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Survey highlights need for mix of skills

The 21st century journalist requires a healthy mix of ‘old’ and ‘new’ skills, according to the results of a major new survey.

Combining traditional skills such as shorthand with video and audio recording capabilities is now seen as vital in the modern-day newsroom.

This was just one of the findings of the ‘Journalism Skills Survey’ conducted by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

Its full results were presented at the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Conference, in Manchester on Friday.

The survey concluded: “Trying to find what the industry may look like in five years time is fraught with dangers.

“Change has been rapid in recent years and few, if any, are willing to stick their necks out and say what the world will look like five – or even two – years from now.

“Among both national and regional newspapers, there was strong recognition that journalists would need the ‘new’ skills.

“There was broad consensus across the views of interviewees that the skill sets of print journalists and broadcast journalists are becoming similar.

“The view was also articulated that all sectors are looking for new entrants who are comfortable working across two of three platforms in the course of a working day.”

The survey was carried out in September and October and canvassed opinion among 50 journalism course providers and 217 print, broadcast, magazine and online journalism employers.

In his report foreword, NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher said: “What emerged strongly was these were not areas for compromise. There was no question of old or new: employers clearly wanted both.”

Initial findings, presented at the Society of Editor’s conference last month, showed many editors thought there was a lack of so-called core skills such as story telling and news gathering among new trainees.

NCTJ project manager Paul Watson told the Manchester conference: “Some of the responses said ‘Questioning is a dying art, quality of writing is inadequate, far too often spelling and grammar is suspect and they don’t know how to write quickly and clearly’.

“Traditional skills remain the bedrock upon which we should build.”


Chris Gaynor (08/12/2008 08:36:32)
Is this possibly because the quality of journalism teaching on courses is declining? So many people are wanting to do journalism now that the courses are finding it difficult to determine who is a good writer and who is a good questioner…the two don’t always go hand in hand…

John Murphy (15/12/2008 16:11:56)
It is the job of the teachers to teach and the job of the editors to decide whom then hire. Journalism is a very popular course and just like with other popular subjects like law there are more people doing courses than there are jobs available.
The NCTJ qualification should stand for a core set of skills around accurate storytelling, it is not a substitute for judgement when it comes to hiring. As always people will be hired according to what they can do, and more importantly what they can show in terms of cuttings or other results, not certificates.
Sadly many journalism students believe that exam results are the key to a job, whereas its the “get up and go” to find a story that editors really value.