Sky News digital chief discusses digital revolution at NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference

We need journalists who are passionate about journalism and who are creative in how they tell a story, Sky News head of digital products Andrew Hawken told an NCTJ conference.

Speaking at the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Conference at the BBC Academy in Birmingham, Andrew said he had surveyed key figures at Sky News, including head of news and NCTJ board member John Ryley, and he found responses focused on two themes.

“What comes through very strongly is that passion for journalism and story-telling is still absolutely essential. You have to be curious and interested in the world around and want to find out interesting things, tell stories and get the facts right,” Andrew said.

“Creativity comes through as a very strong theme – new ways of telling stories – that’s now new. The basics of journalism still apply as they did when I started out in 1983.”

Andrew recounted his experiences as a regional reporter on the Reading Evening Post while working towards his NCTJ exams, before going on to work for the BBC’s Today programme, Microsoft and his current employer, Sky News. He described how “everything has changed” over the past three decades.

Andrew said the main changes he had seen during his career could be divided into four areas: the rise of smartphones, the increase in social media usage, traditional media producing live coverage and the increased importance of video. Delegates were shown clips of the different video formats used by Sky, including the Sky News general affection song, featuring political leaders, which achieved millions of hits on Youtube.

Sky News were investing in making what their content original and distinct, and the organisation is “optimistic” about the future of journalism.

He said: “The way people consume news is changing and news providers need to change be everywhere for their audiences.”

Pictured: Andrew Hawken, Sky News. Photography by BBC Academy/Mark Robertson