Never mind the ballots

Our full-time Diploma trainees put a X against their names, as they signed up for PA Media’s mammoth effort to supply fast, fair and accurate coverage of the recent elections.

Masterminded by the PA’s election editor Matthew George, the mission for the well-rehearsed trainees was to track and collect the results quickly and accurately.

With PA’s reputation on the line – the media big hitters waited anxiously for the results to be transmitted on declaration – there was absolutely no room for errors.

Votes across 200 councils offering up 6,905 seats were being contested by 20,739 candidates. Also, there was the count for seven directly elected mayors across the country.

Furthermore, there were also 18 Northern Ireland parliamentary constituencies offering up 90 seats – this count used a complicated system with quotas, turnout, eliminations and distribution of votes all coming into the mix. It was challenging but the forensic accuracy had to be maintained.

It was an all-night affair as soon as the polls closed on Thursday night, and with the final result being declared on Monday morning. Our trainees armed with hot drinks and a range of snacks never slacked.

Trainee Tom Vigar who was heavily involved with the coverage said: “It has been highly exciting – particularly on election night. I really enjoyed it. I was monitoring Twitter to see what was happening. The thrill was being first. It was great to be involved with behind-the-scenes activities on election night which so far I have only watched on TV. What was even more exciting was to see the result you have just taken from a correspondent popping up on the TV screen.”

Fellow student journalist Matt Hobkinson added: “It was fast paced, exciting and a great first-hand experience to see the inner workings of a fully functioning newsroom.”

Jacob Collick agreed. “It was exciting and the atmosphere was enjoyable and overall a great experience that I would recommend others experience,” he said.

Sukhmani Sethi was struck by the historic nature of the moment. She explained: “I was actually present when the news came in about Northern Ireland. It was significant for me to be taking part in reporting such an historic moment.”

Hannah Cottrell was grateful for the opportunity so soon in her journalistic career. Hannah said: “Eleven weeks into my NCTJ diploma I was given this opportunity to report alongside PA, giving me valuable insights into the world of the newsroom and political journalism.”

PA news and election editor Matt George said: “I was very pleased with the performance of the trainees in the high-pressure situation. They stayed cool under the pressure. They coped very well particularly with the extreme complexity of the Northern Ireland vote.”

Interested in becoming a journalist and being on the front line for the next election? Find out more about our courses here.

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