Students told: Forget journalism degree, get training

Vocational training is more important than a degree for new journalists, the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ student council has heard.

The event brought together editors, trainers, and 40 students from the NCTJ‘s 42 accredited training centres, who asked how to succeed in journalism.

The meeting came as university admissions service Ucas reported a 24 per cent increase in applications for journalism courses – despite at least 1,000 journalists losing their jobs since the summer.

Eastern Daily Press deputy editor Paul Durrant told the meeting: “I’m not bothered about a degree. I’m bothered about NCTJ qualifications. I’m bothered about vocational training.

“I’m looking for maturity, passion and confidence. In terms of currency in the industry, I need to know someone’s got 100 words-per-minute shorthand, that they know what a section 39 [order] is.”

Newbury Weekly News editorial director Brien Beharrell said on preparing for interviews: “Get the real paper, don’t just read it online. Take a bit of trouble, don’t just sit on the net – as that’s what everybody does.”

Society of Editors executive director Bob Satchwell encouraged students to ask questions during the interview about the paper and suggest ideas for follow-ups.

“Be interested in what the paper is about,” he said.

The student council was set up by the NCTJ last year. Chief executive Joanne Butcher said: “The NCTJ is keen to put students at the heart of our decision-making, and the student council is the ideal opportunity for us to do this.

“The industry’s training scheme benefits them as individuals, as well as the news industry, by supplying it with skilled workers, so it is our duty to them to try to get it right.

“It is also a great opportunity for students to talk to editors and share experiences with each other, and we will be using their comments to fuel progress at the NCTJ, as we did last year.”

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