“Remarkable” we still have so many who still want to be journalists, says Society of Editors president

Watch the panel discussion here, courtesy of Bournemouth University students Tom Bennett and Jasper Taylor:

It is remarkable, given the “slings and arrows”, that we have so many who still aspire to be journalists, Ian Murray, editor of the Southern Daily Echo told delegates at the Journalism Skills Conference.

Ian, who was appointed president of the Society of Editors in November 2013, was speaking as part of a panel discussion on how the core skills of journalism are changing on Thursday, 28 November.

He claimed one of the great challenges to the industry was contending with the “rise of the press office”, and that the phrase he least wanted to hear from  his journalists was: “I’m still waiting for the press officer to get back to me.”

Ian said he wanted journalists who would “get out there and get the story” and warned that techniques such as Freedom of Information requests were not a substitute for investigative journalism.

The panel, chaired by Derby Telegraph editor Neil White, also included Rachel Bartlett, editor of journalism.co.uk, and Jake Wallis-Simons, features writer for the Sunday Telegraph.

Neil maintained the core skills of a good journalist were good story-telling, curiosity and time-management, a skill he felt many trainees needed to work on.

He added his paper’s biggest stories of the year, the Philpott case and issues at the Al-Madinah School, had been down to “old-fashioned contacts and curiosity”.

Rachel, who graduated from Bournemouth University in 2010 before going to work for journalism.co.uk, maintained the core skills remained the same as they always were but with the addition of learning to tell a story in 140 characters or fewer.

Jake said Twitter knowledge and web skills would not make a young journalist stand out from the crowd but the ability to produce a “great deal of writing to a high standard very quickly” would. He added students will “stand out if they are tenacious in their pursuit of a story”.