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KM Media Group celebrates successes as part of National Apprenticeship Week

For seven years the KM Group has been giving young people the chance to begin a career in journalism without the need to go to university. Current editorial apprentice Megan Carr spoke to previous learners to find out more.

Gravesend and Dartford Messengers
Gravesend and Dartford Messengers

So what exactly is an apprentice? By giving people hands-on experience, it's the training of a new generation of professionals with on-the-job tuition and often some accompanying study, otherwise known as earning while you're learning.

Rebecca Tuffin, 22, has been with the company for the last 18 months.

Initially based at the Maidstone office, she has had experience with KMTV, KentOnline and the What's On leisure section.

With only six months left of her apprenticeship, she said: "It's a very interesting job, you get to write about such a wide range of things and I can't think of other jobs where the subject matter you're dealing with is so vast from light-hearted things to major crimes and court.

"I went to uni for a year to study psychology, but I left because I thought it was a lot of money for something I wasn’t sure about.

"Hopefully after the apprenticeship I'll get to stay on as a trainee reporter. I've got a lot of experience, probably more than if I studied journalism at uni.

"We get to try TV and different types of writing and I think I'm going to be pretty prepared for becoming a full-time reporter."

Reporter Ellis Stephenson has been with the company for five years. After completing his GCSEs in 2015, he decided that as a more hands-on learner, A-levels and university were not for him.

Now a 21-year-old reporter at the Sheerness Times Guardian, he said: "I'd already written some articles in the community paper and I was familiar with the Kent Messenger.

"Luckily, I got the two-year apprenticeship and completed it in 2017. I found it really interesting, and it's so important to do something you love.

Ellis Stephenson
Ellis Stephenson

"At the time, the apprenticeship offered a college placement once a week and it was really beneficial with the practical experience becoming invaluable."

Josie Hannett is currently a broadcast journalist at BBC South East but started her career six years ago at the Kentish Express in Ashford.

Turning 24 this week, she decided she wanted to skip university after taking chemistry, biology and maths for her A-levels. She became the KM Group's first editorial apprentice.

She said: "I always wanted to do something in TV and radio and uni just didn't offer me what I wanted. I actually found the apprentice opportunity in the Kent Messenger paper, and luckily I got the job and it was just perfect for me.

"As soon as I started I was working on front pages and learning about issues people cared about in the area and learning from reporters that had 20-plus years of experience.

Josie Hannett
Josie Hannett

"After spending a year as an apprentice, I was able to get a trainee position at KentOnline and then experience opportunities at KMFM.

"It was this that confirmed to me that I really enjoyed broadcasting and in 2016 I became a senior broadcast journalist with KMTV."

For the following two years, Josie worked on a music show, as well as making packages of videos and interviews for breaking news stories.

She added: "I left the KM Group in 2018 and began working for Sky News.

"During this time I worked on international stories such as the terror attacks in New Zealand and the issues between Trump and Kim Jong-un.

"Although it was very exciting it just confirmed to me that I prefer local news, so in 2019 I became a broadcast journalist for BBC South East, working on news programmes and having full control over the weekend's production and running orders."

Editorial director Ian Carter
Editorial director Ian Carter

The company's editorial director Ian Carter said: "We have been delighted with our apprenticeship scheme, which we see as an essential route into the industry.

"For employers, I would say apprenticeships are a great way to develop committed and enthusiastic employees who will stand your company in good stead for the future."

Dan Wright, 25, is a perfect example of the success an apprenticeship can bring in just a few short years.

Now news editor at the Kentish Express in Ashford, Dan began his career with the KM at 18 after doing work experience with the company during sixth form.

He said: “I knew I wanted to get into journalism, but I didn’t want to go down the costly university route and I knew I wanted to go straight into work.

"Had I not taken the apprentice route, I would likely be looking to sit my senior reporter exams some time around now and hoping to find a reporter role.

"But thanks to the apprenticeship, I became a senior reporter aged 21 - something that would not have been possible if I had gone to university.

"A few years later, I felt confident enough to apply for and subsequently take the Kentish Express news editor position in May 2018 and have been looking after the paper ever since.

"I am delighted the KM has been involved with the NCTJ scheme since the start.

"Long may it continue."

Joe Wright, 21, was also an apprentice a few years later and is now a senior reporter at the Canterbury office.

He said: "I never really thought of university because of the costs and I was lucky enough to get a job with the KM after sixth form.

"After my apprenticeship I became a trainee reporter for Whitstable and my previous training was really beneficial for where I am today."

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