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Industry and NCTJ 'working together' to ensure journalists have digital skills

The media industry and the National Council for the Training of Journalists are working together to ensure journalists have the skills needed to tackle the digital revolution, the Society of Editors’ Scotland conference has heard.

Speaking to delegates during the session on Training with new technology: how to train the journalists of tomorrow, NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher said traditional journalism skills were as important and relevant as ever, but the industry was adding new components to its skills base rather than replacing them.

She said: “New media developments mean a wider range of skills are required than ever before.

“The media landscape has exploded. There are now more newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, websites, blogs, podcasts, mobile and video messaging, text-based delivery services than ever before and more are being launched as we speak.”

She told those gathered at the event at Glasgow Caledonian University that the NCTJ was playing its part in getting the right people and the skilled workforce to facilitate the technological change, which had prompted a revolution in the approach to training and qualifications.

She said: “Against this changing media back-drop the industry has agreed that it is in everyone’s interests – employers, trainers and trainees – for there to be one agreed and recognised assessment methodology for journalism training and qualifications and that the NCTJ should be charged with co-ordinating these arrangements.

“As a result we now have a much more coherent strategy for journalism training and a training scheme based on consistency rather than confusion.

“We are promoting mixed, modern methods of on and off-the-job learning and assessment.

“The result of some of this work is a new online journalism syllabus that relates writing and editing specifically to the online medium.

“It’s light on the technical but it does include the development of sufficient technical ability to create and present stories for the website. It also includes the ability to compile and publish online video and audio reports.

“It is designed to be integrated into the well established pathways for reporters, as well as sub-editors, magazine journalists and photo-journalists. The video journalism units are also being integrated into the curriculum for press photographers.

“In the year ahead you will see trainees from NCTJ courses who can write and edit news stories, news backgrounders and features for multi-media.

“We have had to adapt our training and qualifications so that our people think of multi platforms as well as printed newspapers.”

During the session, Training with new technology: how to train the journalists of tomorrow, delegates also heard from Middlesbrough Evening Gazette editor Darren Thwaites, Teesside University senior lecturer Andy Price and Atholl Duncan, head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland.