journalism training.

    "Today's journalists need to be flexible, adaptable and multiskilled, while respecting the core values that underpin the best journalism.  This book is about applying time-honoured principles in a digital age - and as such, should be required reading for established professionals, as well as those taking their first steps in journalism." - Francesca Unsworth, Director of News and Current Affairs, BBC

    "From the outset, readers of this exceptionally relevant textbook are given a compelling insight into the changing industry they are preparing for. Such knowledge is invaluable for thriving in today's - and tomorrow's - newsroom.  This a guide packed with expert knowledge and highly practical advice, which should grace the bookshelves - digital or real world - of any journalist." - Alison Gow, President of the Society of Editors and Audience and Content Director North West, Reach plc.

    "The need for properly trained journalists delivering trusted news has never been greater. While the media landscape is more complex than ever, the core skills needed remain the same. Anyone seeking a career in the industry should read this book to gain a better understanding of journalism in its many forms and the vital role it continues to play in our society." - Martin Wright, Editor in Chief, Midland News Association