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The EU and Union Flags divided. Image by Webmaster VoluntaristDK licenced by Creative Commons

Covering an election is an exciting time for journalists.

For Brighton Journalist Works NCTJ students the chance to work with Brighton’s daily newspaper, The Argus, on its coverage of the EU Referendum was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

A trio of students covered the EU debate by tweeting and videoing it for the Argus live blog.

University of Sussex MA student James Aldridge focused on filming segments and general live tweeting.

He said: “With my filming I hoped to capture the drama and passionate quotes in the debate, which at times got very heated.

“My phone’s memory is quite small, so if I have to cover an event like that again I will make sure I have equipment that is fully up to the task.”

One of the key elements James remembered from his course was getting people’s details before quoting or videoing.

Working on the event helped him with his personal video project titled 18-25 Year Olds and the EU Referendum.

He added: “The debate allowed me to interview major Leave campaigners Daniel Hannan and Rory Broomfield.

“I was somewhat lacking Leave figures beforehand so talking with them was a great help in that respect.

“Seeing politicians in the flesh and conversing with them is always an interesting experience. I got a good deal of enjoyment out of that.”

NCTJ Fast Track diploma student Ginny Sanderson covered the Brexit side of the debate, focusing on MEP Mr Hannan and Better Off Out director Rory Broomfield.

She said: “I tweeted their best sound bites, which was a challenge as the debate moved on very quickly.

“It was a lively debate with the audience getting very spirited.

“It was a fantastic learning experience. I had never done a full-on live blog before. The debate lasted over an hour, so it was a really full-on tweet session.
“It felt great to be really involved in such an important political debate and to interact with members of the public and get their views on the referendum.”

“My favourite part was sitting in the midst of all the action and recording it unfold around me.”
Fellow NCTJ student Ben Perkins covered the Remain side at the debate held at the Clarendon Centre in Hove.
He tweeted comments by Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas and Hove MP Peter Kyle.

 The count

Attending a count after the referendum on June 23 was both an exciting and draining experience.
Part-time student Jennifer Logan followed proceedings in Hastings for The Argus live blog.
She wanted to be part of history by covering such a major event.
Jennifer said: “As I was extremely nervous before going – I did not realise the adrenalin I would feel when reporting.
“I loved the multi tasking of tweeting, taking photos and videos as well as completing interviews with people.
“I realised I was able to do this and act like a journalist.
“I also received great support and direction from people there and achieved what I was there to do.
“I guess I realised I was more than capable of covering the event on my own.”


In Chichester, Calum Rutter sat through three recounts, even though the Leave campaign secured its biggest margin of victory in the county with 62.5 per cent of the vote.
It made for a long night as he did not get home until 10am and had an exam in the afternoon.
However, he recognised the experience was a one-off.
He said: “This was (probably) a once-in-a-lifetime referendum and the chance to be involved in reporting it was exciting.
“I am particularly interested in hard, political news and it can be difficult for a trainee to cover this kind of story outside of writing on a personal blog. This was a great opportunity.”
Calum Rutter's article in the June 25 edition of The Argus

Calum Rutter’s article in the June 25 edition of The Argus

Interviewing campaigners also gave him the chance to practise his shorthand at speed.
He added: “This was the first time my shorthand had been fast enough to take down long quotes ― some interviewees will not wait for you to catch up ― so it was useful to practise identifying the best quotes to extract, Nobody rambles like activists.”
MA student Taraneh Fathalian covered the vote in Wealden, where turnout was 80 per cent.

Sussex was split between both sides of the argument. Brighton and Hove, Mid Sussex, Horsham and Lewes voted to remain in the EU, while Rother, Eastbourne, Adur, Arun, Worthing, Wealden, Crawley and Chichester went with the national trend to leave.

Whatever happens next it is an exciting time to be a journalist as every day brings a new angle to the ongoing story.

For students at Brighton Journalist Works, the strong links with media outlets such as The Argus offer them great opportunities to gain real experience of a major news story.


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