At just 18, Jasmin Martin recently decided to undertake an NCTJ course with Brighton Journalist Works, and passed all of her exams first-time round. However, the real success story is that she has now landed a job with Johnston Press, working as a templater based at the West Sussex County Times in Horsham. It was the first job interview she’d ever gone for, and is delighted, especially considering the difficulty that many would-be journalists are having trying to get into the industry currently, or for more seasoned pros to even stay in it.
With layoffs, cutbacks, decreasing circulations and an air of uncertainty hanging over the newspaper industry at present, Martin’s story is one of the few successes you get to read about. Indeed, while she was studying for the course and taking her NCTJ exams with Brighton Journalist Works, journalists from The Argus were outside the building striking over what they perceived to be an unfair pay structure. From the outset, she is aware of the problems facing the industry, and the risks involved in going straight into the industry at a young age: “I feel really lucky actually. Choosing not to go to uni and going straight on to what I wanted as a career was risky but it all worked out. Some people don’t believe me when I say I have a job in journalism (probably because I look 10 years old!). Going to work isn’t a chore and at least I’m getting the experience now to get even further in life.”
As Martin commences her new career in a constantly evolving industry, she will be one of the faces who will shape the future of print journalism. And with the growth of online content weighing heavily on publishers’ shoulders, new methods and ways of reaching out to audiences will be fundamental in surviving.
Pay walls are one option for papers with decreasing circulations (such as The Times), as more and more people are gaining access to news through smart phones, computers, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. However, with the continuous reproduction of stories across the net, a publication would have to be able to offer something unique to the subscriber to ensure loyalty. On the other hand, papers can also raise more money with pay walls through advertising, as companies will pay more to have access to a regular, dedicated market.
It seems as though print journalism will have to move with the times if it is to survive, although there is something to be said for producing a physical product of a certain quality, rather than dealing purely in web pages. Martin believes that while more people will begin to use the internet as the primary way of receiving their news, it’ll be a dynamic relationship between publisher and reader: “I do think technology will continue to grow and many people rely on the internet for news. It’s so easy to access rather than going to a shop and buying a paper. The majority of the younger generations will be used to just using their iPads and kindles as tools for reading. It’s a tricky one; I think print newspapers may become less popular but I don’t think they’ll completely disappear. And journalism will just have to move with the times and make money from the internet.”
So, what will this mean for the likes of Martin, who has been employed to craft the pages for physical consumption? While the traditional newspaper page may be a thing of the past by the time Martin has a fully-fledged career, it is undeniable that the skills inherent in templating and sub-editing – an eye for detail, a knowledge of how to appeal to people, and the desire for accuracy and transparency – are invaluable skills for any journalist beginning their journey. Martin says: “The job right now is more than i could ask for, I’m getting paid to do something I’ve always wanted to. I’ve got years ahead of me yet so I’ll see where this takes me but at the moment I’m over the moon with getting this templater job, especially as it was the first and only place I applied for. I really appreciate them giving me this opportunity and letting me gain the experience considering my age.”
Whenever and however journalists and papers adapt to the desires of audiences, one thing for certain is that the new breed will have to be flexible. Martin says: “Before I got the subbing job I thought I’d be more likely to go down the reporting route, but after doing it for a couple of weeks I’m loving it and would love to better myself in subbing. But by the time I’m 20 who knows I could be running the joint!” With a promising start to her career, it’d take a brave person to doubt the 18-year-old.