New ethics module to become central to NCTJ courses

The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) has announced that a new ethics module will be made central to its course, ahead of the publication Lord Justice Leveson’s report tomorrow.

While no one at the NCTJ knows what will come out of the report, there was general recognition that things will have to change at the organisation's annual conference in Nottingham this afternoon..

The course will still comprise of five core modules, but with Practical Journalism Ethics replacing the former Portfolio module, which will be incorporated in the Reporting module.

Meanwhile, the Essential Media Law module will be moved to include a greater emphasis on regulation. As with the ethics module, this content will be dependent on future changes as a result of Leveson’s report.

The other core modules will remain Shorthand and Essential Public Affairs, which will have its syllabus cut down in order to incorporate the new ethics module.

In addition to the five core modules, the NCTJ also unveiled a series of new modules that will be available to NCTJ students at various centres.

These include Political Reporting, Business and Finance Journalism and Broadcast Journalism modules.

The new-look ethics model was set out by NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher, Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott and David Rowell, head of editorial learning and development at Johnston Press.

Summing up the view of the panel, Rowell said: “Ethics has to be at the heart of journalism training.”

This view was not opposed by anyone in the audience, but there was debate over how ethics could be examined by the NCTJ.

Amanda Ball, chief examiner at the NCTJ, revealed that they had considered a number of options but decided that a one-hour written exam would be used to assess ethics.

She said that there would be no “right or wrong answer” but explained that students would be assessed on how they “identify issues”.

She admitted the module would take a lot of work to put together and indicated the NCTJ would be looking to trial it before implementing it universally.

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