Founding Director & Editor-In-Chief

February 20, 2024 (Updated )

The ITV News Traineeship 2024 is currently open for applications until 23.59pm on Sunday, February 25. But before you put keystrokes to computer, our guide is here to help give yourself the best chance of success.

We’ve spoken to a range of successful applicants and insiders, who’ve been exactly where you are now, to gather their insights and tips on everything from the application form to interviews — and what to expect if you do snag the job.

The Scheme

The ITV Academy News Traineeship, now in its 19th year, is one of the most established and practical trainee schemes for those looking to break into broadcast journalism. You’ll join one of the ITV newsrooms in the regions, nations, the Channel Islands or the network in London immediately, where you’ll work as a trainee journalist and receive dedicated support and training.

It’s a nine-month programme, typically starting in early October and, for the 2024 cohort, you’ll be paid £27–29,000pa, depending on how where in the country you are based impacts your contracted pro-rata salary (e.g. as with most jobs, Londoners will be subsidised for the higher cost of living). You’ll also get all the standard benefits ITV employees enjoy, such as five weeks’ holiday and public holidays (again pro-rated for the length of the contract).

In 2024, there are 12 places on offer.

Where Could You Be Based?

You’ll be asked to submit preferences for which newsroom you’d like to be based in as part of the application form — don’t worry, you can include more than one! You’ll need to choose from:

• ITV Anglia in Norwich;
• ITV Central in Birmingham;
• ITV Granada in Salford;
• ITV Meridian in Whiteley (near Southampton);
• ITV Tyne Tees & Border in Gateshead (near Newcastle);
• ITV West Country in Bristol;
• ITV Yorkshire in Leeds;
• ITV Cymru Wales in Cardiff;
• UTV in Belfast;
• Network newsroom in London;
• ITV Channel in St Helier, Jersey.

It’s worth considering which areas you’re passionate about — you don’t necessarily have to have been based there before, but is there an area you feel a connection with? You may also want to consider which areas may be the most popular for applicants, such as London.

For Lauren White, who joined the scheme in 2022, applying seemed like an obvious choice. She tells Journo Resources: “I think for me, because I’d always wanted to be a journalist, it was one of the most obvious routes in. I didn’t know anyone or have any sort of connections that could have got me in in a different way, other than a scheme like this.”

“I think the training scheme [appealed] especially because it’s regional news — I was able to get a job in my own region, the North East. It’s not really a plentiful market for journalism jobs, so the idea that I could end up getting a job where I’m from and the place that I care about the most was why I was attracted to the scheme, definitely.”

While the scheme doesn’t guarantee a job at the end of the nine months, many former trainees go on to secure permanent roles across ITV’s regional, national, and international news teams — including all of our interviewees for this piece. This includes roles both in front of and behind the camera, as well as across ITV more widely. You’ll also get the opportunity to produce your own 30-minute programme at the end of the scheme.

Charanapreet Khaira, who now works as a political correspondent for ITV Calendar, says the traineeship was instrumental in helping her to get her current job. “I think the traineeship really provides you with all the building blocks that you need to be a good journalist,” she explains in a video interview for ITV.

“Before I started the traineeship I hadn’t actually studied journalism. I learnt all sorts of things from scriptwriting to getting to grips with the law around journalism, and even talking and being in front of camera. I feel like those building blocks are essential no matter what job you’re doing in journalism.”

Simran Johal, who now works for ITV Granada, also tells Journo Resources the scheme has been “incredible”. “It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done. Without it, there’s not a single chance I’d be where I am in terms of my career. There’s never a question people in the newsroom won’t answer and everybody is so supportive of you.”

What Qualifications Do I Need?

The traineeship is open to anyone who will be 18 at the time the scheme begins. For this year, that’s September 30, 2024.

Other than that, the only qualifications required are a GCSE (or equivalent) in English Language at a Level 4/C grade and a passion for journalism and news output, which you’ll be able to talk about in your application.

To be clear — there’s no need to have a degree and applications from both school leavers and career changers are welcomed. The team are also particularly keen to hear from those from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups, disabled people, and those from lower socio-economic groups, as these are groups currently underrepresented in the industry.

