Editors and trainers say they are “shocked” by the lack of public affairs knowledge displayed by some journalism students.
The issue of how public affairs and local democracy reporting is taught was discussed by one group in a break-out session during the conference, held at Harlow College.
In the session, chaired by South Wales Argus editor Nicole Garnon and Cardiff University MA news journalism course director Mike Hill, delegates were asked on how they felt about the current state of public affairs teaching on journalism courses and whether it should remain a compulsory part of NCTJ news journalism courses.
Richard Lindfield, who teaches the subject at Brighton Journalist Works, said: “I’m shocked by how little people know, even people coming in as graduates.
“This is the basics of how our system works and government works. They have to have that as a journalist.”
“A lot of papers have gone down that route and I think they have lost a lot of respect for that.”
In a further discussion, the group also agreed that health authorities failing to respond to requests from journalists had become an issue which needs to be examined.
Presenting the group’s findings to the conference, Mike said: “Health seems to be a real problem. People in health aren’t very good at giving information to anybody, whether students or the professional press.”