ITV Scheme: From Trainee To Journalist

ITV trainee 1

ITV Tyne Tees journalist Katie Oakes films musician Example backstage at a gig in Newcastle

Katie Oakes describes how earning a place on the ITV news trainee scheme helped her launch a career in journalism…

Looking around the Tyne Tees newsroom as I write this, I can see five former trainees (including myself) working as production journalists, reporters, correspondents or news editors.

I may be slightly biased, but the ITV traineeship is one of the best ways of getting into TV journalism – and staying here.

When I applied for the scheme, I was working for a weekly newspaper on Merseyside, and had no broadcast experience at all.

I’d never been in a broadcast newsroom and, although it was always something I’d considered, I had been focused on print. However, I knew I wanted to be a journalist in whatever form I could, so I took all the opportunities that came along.

The ITV assessment day is, as you would imagine, nerve-wracking and challenging. But remember, if you get to that stage, you’re in the top 30 out of about 800 applicants – so go in with a bit of confidence!

The best advice I got was to be myself from the outset. You’re there for a full day so by the end of it, they will have worked out what you’re like anyway!

Essentially they’re looking for someone who’s passionate about news, has good news judgement, and who also has an opinion about the stories of the day. You also need to communicate well and have a few story ideas up your sleeve.

Oh – and if they point a camera at you, smile. I can guarantee the picture will come back to haunt you!

During the scheme, I spent a few months based at Granada in Manchester, learning how to produce bulletins and edit, before moving to Tyne Tees in Gateshead, where the focus turned towards reporting. That involved training courses in editing, writing, producing, reporting and self-shooting at almost every ITV newsroom in the country.

We also had placements at Westminster, ITN and a week at Daybreak, experiencing what it was like to work every shift over a 24-hour period. Exhausting.

A highlight from ITN was definitely Alastair Stewart introducing a package I had done for ITV London on the lunchtime news – I never thought that would happen within ten months of joining ITV!

But that’s one of the best things about the scheme – the speed that you pick up new skills and the responsibility you’re allowed to take on from an early stage.

It’s as fast-paced as it sounds, and there’s an awful lot to learn – especially if you’re starting from scratch.

But the huge advantage is learning from some of the best journalists in the country. And you’re never in a training centre, but in the middle of busy, working newsrooms.

You’ll build up contacts across the country, so there’s always someone to ask if you get stuck, and from what I’ve found, people are more than happy to help.

At the end of the traineeship, I applied for, and got, a production journalist job at Tyne Tees, based in Gateshead.

I now produce the bulletins across the day and weekends for both Tyne Tees and Border, as well as running the website.

I also report on a regular basis, both on stories I have brought in myself, and on-the-day news.

The traineeship prepares you really well not only for the job you’ll hopefully get when you finish the scheme, but also the job you hope to do in the future, whether that’s reporting, news editing or producing the programme.

Katie Oakes is an ITV news journalist based at ITV Tyne Tees. You can follow her on Twitter, @katieoakes

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