Joanne Butcher is Chief Executive of the National Council for the Training of Journalists

International Women's Day 2017 - Joanne Butcher

We're celebrating International Women's Day with just a few of our great alumnae. Joanne Butcher talks to us about life in the media industry.

Joanne Butcher (History, 1987) is the Chief Executive of the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), the main training and qualifications body for the media industry in the UK.

Prior to this she was Director of the Periodicals Training Council (PTC) and Chief Executive of the Publishing National Training Organisation.

Following her degree, Joanne moved to London to start a career in the media industry, securing a job in the marketing department of the Newspaper Society. A ‘dream start’ for someone interested in the news business.

She says: “After a sheltered childhood in rural Herefordshire and three years in provincial Exeter, I was keen to live and work in the heart of London. I’d always been interested in politics and loved the news so an opportunity to work in the news media business really appealed to me.”

After several roles at the Newspaper Society, Joanne took on a new job at the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA) and later moved on to set-up the Publishing National Training Organisation before joining the NCTJ in 2003.

The media industry has been highlighted in the past as being a predominantly white, middle-class profession, but that has been changing in recent years as additional effort has gone into making newsrooms more representative of the overall population.

“When I started my career the newspaper business was a male-dominated industry, particularly in management, and I’ve come across some chauvinistic attitudes and behaviour.” says Joanne.

“It’s very different now. There is an equal gender split in journalism and some fantastic female role models running media businesses and organisations. However, I still think it is a challenge for women to get to the top and to balance work and family commitments – it’s such an all-consuming business!”

At the NCTJ, Joanne leads a team of people who develop journalism qualifications, provide media training, and administer exams. As well as working closely with the industry, the organisation also works with universities and colleges around the Country who deliver the qualifications.

“I love the variety, the speed of change and all the challenges as well as the rewards of developing the National Council for the Training of Journalists.” says Joanne.

“The media is in the midst of a digital revolution that demands innovation and new ways of working and nothing can stand still. The real joy of this job is that it brings me into contact with so many different people who believe in good journalism and want to work with us – from those who will be the next generation of journalists to those who are at the end of their careers and want to give back to something they feel passionately about.”

In her role at the NCTJ Joanne has to not just lead her own team, but also drive forward plans with senior leaders from around the media industry, and inspire education establishments to get behind the NCTJ’s vision.

She says: “I think it’s important to lead by example and you have to enjoy managing change; the best leaders win over hearts and minds and can galvanise support to get great results. Be true to yourself, never compromise on high standards and always do your best under any circumstance.

“My advice to young alumnae would be to concentrate on proving yourself by doing a great job and choosing your career moves carefully so you work with people you can learn from and who will inspire you.”

Joanne looks back on her time at Exeter with great fondness and says that ‘after the initial shock of being away from home’, her experiences on campus and the transferable skills she gained, helped to prepare her for the world of work.

“I read History and it was a wonderful subject to study. Despite being an academic subject rather than vocational, it develops a broad skillset that gives you many career options and opportunities. Interacting at university with so many intelligent people from all walks of life was great preparation for my media career.

“Studying a subject I loved, being introduced to brilliant historians and meeting new friends was wonderful at the start, but so too was graduating and celebrating success with my contemporaries before we all left to begin the next chapters of our lives. Happy days!”

Date: 22 February 2017

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