Senior journalists are to be offered ethics training in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal in a bid to prevent standards being eroded by “newsroom culture.”
The National Council for the Training of Journalists has told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that it plans to develop courses aimed at the “continuing professional development of journalists.”
It says that although it already attempts to deliver “sound ethical training,” it says this is also shaped by “prevailing newsroom culture and ethical decision-making.”
In a submission to the inquiry, NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher says ongoing training for already-qualified seniors will help embed a “strong culture of responsible, ethical journalism” into newsrooms.
Said Joanne: “Partly as a result of issues identified by the Inquiry, we have commissioned an independent report on the current approach to ethics training and its assessment. Even greater emphasis will be placed on its importance for all journalists.
“The NCTJ can deliver journalists with sound ethical training to the newsroom but we are very conscious that ethical behaviour can be shaped by the prevailing newsroom culture and by editorial decision-making.
“For that reason, we are developing courses for the continuing professional development of journalists so that seniors continue to be reminded about their responsibilities.
“We recognise there must be more on-going training to enhance, support and reinforce codes of conduct for professional journalists.
“The development of senior journalists needs to be incremental so that a strong culture of responsible, ethical journalism is embedded into newsrooms.
“Management and leadership skills are as essential as the traditional editorial ‘craft’ skills for future leaders of our newsrooms.”
The inquiry, being chaired by Lord Justice Leveson, was set up to investigate the role of press and police in the phone-hacking scandal and to make recommendations on the future of press regulation.
Regional editors have already told the inquiry their papers are generally more ethical than those in national press.
Last January, Ipswich Star editor Nigel Pickover contrasted the behaviour of his own title during the spate of Ipswich murders in 2006 with that of national newspapers.
And Yorkshire Post editor Peter Charlton said national newspapers had widely used photos of Colonel Gadaffi’s corpse but his paper decided against their use.