James Mayer interview: How De Aston Sixth Form helped the Lincolnite journalist

A former De Aston student has secured his first job as a journalist and is looking forward to a bright future in the industry.

Having completed his A Levels (English Literature, History and Drama & Theatre Studies) at De Aston School in 2016, James Mayer graduated with a BA in English and Politics from the University of York. From there, he moved to London and undertook an NCTJ journalism diploma, learning some key skills such as shorthand, media law, public affairs and writing/editing.

Things started to move quickly for James after completing his diploma:

“I began looking for work once I finished my NCTJ, then coronavirus arrived,” he says. “I was lucky enough to find some freelance writing work for a local marketing company in Louth, then came across a journalism job at The Lincolnite. I applied and was successful!

“I joined The Linclolnite’s editorial team in November 2020 as a Local Democracy Reporter, covering authorities across Greater Lincolnshire for the BBC Local News Partnerships scheme. My role is funded by the BBC to source local news for the BBC to use on their website and for other news organisations across Greater Lincolnshire to use my work too. Greater Lincolnshire includes the county of Lincolnshire as well as North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire authorities. I cover local political stories on councils, police, hospitals and COVID-19.”

Looking back on his time at De Aston School and Sixth Form, James specifically picks out the teaching and extra-curricular opportunities offered by the English Department as having a defining influence on his future:

“I reflect fondly on my time at De Aston, especially my role as Head Boy,” he says. “The teaching I received was exceptional, especially by the English Department. If it was not for Miss Peacock and her kindness, support and belief in me, I would not have received an A* in English Literature at A Level and got a place at my dream university, the University of York. Thank you, Miss Peacock!”

“Getting involved with the school newspaper at De Aston sparked my interest in journalism as well as developing my writing skills in English. There were great opportunities at De Aston to get involved with journalism.” 

As a former De Aston student who has gone on to achieve success in the industry, James is able to offer some words of advice to budding journalists at the School:

“My advice is to start blogging, finding your own local stories to write and keeping up-to-date on the news,” he says. “Wordpress and Medium are great free blogging sites to get started and once you begin writing lots of pieces, you can build a journalism portfolio online. Getting work experience if you can is also key. I managed to secure work experience at Sky News in 2017, 2018 and while I was on my NCTJ in 2019. This reinforced my passion for journalism and built up my skillset and knowledge.”

“Journalism can be a tough industry so you need to be resilient and have thick skin as well as being chatty, warm and sociable. However, it is the perfect job for anyone who fancies covering varied stories each day. No day is ever the same!”

Want to find out more about De Aston Sixth Form? Our brand-new Sixth Form Prospectus is available to view and download now. Browse our wide range of courses and opportunities on offer and, when you’re ready, apply via our simple online application form.

You can follow James on his journalist journey below:

Twitter: @JamesMayer

LinkedIn: James Mayer

Portfolio: jamesmayer.journoportfolio.com

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