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Four out of five media employers still regard shorthand as important

A major of survey of journalism employers has found that more than four out of five of them still consider shorthand to be an important skill within their organisations.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists consulted with journalism and media employers in the UK to determine the relevance of shorthand in their businesses

It found that 82pc of media employers consider shorthand to be vital, desirable or essential, while only 18pc who took part in the survey regard it as not being important.

Sixty responses were received from employers and individuals representing 24 national newspapers, regional newspapers, magazines, broadcasters, news agencies and others.

The report found a clear divergence of views between sectors, organisations and individuals, with opinions depending both on the sector and on the the roles which journalists have within those sectors.

One respondent from a national newspaper said: “If a reporter joins having not done an NCTJ we can really tell the difference, and shorthand is a major part of that.

“I would not be able to trust a reporter in court, on the phone, or in any situation if they did not have shorthand.”

An editor from the broadcast sector said: “Trying to run a news rota which includes reporters without shorthand can be challenging as you can’t always guarantee you’ll have the right skills on shift at the time you need them.”

However, another broadcaster said: “Most journalists now record interviews on their phones and use shorthand to take basic notes. Precise quotes will be checked against their phone recordings.”

And a respondent from a regional newspaper raised the question of whether the requirement to learn shorthand was harming diversity.

They said: “A lack of shorthand should not be a barrier to entering journalism. Insisting on shorthand closes off non-conventional routes into journalism which may provide candidates from more diverse socio-economic backgrounds.”

And a broadcaster added: “Unnecessary and old-fashioned requirements for shorthand freeze out a lot of disabled journalists.”

The report concludes that shorthand remains a useful skill for individuals to learn, contributing to and underpinning other journalistic skills and demonstrating commitment.

Emma Robinson, pictured, accreditation manager at the NCTJ, said: “We carried out this survey to understand the significance of shorthand in the journalism and media industry today.

“The NCTJ’s policy on shorthand should cater for all types of journalistic roles in different media organisations, and we recognise that some roles and career paths chosen by NCTJ graduates may not require shorthand.

“If students seek to be employed in news journalism roles (particularly in national and regional newspapers) then training providers should make clear that shorthand should be studied and that not taking shorthand will lead to a diminished range of opportunities.

Added Emma: “If students are looking to find jobs in broadcast journalism, magazine journalism and sports journalism for example, where shorthand is seen as less of a crucial skill, courses with a focus on these types of sectors will continue to have the flexibility to deliver a combination of elective modules that may not include shorthand.

“The NCTJ does recommend that shorthand is offered as an option to give students access to all the key skills required to succeed in the journalism industry.

“If centres advertise their courses as gateway qualifications for all journalism careers, then those centres should offer shorthand at least as an option to all students should they wish to pursue certain career routes.”

The results of the survey can be read in full here.