Nick Davies: Many journalism courses 'are genuine crap'

Investigative journalist Nick Davies has criticised the standard of journalism training in the UK – claiming some lecturers “haven’t the faintest idea of how to do the job”.

The Guardian reporter, whose Flat Earth News book caused a stir in the industry when it was published last year, dismissed suggestions made recently by Eastern Daily Press deputy editor Paul Durrant that vocational training was more important than a degree for aspiring journalists.

Speaking to Press Gazette at this weekend’s investigative journalism masterclass at City University in London, which he co-hosted with fellow Guardian journalist David Leigh, Davies said a degree would help young people entering journalism “to understand the world, which is part of being a journalist”.

He did, however, agree with Durrant on the key journalistic qualities such as shorthand, media law and writing techniques.

“They need somebody to teach them shorthand, typing, media law, research technique and writing skills,” Davies told Press Gazette.

“They might get those skills by hands-on experience, as in the traditional indenture system, or they might get them from college courses

“But there is a danger with the courses: there are now hundreds of them which claim to teach these skills, but a great many of them are genuine crap, taught by people who haven’t the faintest idea of how to do the job.”

Durrant’s remarks on the importance of vocational training were made to the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ student council earlier this month.

Davies added that there was still a genuine public demand for investigative journalism.

“The big corporations who currently own so many news media don’t give a damn about journalism,” he said.

“But if somebody somewhere has the brains to see that there are still some people who want real journalism, the investigative stuff could survive.

“For this very reason, investigative work could conceivably have a better chance of surviving than some other kinds of reporting, because there is a genuine demand for it.”

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