Diploma in Journalism review 'will integrate new and traditional skills'

The NCTJ will be reviewing the structure and contents of its Diploma in Journalism to ensure the qualification is continuing to meet the needs of the industry, the Society of Editors regionals’ seminar was told on Monday, 22 June.

“The NCTJ’s approach is to integrate the relevant new and old skills; and not to treat them separately or as a bolt-on in our training and assessments. It’s a combination of traditional and digital news gathering tools,” Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ, said as she addressed regional editors as part of a panel on the digital revolution and the skills needed at the Renaissance Hotel in Manchester.

“However, while our focus is multimedia and multi-skilling we also recognise the need to allow for a growing range of specialist skills.”

Joanne said that even though the current diploma content continued to be valid and received a high satisfaction score, there was a case for more flexibility. She said questions needed to be asked about the needs of social media journalists and video journalists, as well as the relevance of touch typing, coding and shorthand.

Joanne added that the NCTJ will shortly be publishing the results of independently commissioned survey into the job destinations of NCTJ students who completed their accredited courses six months ago, to help inform a revised structure for the entry-level qualification. She also appealed for guidance from the industry to ensure that “flexibility doesn’t lead to unacceptable compromises on standards and quality”.

Joanne told delegates at the event: “It’s a tough balancing act and we need your continued leadership and involvement to make sure we make the right decisions.”

The session, chaired by Simon Bucks, associate editor at Sky News and chairman of the Society of Editors parliamentary and legal committee, also included Peter Clifton, editor-in-chief of the Press Association, Donald Martin, editor of the Sunday Post and chairman of the Society of Editors training committee, and Martin Tideswell, ‎editor-in-chief at Staffordshire Sentinel News and Media. 

As part of the session Donald Martin, who is also a director of the NCTJ, highlighted the importance of continuing professional development (CPD) and said that new skills are constantly required in the modern newsroom. He added the Society of Editors would look at promoting professional development to encourage career enhancement and quality journalism. 

He said: “I wouldn’t have had my career without CPD, even though I wouldn’t have recognised it as such at the time.

“I would struggle to cope with the myriad of challenges without having gained a lot of shared knowledge and experience along the way.”