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Some NCTJ students have ‘no interest’ in being journalists, editorial boss claims

IanCarterEditorialDirectorKM (1)An editorial chief has urged the NCTJ to address the issue of students training on its courses who “have no interest in actually becoming a journalist”.

Iliffe Media editorial director Ian Carter has raised concerns about the issue, saying there currently are “more jobs and fewer strong candidates” than at any time he can remember.

Ian, pictured, has spoken out following the publication of the NCTJ’s annual report into diversity in the industry.

In the report, author Mark Spilsbury predicted it was “likely” that the under-representation of lower social groups in journalism will continue – echoing the same prediction he made last year.

The NCTJ report revealed 80pc of journalists had a parent in one of the three highest occupational groups, compared to 42pc of all UK workers, while just 2pc have a parent in the lowest two occupational groups compared to 20pc of all workers.

Posting on Twitter, Ian stated his belief that Iliffe’s newsrooms are “more representative of our readers” than the report suggested, partly due to the company’s apprenticeship scheme.

He wrote: “I spent a long time being vaguely embarrassed by my non-education at an Essex comp before getting to a point where it ceased to be an issue. I hope and believe our local newsrooms are more representative of our readers than this report suggests.

“An equally important issue for the NCTJ is the number of journalism students on their courses who clearly have no interest in actually becoming a journalist. There are more jobs and fewer strong candidates than at any point I can remember.”

Added Ian:  “We had to scale back our apprenticeship scheme during the pandemic because it wouldn’t have been fair to take people on when our newsrooms were closed. We are bringing it back and I’d like to hear from anyone who wants to get into the industry but doesn’t know how.

“We’ve been strong supporters of apprenticeships to offer a different route into the industry for a long time, and some of our best journalists joined us via that route.

“A lack of university education early in your career can undoubtedly leave you feeling intimidated when you are sitting alongside people who have clearly benefited from the experience.

“But my message to anyone who wants to become a journalist is an interest in people, a burning desire to be in the middle of a breaking news story and some good ideas will always count for far more than a degree.”

NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher said: “We’re pleased to see the report generating so much discussion. Our journalism students and trainees now have so many more opportunities open to them to work across all media sectors in a wider range of roles as well as the broader economy.

“The number of UK journalists has reached a record high and competition for talent is intense not least because the ability to tell stories and create content is so highly prized and is therefore at a premium.

“We will know more when the interesting results of our next job destinations survey are published.”

A previous report by Mark Spilsbury published in 2019 found that 86pc of students with the Diploma in Journalism qualification were in work, of which 79pc were in a journalism-related job.