More student journalists learning shorthand

Despite the need for journalists to be increasingly tech-savvy – more and more are training in the traditional skill of shorthand, according to the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

The body revealed that 736 shorthand exams were taken at NCTJ centres between September and December 2008 compared with 403 in the same period a year before.

In 2008 – 153 took the test at 60 words per minute;98 at 70 wpm; 162 at 80wpm and 278 at 100wpm.

The NCTJ’s recent journalism skills survey found that shorthand at 100wpm “still has widespread support” among newspaper editors.

“The point was made more than once [by editors] that a reporter needs shorthand to be able to go to court to get the facts and quotes from the evidence,” the report said.

But some of the editors questioned by the NCTJ said they might be prepared to drop the standard to 80 or 90 – or test students for shorter periods of time.

One described the current requirement to take down two minutes at 100wpm as “archaic” when a chosen selection of quotes would be enough for a story..

NCTJ chief examiner for shorthand Marie Cartwright said of the latest figures: “Achieving the industry standard of 80wpm for those on magazine courses and 100wpm for newspaper journalism students is a tough test, but these figures show that those who put in the work can, and do, achieve well.”

Sept to Dec 2008 – NCTJ shortand exams

Number of exams sat, pass rate (per cent)

  • 60wpm: 153, 57
  • 70wpm: 98, 77
  • 80wpm: 162, 65
  • 90wpm: 36, 53
  • 100wpm: 278, 51

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