Journalists discuss the top stories of 2018 at the NCTJ conference

Report by NCTJ trainee journalists Emma Boys and Ryan Hardie

FOUR industry professionals spoke about the big stories of 2018 and the challenges they face, during the annual NCTJ conference at Harlow College.

Branwen Jeffreys, education editor at BBC, chaired the panel alongside journalists  Alex Marrow, Rebecca Hudson, Stephanie Finnegan and Sarah Whitehead.

Stephanie Finnegan, court reporter for LeedsLive and ExaminerLive, shared her experience when reporting on the Tommy Robinson case earlier this year.


Panel journalists L to R: Branwen Jeffreys, Alex Marrow, Rebecca Hudson, Stephanie Finnegan and Sarah Whitehead.


After a court reporting restriction was placed on the case, Stephanie said: “The whole world was talking about it and I had to look back and watch.”

Stephanie was subjected to online abuse after publishing an address associated with controversial far-right activist Tommy Robinson. Extreme cases of her online abuse included trolls stating that they hoped Stephanie was raped and murdered.

Another panel member Alex Marrow, freelancer for Sky Sports News, spoke about his experiences in Russia covering the 2018 World Cup. He said, “Speaking Russian was crucial for me. Before the tournament there was a lot of negative press, but we focused on fans and learning about the city and it wasn’t as challenging as people thought.”

Other panelists, Rebecca Hudson, of the Salisbury Journal and Sarah Whitehead, deputy head of news gathering at Sky News, also spoke at the conference. They covered issues including the Salisbury Novichok poisoning and the Royal Wedding.

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Ryan Hardie

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