New journalists entering the industry cannot expect ethics blunders to be “readily excused”, a senior editor has said.
Speaking at a session on ethics at the Journalism Skills Conference, Donald Martin, editor-in-chief of DC Thomson’s newspapers, said trainees needed to know about the Editors’ Code of Conduct from the outset.
He said editors were less tolerant about these kind of mistakes and there was a greater responsibility on trainees.
Donald said that the NCTJ had introduced a compulsory practical ethics module, with specified hours of teaching, in response to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.
He told the conference: “The trainees face even greater responsibility. The ethics code of conduct is not a work in progress. They need to know this stuff from the outset.
“You can’t expect breaches or blunders to be readily excused just because you are a trainee. Editors are less tolerant. You can lose your job if you get something wrong.
“The responsibility is firmly on trainees to know this stuff coming out of university.”
A separate session on the core skills needed by journalists heard that trainees needed to be able to use Twitter and film video but the essential skills they should have remained the same.
Curiosity, time-management and the ability to spot a good story were all highlighted as vital skills at the conference in Bournemouth.
He said the paper’s best two stories of the year, the Philpott fire case and problems at the Al-Madinah School had come about from “good old-fashioned contacts and curiosity”.
The type of website videos that viewers were interested in was also discussed and Ian said the ones with the biggest hits were from the scenes of breaking incidents.
He said: “Our viewers are not really interested in reporters standing in front of the camera – they just want to see the scene.”