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Posted On: July 20, 2016

Luke Warren works as a sub-editor at, after an award-nominated reporting career at the Crawley News

Luke Warren works as a sub-editor at, after an award-nominated reporting career at the Crawley News

Luke Warren works as a sub-editor at, after an award-nominated reporting career at the Crawley News

Brighton Journalist Works will equip you with the skills you need to get as far as your desire will take you in journalism. Without the NCTJ you’re nowhere; with it you’ll go as far as you want to go,” says alumnus Luke Warren.

He shares his experiences applying the skills he developed on his diploma course to his career in journalism.

Where have you worked since finishing your NCTJ at Brighton Journalist Works?

A month after finishing at BJW I started as a reporter at the Crawley News, where I worked for two years.

Here I was highly commended in the Weekly Print Journalist of the year category at the EDF Energy London and South of England Media Awards 2014, earned my National Qualification in Journalism, and won the in-house Angriest Reporter of the Year award in 2014, after a heated interview with the West Sussex County Council cabinet member for highways.

In September 2015, I joined as sub-editor, where I currently work, subbing a weekly email sent to more than 10 million people and a website viewed by around 15 million people a month.

MoneySavingExpert's Martin Lewis at the UK Social Investment Awards

MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis at the UK Social Investment Awards Image from the Cabinet Office on Flickr, licenced by Creative Commons

Describe your average day?

Quite simply I sub all day – working on copy ranging from news stories, money-saving guides and information on individual products, such as credit cards, to Martin Lewis’s blog.

Each has its own format and slight variation in style. It’s my job to ensure that everything across the site is consistent, accurate and can be easily understood.

Most of the time I work in the program Dreamweaver, using the internet language HTML, so I’ve learned to code and one day hope to do so like a wizard (which is a technical term).

I start work at 10am (helpful given my commute into London; MSE Towers is just off Oxford Street) and finish at 6pm, though sometimes work later when required (for example if a news story is written late in the day and needs to subbed before being put live).

Tuesday is our press day, so our busiest and longest (we usually work till 7/8pm).

The weekly email, called Martin’s Money Tips, is sent out in batches that evening and on Wednesday morning.

The email has a style all of its own, different to that of the site itself, and I sub its component parts across the day.

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you while working on a story?

One of the most unexpected, but not exactly strange, things to happen was sometimes being invited into people’s homes when out door-knocking in Crawley when I was a reporter.

If there’d been an incident on a particular street in the town I’d often be sent there to find out more, being the only reporter at the time who lived in Crawley, so I’d head off from home to do a door-knock before going into the office in Redhill.

It didn’t happen often, but moments after knocking on someone’s door to ask if, for example, they knew anything about a man being beaten over the head on their road, they would invite me into their homes for a cup of tea and a chat, not knowing me from Adam.

Another unusual thing to happen was having someone phone me up and try to intimidate me after a court case.

It was the friend of the defendant, a bodybuilder and former Mr Britain, who’d been convicted of assaulting his girlfriend.

The friend told me that the “boys down the gym [the bodybuilder’s friends] weren’t happy with me”.

I stood my metaphorical ground (easy to do over the phone; I’m not sure if I’d have been so bold if it’d had happened in person) and basically told him he didn’t know what he was talking about, that I’d reported what was said in open court, and that was that.

What are your favourite stories you have worked on?

The most involving story surrounded a murder committed in Crawley in January 2014.

I was sent to the scene, near an industrial estate, the day afterwards to speak to people at businesses there.

I followed the case from then to arrests being made, and the main suspect, Daniel Palmer, appearing in magistrates’ court and later at Lewes Crown Court.

Here the story of the evening of the murder unravelled and Palmer, who gave evidence a matter of feet away from me, was eventually convicted.

I’m also proud of the stories that earned me the award short-listing: three front-page exclusives in a row.

These were about the fact West Sussex County Council spent far more repairing potholes in Chichester (where it’s based) than in Crawley, despite more potholes being reported in the latter; an interview with the first gay couple to marry in West Sussex (who did so in Crawley) following the change to the law; and a report on a supply teacher who described her pupils as “feral” on her Twitter feed.

I also enjoyed reporting on stories in Crawley whose foundations stretched right back to war-torn Syria – including those about Abdul Waheed Majeed, who became the first British suicide bomber in Syria, and Kaiser Khan, who went to Syria on a humanitarian mission but claimed he had been held by Isis fighters alongside Alan Henning, later beheaded.

Mr Khan, a Muslim, was released and returned to the UK, where he was arrested on suspicion of being involved in “conflict overseas”. Later he was told he would face no further action.

What work are you particularly proud of?

VW Camper Vans, image by Richard Croft, licenced by Creative Commons

VW Camper Vans, image by Richard Croft, licenced by Creative Commons

I’m particularly proud of a five-part travel article I had published in VW Bus magazine.

The confidence to pitch this I gained from BJW. This series was of articles was based on my travels in a VW camper van with my girlfriend around Europe and Morocco for eight months in 2011.

I’ve also had another travel piece, based on an ill-fated motorbike trip I took to France in 2015, published and shortlisted in a travel-writing competition in Bike magazine.

A winner has yet to be chosen. The bike blew up in France and is still there to this day.

What is your happiest memory at BJW?

The whole experience was a happy one: each module I found extremely interesting, and the tutors and my fellow students were great.

What skills did you learn at BJW that you still use today?
I still use shorthand, for note taking rather than taking down quotes, as I don’t really interview anyone as a sub.

Everything I learned at BJW is relevant in some way, whether that’s applying what I learned in media law and production journalism when subbing, or passing on what I learned in news writing when taking an editorial workshop and training colleagues.

What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?

Do the NCTJ diploma. Read and write as much as you can. Work hard.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Believe in yourself.

Be confident, but not arrogant. Have a sense of humour, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Luke studied for his gold-standard NCTJ diploma on the January 2013 fast-track course at Brighton Journalist Works.

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