Speaking about her cohort, Lauren stresses: “Everyone had a different background. It was totally unique — so don’t talk yourself out of it.”

Journo Resources
“It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done. Without it, there’s not a single chance I’d be where I am in terms of my career. There’s never a question people in the newsroom won’t answer and everybody is so supportive of you.”
Simran Johal, ITV Granada

The Application Form

The first stage of the process is an application form, which must be submitted online. However, it’s worth stressing that the team is committed to supporting any reasonable adjustments you may need — you can find the contact email on the main job listing page.

The form will ask you a variety of questions, covering you and your experiences, your knowledge of journalism and ITV, as well as any ideas you may have. It also includes a few practical exercises. As Ciara Cohen-Ennis, now a producer and director at ITV Wales, sums up: “It’s not the kind of thing you want to just bash out in one night.”

She continues: “Give yourself time, so you can come back to it, and I would get people to read it as well — maybe if you’ve got a uni lecturer or a friend. Give a lot of relevant detail to the questions; if you’ve got a word count for the answer, write up until the word count, really fill in the detail and give specific examples.”

Journo Resources
Journo Resources

Ciara Cohen-Ennis (L) and Megan Samrai (R)

Your Experience

As you’d expect, the form places a big emphasis on your experience — the job description stresses you should be “committed to a career in journalism, either through writing, work experience, academic choices, or [your] career so far”.

However, it’s important not to be overwhelmed by this, says Megan Samrai, who joined the scheme in 2022. She recalls thinking “that I didn’t have a good chance at the time” because she often found herself comparing experiences to peers’ LinkedIn profiles. “I had to really learn to sell myself from the experiences I had,” she explains — and she got the job.

Across the interviewees we talked with, this included things like writing for volunteer-run publications, involvement in community radio, student media, or their own blogs, doing social media for a university society, and much more.

Crucially, stresses Ciara, it’s about what you’ve done, not the name of the outlet you’ve done it for. “The traineeship is literally an entry-level job, they’re not expecting the finished article. You’re not going to be expected to have published stuff in big organisations.” Instead, she advises focusing on original, community-led journalism in your experiences.

Journalism Questions

The application form also asks a series of practical questions that look at broadcast regulations, media law, and ethics. This isn’t a timed exercise though — if you’ve given yourself time to complete the application, you’ll also have time to research your answers.

“You don’t have to score top points on every question to get through, but you do have to know some points [around things like] media law,” explains Ciara. “You could always Google basic media law and just have a read through,” she advises, “or just borrow a library textbook and just familiarise yourself with some of the pitfalls to look out for. It’ll just be useful for you to have that little basic understanding.”


Video Clips

You’ll also be asked to submit a short video clip of yourself, talking about why you’d like to join the traineeship and talk about some of your experiences. In total, you have 120 seconds to answer two questions — any longer and your video may be discounted.

The key here is what you say — the team isn’t judging you on your presentation skills, or how the footage is filmed and edited. “I remember I was sitting in my little flat when I was at uni,” laughs Lauren.

“It’s just about why you want to be on this scheme, so I just took that and ran with it. They just want to see what you’re like. It sounds really embarrassing, but you know when the Love Island-ers talk about how they did a video to get on? They kind of trying to see what you’re like as a person, they want to know your personality.”

“Just be yourself,” she continues, “and be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is a huge thing — I remember getting feedback and being told: ‘You were really enthusiastic’. If you come in happy and full of beans you come across as eager, which is what they want.

Activities & Your Ideas

Finally, you’ll also be asked to complete a few short activities and share some of your ideas. This involves writing a script from a press release, giving feedback on one of their programmes, and sharing some ideas you may have for stories.

But Raheem Rashid, who now works as a reporter and presenter for the ITV Content Hub, recommends watching more than one episode as part of your preparations. “Watch a lot of ITV News, make sure you’re watching your regional news programmes,” he tells Journo Resources.

