Technology talk at the Journalism Skills Conference

The changing face of journalism was discussed at the digital skills and technology session at the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Conference on 30 November.

It was chaired by Alan Geere, editorial director, Northcliffe Media South East, who told delegates how he recently used social media to post a job advert for a position at one of his titles.

Alan said: “I asked people to apply for a job on Twitter using no more than 140 characters. I had tweets from people as far as Kuala Lumpur. The response was huge.”

The panel was made up of Davy Sims, former journalist and head of social media, Public Achievement; Thomas Hawkins, iPad journalist, Belfast Telegraph; and Jonathan Heggarty, head of school of electrical, electronic and computing technologies, Belfast Metropolitan College.

Davy is head of social media for the charity Public Achievement where he manages the WIMPS (Where Is My Public Servant?) project. WIMPS aims to help young people and politicians to connect and interact face to face and on the Internet.

Davy discussed how social media can be seen as damaging at times but said this should not be the case. Referring to the Tottenham riots in August he said: “Social media didn’t start the recent riots. There were riots 30 years ago and we didn’t have Twitter or Facebook then. All social media does is speed up the communication.” He also said that social media had changed the way journalists find stories. He added: “I wonder where we will find stories in 2020.”

Thomas, who started his career as a journalist with The Irish News, did a presentation about the difference between reporting for print, online and specific gadgets such as the iPad. The iPad edition allows for increased interactivity with the reader and also provides the opportunity to include breaking news stories in the same way as broadcasters. The Belfast Telegraph is currently the only regional newspaper in the UK to have a dedicated iPad edition.

Jonathan, who has extensive industrial experience in the fields of software development and systems engineering, spoke about how students nowadays have grown up with social media and explained useful ways in which technology can be incorporated into training.