NCTJ launches entry level industry standard qualification for broadcast journalism

Catherine Houlihan, chief examiner for broadcast journalism at the National Council for the Training of Journalists and head of news at ITV Anglia, has officially launched the new qualification for broadcast journalists.

At the NCTJ’s Qualification Forum on 10 May, Catherine explained how the NCTJ developed the broadcast option, its aims and content. She said: “Meeting employers’ needs is at the heart of the broadcast module. Just as a newspaper editor knows what an NCTJ-trained journalist is capable of, the broadcast module will equip students with the core skills needed for entry level into television and radio newsrooms.

“We’ve worked closely with employers across the industry to ensure this module covers the essential skills they expect in a new journalist.”

The aims of the module are to ensure trainee journalists can write accurate, compliant stories for TV and radio, that they are familiar with the techniques and digital technology of broadcast newsgathering, have a good working knowledge of regulation and equipment, and can conduct quality broadcast interviews.  The module must be studied alongside the core skills of multiplatform reporting, essential public affairs, essential media law and shorthand.

The broadcast journalism option is a double module and the programme of study covers: writing for broadcast; broadcast interviews; broadcast newsgathering and digital media; broadcast production techniques; and broadcast regulation. There are four assessments: a practical TV news exercise; a practical radio news exercise; a broadcast regulation exam; and a piece of TV or radio coursework.

The Qualifications Forum was hosted by Cerys Griffiths, editor, television news, BBC North West and more than 20 training centres were represented.

Cerys, who is a member of the NCTJ accreditation board, presented new draft broadcast accreditation guidelines which will accompany the accreditation standard. Centres choosing to deliver the broadcast module must have the expertise and resources to meet the industry’s standards as detailed in the guidelines.  Centres piloting the broadcast journalism option in its first year include Bournemouth University, University of Kent, University of Salford and University of Ulster.

The forum also provided the opportunity for heads of journalism to meet NCTJ board member Stephen Mitchell, deputy director, BBC News and head of news programmes.  Stephen is the new chairman of the NCTJ Journalism Qualifications Board and said: "It is vital that we recruit young, bright talent to continue to move forward and reach our audiences and keep in touch with them. The work of the Journalism Qualifications Board is vital to help ensure this talent is harnessed and nurtured to ensure the future of professional, high-quality journalism."

Another important part of the forum was the sharing of experience of delivering the Diploma in Journalism.  Delegates heard from heads of journalism Roz McKenzie of Lambeth College and Richard Parsons of News Associates, who have both had graduating cohorts with the diploma.  Maggie Swarbrick, course director at the University of Ulster, explained her plans to introduce the broadcast module in September.  Lyn Jones, NCTJ head of qualifications, outlined further developments to the diploma including changes to the multimedia portfolio, the business of news and magazine journalism, as well as a summary of feedback from course tutors and students.

NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher, who chaired the event, ended the forum with a presentation of feedback about pre-entry training in the recent review of the National Certificate Examination. Editors and newly qualified senior journalists asked for more emphasis on: recruiting high calibre students; telephone interview training; the use of social media in newsgathering; Freedom of Information requests; and what makes a good story and where to find it.