“You’ll want to have watched a couple of 30-minute programmes. It’s available on ITV X, so you can watch different regions — and I’d recommend doing that because you might be interviewed at different regions across the country, so it’s good to have watched a few to see how different regions present different things, script different things — just knowing that difference of what different regions might do.”

When you’re watching a programme, the team aren’t just looking for compliments — think about what you might have done differently, whether that’s the stories mentioned, the way they’re presented, or the order in which they’ve been shown.

Lauren stands in front of a screen which reads ITV Tyne Tees & Borders
Lauren White in the Tyne Tees & Border newsroom. (Image Credit: Supplied)

Lauren explains: “They’re looking for you to critique it, they’re not going to ask you to say: ‘Oh I love this, it was amazing’. They want to know, would you have ordered the programme that way? Made this longer? Would you have put a live here? It’s that kind of thing. If you were in the position of making decisions, what would you do?’

“And, so, I cannot emphasise enough how watching the programmes is really important. If you’re not familiar with ITV regional news then get familiar before you apply.”

Ciara adds: “When you’re watching, do you notice that there could be more environmental stories, for instance, and is that something that you’re passionate about, that you would champion? What could you bring that they might be missing?’

Bringing story ideas is also a big part of the process — and will come up again if you get put through to the interview stages. “Original journalism is highly valued,” Ciara continues, and advises a focus on community stories that are highly relevant to regional audiences.

“[It should also be] something that you know they haven’t just covered already, so checking what they’ve already done [is important]. Or, if it is a topic that they’ve recently covered, how could you find something to move that story on? Is there another angle?”

“It’s [also] all well and good having a good story idea, but then you also need to think about if it’s good for TV — because we’re all about pictures. If there are no pictures to tell the story it’s going to be quite difficult and you have to get creative to think about how you would do that.”

“It’s the same with digital, we are very big on digital, so think about how you would tell a story for digital and social and how you might do it differently for different audiences. When you make a treatment plan for your story, you can think about the different ways of telling it across those different platforms.”

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“It’s all well and good having a good story idea, but then you also need to think about if it’s good for TV — because we’re all about pictures. If there are no pictures to tell the story it’s going to be quite difficult and you have to get creative to think about how you would do that.”
Ciara Cohen-Ennis, ITV Wales

Megan recalls pitching an idea about a blood testing awareness week — and says that the key is “how you sell it”. She adds: “What elements have you got as part of your idea? How would you approach it? Who might you speak to?”

Finally, Lauren adds that it’s important the idea is realistic. “It doesn’t need to be an undercover investigation,” she explains, “it has to be something they could put on the telly. Think about how you can make it creative and who you would speak to.”

While you might not be able to fit all this detail into your initial application, it’s worth thinking about as you may be asked further questions at the interview stage.

The Interview Stages

After you’ve submitted your application, it will be reviewed by the team at ITV. You’ll then be told if you’re being taken through to the next stage — this usually comprises a group assessment day, followed by a stage of one-to-one interviews.

The assessment day will see you work with other people on various activities across most of the day. While this varies every year, it could be related to the news agenda, pitching ideas, or writing copy.

Megan stresses that how you act is just as important as your skills and the work you do. “It’s really important to be a nice person,” she says. “When you’re being quizzed on the news, it’s not a stress test, but people will look at how you react to those situations.”

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Journo Resources

Raheem Rashid (L) and Simran Johal (R)

Simran adds: “It’s just making sure that you know how the journalism world is changing, with a real focus on digital content and social media. But also there’s a news quiz, so making sure you’re  up to date with what’s going on in the news, across the news — within sport, not just current affairs and politics.”

Raheem agrees. “I was asked a question about The X Factor winner at my assessment day,” he recalls, “so it’s good to be across everything. Know things about finances, money, the economy, what’s the current inflation rate.”

“​​I remember thinking ‘oh my god I’ve got nothing right in this’ — but it’s not about getting everything right, but giving it a go. And I’m sure you will definitely know more than you think you know, especially if you’re reading the news, watching the news.”

