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Editors to survey state of journalism training

The Society of Editors has launched a wide-ranging survey into the state of journalism training in a bid to ensure it is fit for the digital age.

On the day the latest NCE results showed a 6pc year-on-year drop in the pass rate for the main industry examination, the SoE is asking editors, students and trainers alike to have their say on the issue of how journalists are prepared for the modern-day workplace.

HoldtheFrontPage readers are being urged to contribute to the survey which seeks among other things to probe whether accreditation actually matters and whether 100wpm shorthand is still essential.

The results will be published at the SoE annual conference to be held on 11-13 November in Belfast.

Editors, journalism students and trainers wanting to contribute to the survey should click on the relevant link below. All submissions will remain confidential.

Launching the survey yesterday, the Society said the rise in digital technologies, media convergence and ethical issues had led to drastic changes in what is being taught in the classroom.

At the same time, with the huge commercial pressures on the regional press in particular, entry into the industry has never been so competitive.

Simon Bucks, associate editor of Sky News and chair of Society’s Training Committee said: “By surveying trainees, trainers and editors, we hope to gather a picture of every aspect of training across the board.

“From the qualifications to employment; we believe the results will provide a clearer picture of what skills are essential to prosper and flourish. As with anything – there’s always room for improvement.

“In collating the results trainees will hear from industry experts exactly what they are looking for when you walk through that door, accreditors can consider how flexible trainers consider their syllabus to be and editors will be provided with an overview of what differing institutes have to offer.

“With the Leveson Inquiry coming to a climax there has never been a more important time for the industry to demonstrate its commitment to high standards in journalism and those standards depend on top quality, precisely targeted training.”

10 comments

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  • August 9, 2012 at 9:40 am
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    I would ask why newspaper editors are so obsessed with formal qualifications, as opposed to experience? I have 27 years’ experience of journalism, mainly in Ireland, but also in England, yet when I apply for jobs I am invariably told I lack the experience they are seeking.
    Why is Irish experience not considered relevant in the English regional media (London is an entirely different matter, much more broad-minded)? If Irish journalists like Orla Guerin and Craig Doyle and Fergal Keane and Enda Brady and Tadgh Enright can attain prominent posts in the UK broadcasting media, why not in the newspapers of Lancashire and Yorkshire, Essex and Wiltshire?

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  • August 9, 2012 at 10:20 am
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    If you’ve got the right experience, qualifications don’t matter. I should know, I never finished mine, but it’s not been a barrier to my career for 10 years now.

    However, if you’re trying to get started as a trainee these days, you’ll find it very hard to get a look in without the right qualifications.
    There are far more candidates than ever before for far fewer jobs, so newspaper editors can set the bar higher.
    Why look twice at someone who hasn’t got the correct qualifications when you get dozens of CVs for every trainee post?

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  • August 9, 2012 at 10:35 am
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    But Barry, I am not talking of trainee posts, I am talking of senior reporter/chief reporter roles. My point is that my experience shows I can do the job, but I still don’t get called for interviews.
    It appears as if Irish experience is not seen as relevant.

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  • August 9, 2012 at 11:29 am
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    I think the editors might be better fighting for more reporters. So many papers are seriously under-staffed for coping with paper and web.
    The company I work for no longer seems concerned with quality- just get the paper out with as few people as possible.
    Quality of training seems a side issue at this time really.
    It’s a shame we are still employing young people who cannot spell or use grammar correctly, though. And their errors are so often not corrected. Back to the staff issue…

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  • August 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm
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    My point is if you’ve got the right experience, I don’t think a lack of qualifications is a barrier. Once I reached a certain level, I never had any issues finding more work or gaining promotion.

    If that experience comes from abroad, it might be a different matter. People hiring may have no idea how things work in Ireland or whether journalism standards there are the same as they are here (I know they are, probably even better in places, but not everyone will).

    When the decreasing job market is flooded with experienced journalists, English-based experience will clearly hold more sway than experience gained in another country.

    But this all off topic really – the original article isn’t about experienced reporters or journalists from abroad, it’s about how good our training is and how trainees are treated.

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  • August 9, 2012 at 12:24 pm
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    Declan McSweeney’s experience is something I too came across when applying for jobs in the UK while I was working as a journalist in Dublin. I had gone to Dublin from London as it was step up career wise. But once there it was difficult to return.

    I only managed to get back into UK journalism by returning to London and freelancing until I could get a staff job. I don’t know why editors don’t want to interview Irish-based journalists. Maybe they think, they’ll have to pay their fare for an interview!

    It may also be that they think they cannot afford Irish-based journalists. I don’t know what the position is like now but in my time in Ireland, Dublin salaries for journalists were second only to Fleet Street, a factor that saw many Scottish journalists relocate to Dublin.

    The present situation is that editors now seem to want to qualifications rather than someone who has served his/her time in a newsroom or magazine office. That could be because recently graduated journalism students are prepared to work for long periods for free (under the guise of what is laughingly called a work placement or internship) . Or if being paid, are cheaper than experienced journalists.

    The quality of training in the UK is like the parson’s egg – good in parts. But from what I have heard and from my own experience as a journalism trainer, the training in Ireland is not as good as here.

    But the quality of training should not affect Declan’s position because he has something better….27 years experience.

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  • August 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm
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    Any journalism student who undertakes four years of study to try to get a job at barely £15,000 a year with little prospect of a living wage must be prepared to live at home or be in a renting situation forever.

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  • August 10, 2012 at 11:53 am
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    Brendan, I should clarify I am already based in England, so there was no question of paying me to travel from Ireland. Moreover, when I was in Ireland, I wasn’t based in Dublin, but down the country, my salary would have been vastly lower than those in the capital.

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  • August 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm
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    “Any journalism student who undertakes four years of study to try to get a job at barely £15,000 a year with little prospect of a living wage must be prepared to live at home or be in a renting situation forever. ”

    Who says for an instance a journalism student should undertake four years of study? There is no desire among employers for candidates to have journalism degrees, most simply demand the NCTJ pre-lims which take 12 or 6 months depending on academic qualifications. Most media trainers actually advise people NOT to get journalism degrees as it limits their emplyability should they decide journalism is not for them.

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