News of the World editor Andy Coulson urged young ambitious journalists to head for Wapping – because he’s worried that there aren’t enough of them to go round.
Coulson told the conference that his newspaper already had the youngest staff on Fleet Street – his newsdesk has an average age of 32, with six of them under 30. The youngest, Ryan Sabey, is just 24 – and brought in the splash in which Prince Harry was accused of cheating in his exams.
But Coulson said: “The shortage of young journalists beating down my door looking for shifts is something that worries me.
“The problem of getting young people interested in the industry is probably one of the biggest challenges we face at the moment.”
In fact, such is the shortage of talented journalists applying to the NoW from the traditional routes – news agencies and the regional press – the paper is having to broaden its search to ‘less conventional areas of the business’.
His last appointment was from the world of PR. Coulson said: “He’s got some skills to learn but he knows a story and he’s got more exclusives than some of our more conventionally trained journalists already”.
But Newcastle Evening Chronicle editor Paul Robertson said he felt the problem was not attracting young journalists, but holding on to them.
Robertson said he gets up to 10 CVs a day from youngsters wanting to become journalists.
The challenge for the industry, he said, was to ensure that the best ones stayed in the game once they’d been trained. “There is the talent out there. We are just letting too much of that talent go.”
Reports by Dominic Ponsford and Ian Reeves