A study found that editors expected applicants to demonstrate that they had relevant work experience and basic writing and digital skills rather than a degree from an NCTJ, BJTC or PPA accredited undergraduate or postgraduate course.
The research was carried out by Dr Lily Canter, subject group leader for journalism at Sheffield Hallam University,and a former former regional journalist who served as features editor on the Northampton Chronicle and Echo.
She found that half of employers also said that they would employ someone with no journalism training at all if the applicant could demonstrate a strong online portfolio.
Dr Canter interviewed 14 editors from newspapers, magazines, websites, TV and radio as part of her research.
Of those interviewed, only two respondents referred specifically to accredited journalism courses when asked what training they would expect new recruits to have.
A third of respondents said they were specifically looking for evidence of media law training, four referred to shorthand and five referred to work experience as a form of essential training.
One national broadcast editor told Dr Canter: “Rather than a first class honours from a BJTC course I would be more impressed with someone who has written a blog or has 10,000 Twitter followers or runs their own website or YouTube channel and I can look and think yes, that is good stuff, they’re a good journalist.”
Two respondents brought up the attainment of the 100 words per minute shorthand qualification, which they argued was an effective way of “filtering out people who are really committed” and measuring a candidate’s “application rather than intelligence”., but the regional press employer admitted there were exceptions to the rule.
They told Dr Canter: “We would specify that we would expect to be interviewing people who had their NCTJ prelims preferably 100 wpm shorthand and when we do the initial sieve of applicants that would be the first thing we would do in terms of putting a yes and no pile together.
“Equally if we are aware of someone who has been in with us on work experience and we think they have got talent and we like them and we think they would fit in the newsroom and depending on where they are at and what the job is we would probably prioritise that above the qualifications. But we would still expect them to be on route to those qualifications or we would push them towards them.”
The findings were revealed at the Association for Journalism Education (AJE) conference at the University of Greenwich last week and a full paper will be published in a future edition of the AJE journal.
Said Dr Canter: “To date there has been no independent research into the value of journalism accreditation to industry employers. Instead there is an assumption that accreditation matters and provides superior training.
“This research, although small in scale, raises questions about the correlation between employability and accreditation.”