As well as keeping on top of current affairs, Lauren also recommends getting familiar with the programmes for the region you’re applying for. Programmes are available to watch on demand on ITV X and Lauren says she watched both ITV News Calendar and ITV Tyne Tees.

“Another good way to do it is that pretty much every region tweets their bulletin,” she adds. “I used to keep across what different regions were doing by watching that in the morning.”

After the group assessment day, you’ll be informed if you’ve made it through to the final interview stage. However, Megan stresses that even getting to the group stage is a huge opportunity to take advantage of.

She tells us: “When you have a group assessment day, you’ll meet people from ITV that will run the different stages — and those might be people you end up trying to network with, or drop an email to, in the future. I think that even if you don’t get in, it is really worth doing.”

The 2024 Deadline Is Sunday, 25 February

The deadline for the current round of applications is Sunday, 25 February 2024 at 11.59pm — typically the application window is open for three weeks.

Try to give yourself plenty of time to complete the first stage — it may even be worth reading the questions in full before you start writing to give your brain a chance to get thinking about them.

The ITV system also allows you to save a draft and come back later, so you don’t have to worry about doing it all in one go.

When preparing for the interview stages, Megan tried to think about three core areas: “Why me, as in why should it be me in terms of the skills I have? [Then] why do you want to do the traineeship — as in have you read about what the traineeship is? The third thing is why do you want to work for ITV, not just the traineeship. What is it about ITV, ITV News, ITV regions that you actually like as a company?”

For example, when talking about why she wanted to join the traineeship, Megan explained how the all-rounder nature of the programme fitted her aspirations and where she was currently at — you don’t need to go in with a career path set in stone.

Lauren, who has since undertaken other ITV interviews to secure her current job as a journalist adds: “One thing I’ve learned in these interviews is to think about what your strengths are. You might be really good at planning stories or getting people to speak [for example] — it’s definitely good to think about what your strengths are beforehand.”

“They will also probably ask what your weaknesses are or if you know what you want to improve on, so always think about that as they’ll ask a weakness question in one way, shape, or form. I think they did also ask me examples of work I’d done that I was proud of, so thinking of that before you go in is helpful.”

As previously mentioned, you may also be expected to talk more about your ideas — so make sure to have thought them through, and ideally come with more than one.Lauren says: “Definitely prepare a story idea and don’t just prepare one — you should have at least two. I think originality is huge — because people in the interview process will say: ‘Well I’ve seen that elsewhere, what would you do differently?’”

What Are They Looking For?

While the application can feel overwhelming, it’s important to remember that they’re just trying to find out more about you — and aren’t looking for the perfect person. Megan says: “I think you just have to show enough skills to prove that you’re very interested in the industry and you have got the potential and that you’re willing to learn.”

Simran agrees: “I think they’re looking for people that can work well in a team, are committed to journalism, and want to learn. I think the reason I was picked — which was mentioned when I got the call to say I got the job — was that I was really keen to learn. The traineeship is a brilliant scheme and it teaches you so much, so come into that with a headspace of keenness and wanting to learn.”

Raheem adds: “At the end of the day, everyone [at the assessment day] is going to be smart and capable. It’s about what you’re bringing that’s different to the team. Is it case studies, is it stories, is it knowledge of a patch, that’s unbeatable compared to anyone else?”

As the job description itself states, they’re looking for people with a passion for journalism, someone with an original perspective, and big ideas for stories.

“It was a great experience,” concludes Raheem. “I learnt so much, I got to travel to new parts of the country that I’d never been to before and you make really good friends with your fellow trainees because you’re always on placement together — you become a family, you experience things together.”

Jem Collins
Jem Collins

Jem is the founder and editor of Journo Resources. She set up the site in her bedroom in 2016 and now works on the project full-time (still from her bedroom though). She is the winner of The Georgina Henry Award, The Sutton Trust’s Alumni Award for Social Impact, a DBACE Award, and WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star Awards.

Outside of Journo Resources she has freelanced for a range of national outlets including the i Paper, and PinkNews. She is also trying to swim in every outdoor pool in the UK and look after her toothless rescue cat Swirls.