Like dozens of other aspiring young journalists in Italy, Gabriele P found his writing career being held back by the frustratingly slow processes involved in gaining formal accreditation in his own country.
He already had two years’ practical experience before he applied for the six-month postgraduate course in London in 2011 – so what was the attraction of pursuing his training in the UK?
Now 25, Gabriele explains it was to broaden his personal horizons, as well as improving his language and writing skills.
A literature graduate from Milan and a keen sports writer, he was a reporter and web editor for the press agency Italiamedia Editrice from 2008, producing daily reports on different sports for the website www.sportevai.it.
In 2010 he won a “passion reporter” contest promoted by the Corriere della Sera newspaper, which saw his article from Berlin published on the weekly Sette.
“The main reason why I was interested in the course was to have a different view of journalism,” he says. “The way to become a “professional” journalist in Italy is to attend an Italian school for two years.”
He wasn’t alone. The intensive postgraduate courses in London attract a truly international mix of students. Most countries in the world have been represented in the past decade, from Asia and Africa to South America and Eastern Europe, alongside students from the UK and across Europe.
But the connection with Italy has always been strong, even if the challenge of writing in a second language means that opportunities to work in the UK are limited – although notable exceptions include Giovanni Legorano, now working as a copy editor for Dow Jones newswires, and Emanuele Norsa, who is a commodities reporter for Steel Business Briefing.
During his time in London Gabriele contributed to websites like World Football Insider and www.goal.com. Sharp-eyed fellow students might have also spotted his byline on some sports stories he wrote for The Independent during an internship in 2012.
After returning to Milan, Gabriele gained a job two months after finishing the LSJ course as a full-time paid writer for a new online Italian newspaper, www.lettera43.it.
So how did the course in London help? He admits: “In the last years I used to write only about sport, whereas now I can write about everything (politics, economics, news from abroad) and I also know to write in English: this is mostly thanks to the LSJ course.”
His biggest achievements to date? Well, the Corriere della Sera award, obviously. But also his first opportunity to cover AC Milan as a journalist – among other journalists.
“What did I find most useful at the LSJ? For me it was the sub-editing because in Italy we are not used to it. Plus the articles written for tutorials because there you could put theory into practice and improve your skills every month. Other interesting things were TV, radio and media law.”