Anyone following the media news pages this week will doubtless have noticed a flurry of stories about the imminent death of shorthand, following the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ decision to make it a non-compulsory element of the Diploma in Journalism from next autumn.
‘NCTJ set to make shorthand optional for journalism students who don’t focus on news’ declared Press Gazette in a story published on Tuesday morning.
Ordinarily we’d have followed it up, but we didn’t, for the simple reason that it’s old news. Nearly a year old, in fact.
The changes in question were announced at the NCTJ’s annual Journalism Skills Conference last November, and were covered by us here and subsequently in greater depth, by Steve Dyson on his blog a few days later.
We did, of course, double-check with the NCTJ in case we had missed something, but its marketing and comms executive Benjy Wilson confirmed there had been no further announcements on the issue.
That did not stop various other media outlets following up the story, culminating in The Today Programme, no less, inviting NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher on to discuss the issue yesterday morning.
So why the sudden revival of interest? Well, it all appeared to stem from a single Tweet by Laura McInerney, editor of specialist teaching publication Schools Week, who wrote: “Journo nerds may be intrigued to hear that shorthand will no longer be a compulsory element of the NCTJ from September 2017.”
At the last count, it had been re-tweeted 301 times and gained 154 likes from Laura’s 35,000-plus followers.
From where I’m sitting, the most interesting thing about this episode is not the changes to the Diploma in Journalism, but the changes in news values which have been wrought by the rise of social media.
Such is the power of the Twitterverse that it can now turn a year-old story into hot breaking news in a matter of minutes.
Meanwhile, the future of shorthand will doubtless be back on the agenda again at this year’s Skills Conference, to be held in Portsmouth on the 24-25 of this month, though the decision to make it optional for non-news journalists seems to be all over bar the shouting.
Either way, we’ll be there to report it.