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Press photography qualification scrapped due to ‘lack of demand’

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A pre-entry qualification for press photographers is set to be scrapped due to a “lack of demand.”

The National Council for the Training of Journalists is withdrawing its Diploma in Journalism for Press Photographers and Photojournalists from a register of qualifications.

The move is set to hit Sheffield College as the last remaining centre to run the course, due to be revived this month after being put on hold last year.

A statement on the NCTJ’s website said no one else could register for the qualification and certification for it would end on 31 August next year. It adds that a new specialist option in photography is now available in the Diploma in Journalism.

The move comes after the NCTJ scrapped its NQJ senior qualification for photographers due to a lack of demand, with the final exam taking place in July.

The training body said its diploma for photographers is being withdrawn from the Register of Regulated Qualifications and it has notified Ofqual and the Welsh Government.

Steve Phillips, NCTJ chief examiner for press photography and photojournalism, said: “The Diploma in Journalism for Press Photographers and Photojournalists is being withdrawn from the qualifications register due to a lack of demand.

“However, photography for journalists, a new specialist option in the Diploma in Journalism, is now available for photographers and can be studied alongside videojournalism for online and essential media law.”

The long-standing press photography course at Sheffield College, which was run by Paul Delmar for 30 years, has launched the careers of hundreds of photographers but was shelved in 2014 because of a lack of interest.

But the college is due to revive the course this month after moving its journalism training from its Norton centre to a new multi-million pound base at its Hillsborough site.

Commenting on the NCTJ’s move, Sheffield College principal Heather Smith said: “We welcome the launch of the Diploma in Journalism photography module.

“This new option will enable students to specialise in press photography as part of a broad range of media industry skills.

“We are the first NCTJ accredited centre to offer the photography module, which will be taught at our new £8.8m Centre for Creative Industries opening this September.

“We are committed to providing the skills that employers need, and our students are very successful at moving into employment.”

22 comments

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  • September 7, 2015 at 8:18 am
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    Press training is one of the most cynical and exploitative aspects of the industry now, Trinity Mirror constantly advertise their own courses in their own newspaper despite knowing you’ve probably got a 1/100 chance (or less) of even getting a sniff of some work experience afterwards.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 9:06 am
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    After the Newsquest photographer sackings reported last week, and dozens similar across all news companies this year, who on earth would still imagine snapping offers a long-term career? Anyway, I’m inviting entries for my petrol pump attendants’ course now, so send a cheque payable to R Minim for £2,000 to the usual address and I’ll get you started on the two-star/four-star module.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 9:10 am
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    The answer is simple.
    Press photographers must fight back, by starting to return to photojournalism and writing articles to accompany pictures.
    How hard is it to coble up the usual police press release with 15 words uttered by a bystander.
    Thats all they run.
    Who will win ? the journalist with his I-phone or the tog with his kit and the same police press blurb ?
    NUJ are throwing togs under the bus to save themselves.
    Fight back.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 9:51 am
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    Simple fact, you cannot run a course without students. What we should be asking is why the NCTJ have failed press photography. This is a charity set up to promote training.

    The NCTJ charitable aims state: “To advance the education and training of trainee journalists including press photographers”

    I agree with Dick Minim that it is not a good time to look at local newspapers as a career. But this was actually one of the most successful NCTJ courses as far as getting people into jobs. You probably do not know that because the NCTJ were not very good at promoting that fact.

    There are still a lot of pictures being published, perhaps more than ever before.

    The move to a module within the reporter training will simply mean people are ‘trained’ without the proper equipment. It will be mobile phone shooting, probably taught at most of the 60 odd NCTJ centres.

    The NCTJ used to stand for quality. Now it appears to look at the economics first – is that the role of a charity ?

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  • September 7, 2015 at 10:17 am
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    @Jeff Jones – The ads in Trinity Mirror titles are for the Press Association Foundation Course in Journalism. The only journalism training courses TM runs are for internal staff. I think PA will tell you their Foundation Course trainees have close to a 100 per cent record in finding jobs in the media. But why let complete ignorance of the facts get in the way of a snarky comment?

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  • September 7, 2015 at 10:53 am
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    @ unbelievable Jeff

    Hi Ali

    I’m sure they would, but then the kids where my Mrs teaches all passed their SATS, except they didn’t, if you know what I mean.

    I found this quite interesting from HTFP this year: “But the report, commissioned by the NCTJ and released today, found that only 24pc of those in work after their courses were employed by regional or local newspapers.”

    The prices are also extortionate now too. I paid 850 for mine eight years ago, some of these courses charge upwards of five grand – five grand.

    It’s a cynical business, anyone who runs (or advertises) these courses knowing full well that there’s only ever a matter of weeks until another cul has a moral deficit to say the least.

    The only people who wouldn’t think this is pretty outrageous are the Patty Hearst brigade like you waiting for their payouts so they can buy their winabago and take up a PR directorship with the council.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 11:02 am
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    Two things have happened. A mass sacking of press photographers because they send journalists out with an i-phone and two for the price of one is the name of the game. The other is you are nothing without a degree – be it the office cleaner, photographer or the journo. So get with the grove and start making an inroad. Read the paper and see the stories they use and present them with the same with words and a picture. Hardly rocket science is it – but for goodness sake stop moaning and shaking your head.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 11:28 am
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    Dear Liz Justice

    How many local newspapers will pay for a story ? How much do you think they will pay for a picture ?

    You can get things published but please do not expect to make a living by supplying local newspapers.

    They want everything for nothing these days. Give them a call and listen out for: ‘Sorry, we don’t have a budget for that’.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 12:34 pm
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    biggest un-shock of the century. Free pix are all most local rags are interested in and my how it shows.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 12:54 pm
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    It’s not reporters with iphones that have killed off the local press photographer but the general public with iphones, Facebook and Twitter. It became evident in my last few years as a staffer before being made redundant that people were quite happy to take their own pix and send them in to the paper – with variable results. Photographers now have to sell their skills directly to the public and persuade them of the benefits of having professionally taken photos for whatever event they want covering. Hard news photography as a business proposition is no longer viable as local and regional newspapers won’t pay for it. The only paying future for a hard news photographer would seem to be with agencies and nationals, but they require experience which is now impossible to get. The NCTJ would be better off running a business skills & photography course instead, aimed at freelancers.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 2:20 pm
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    @Jeff Jones – Interesting that your response to being caught with your trousers down, facts-wise, is to hurl a casual insult and then jump on to a different set of issues. Classy.

    By the way, you got my name wrong.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 4:48 pm
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    Some very good points made but for me Billy Fish gets my vote.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 6:20 pm
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    If a pic comes across my desk I’m not going to ask if the photographer has a qualification. What matters is the pic. You don’t need a qualification to take a good pic.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 8:23 pm
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    Just so, so sad after all the work people like PaulDelmar have put into making newspapers something worth buying. Have to agree totally with Paul and Billy the Fish. By the way, enjoy the retirement, Paul, and try not to become too sad at the way the dice has turned on true professionals.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 8:59 pm
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    Mark,
    “How hard is it to coble up the usual police press release with 15 words uttered by a bystander.”

    In your case, too difficult. Either invest in a dictionary and some punctuation, or stick to snapping.

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  • September 7, 2015 at 10:03 pm
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    What a great shame. I have very fond memories of my NCTJ press photography training in the cold, cold winter of 1980/81 under the fine teaching of Eddie Bissell and Paul Delmar. It was fun, informative and a great “real-world” based course that focused on the everyday job of being a press photographer.
    I moved over from actually taking pictures to editing after getting fed up with having no control over what happened to my pictures but the visual skills that I learned at Richmond equipped me for a unique career path, in which I ended up as deputy night editor of The Times (I still had to fight the derogatory labelling by some fellow executives of being an ex-snapper!)
    The concept of something-for-nothing journalism, which has left so many local newspapers without picture desks of dedicated picture staff is still hard to grasp. However, even at the nationals’ level the first question that gets asked when a picture is liked is “is it free?”.
    And don’t get me started on “internships”. In my book it should be illegal to employ anyone for more than a week without paying them the proper rate for the job!
    This week we have all had a timely reminder of the power of a photograph to change. The haunting image of a toddler’s body washed up on a beach has propelled both public and politicians to act over the refugee crisis. Sometimes a picture is not worth a thousand words – it’s worth a million and more.

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  • September 8, 2015 at 8:40 am
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    Next time around I’m going to be a
    Banker and carry a camera with me everywhere.

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  • September 8, 2015 at 10:33 am
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    Shame. A result of the current public obsession with worthless degrees and the death of quality photography in papers. My year at Sheffield under the tutelage of Paul was far more useful than the four years I spent getting a degree at Aberdeen Uni. I owe my current job as a photographer/videographer to the NCTJ course, as do hundreds of other togs around the country. In my year, I think every single student went on to a job as a tog. The ones I am still in touch with still shoot for a living more than ten years later. I regularly see press photography prizes won by people who I know did this course.

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  • September 8, 2015 at 11:21 am
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    In reply to “Up North, Up North”, you may not need a qualification to take a good pic but you do need good training and the qualification shows you’ve understood that training. We were also taught law on Paul Delmar’s Sheffield course so the pic that appears on “Up North’s” desk will not only be well composed, well lit and well exposed it will also be obtained legally. All these aspects were covered on Paul Delmar’s course and the resulting qualification we obtained!

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  • September 8, 2015 at 11:37 am
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    Can someone give me some tips on how to hold my iPhone to take better snaps please?
    Where I am in Norfolk the ‘local paper’ regularly contacts Twitter posters asking if they can use their tweeted pix, scrapes Facebook and Twitter for news stories and also attempted to encourage readers to submit content for free cinema tickets, what they failed to realise was that so few people are actually buying the papers that uptake was laughable.
    It’s all about filling papers as quickly and cheaply as possible irrespective of the source.
    And they say regional press is dying

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  • September 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm
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    The Photojournalism ‘module’ is a condensed version of what was the full time Photojournalism/Press Photography diploma. Any students wishing to take this module will be expected to use professional DSLR cameras. They will be taught photographic knowledge (technical aspects of photography) and photographic practice as they would have been taught on the full time course. They have to produce a portfolio of images which must be of a high standard to hit the marking criteria.
    Mobile journalism will be taught as part of the reporting module to all students on the Journalism Diploma.
    Billy Fish is right, there are no jobs for newspaper photographers but there are still jobs with news and picture agencies so there is still a reason to train ‘photojournalists’ and not just ‘journalists’ with a mobile phone.
    Who doesn’t like to see stunning/ striking/gobsmacking or plain brilliant images taken by a professional photojournalist over a badly framed, badly lit very average images shot on a mobile phone? Unless you just plain don’t give a hoot about quality much like the local newspapers these days.

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  • September 8, 2015 at 7:35 pm
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    Dear JP

    I hope you are correct and the ‘new’ module will be delivered to a professional standard.

    My fear is that the other 60+ NCTJ centres will also offer this new module and they will probably not have a professional DSLR between them.

    How many hours are being allocated to this module ? What has been cut from the reporters course to make room for this time ?

    Once again it is great idea from the NCTJ – until you think about how it will all work …………

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