The BBC and NCTJ have joined forces to create a bespoke training pathway to allow high-quality junior reporters to be recruited for Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) positions.
The BBC hopes the move will help attract a more diverse pool of high-quality journalists, while giving reporters a clear development path to keep on improving.
The NCTJ’s new qualification pathway will allow Junior LDRs to work towards their National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) while staying true to the LDR brief - providing impartial coverage of the regular business and workings of local authorities, and other relevant democratic institutions, for the benefit of all partner newsrooms across the UK.
Given the importance of the roles the recruitment of senior reporters to LDRS posts will remain the priority.
BBC funding for Junior LDR positions will be consistent with existing funding for Senior LDR roles, with the difference between salaries of junior and senior posts directed towards training costs.
Unlike other LDRs, the junior roles will need to be approved by the BBC.
The NQJ is the media industry’s professional qualification that examines all-round competence in a range of knowledge and skills at a level appropriate to a senior journalist who has completed a comprehensive training programme.
Junior LDRs must complete the Diploma in Journalism to ‘gold standard’, including 100wpm shorthand, and an 18-month training programme, before taking three NQJ assessments: an E-logbook; a media law and ethics online examination; and a practical skills-based online examination.
Lyn Jones, head of qualifications at the NCTJ, who managed the project, said: “We are delighted we have a robust and rigorous new pathway for local democracy reporters that sits alongside the NQJ for news, production and community journalists.
“I’d like to thank Jason Gibbins, assistant editor – Local News Partnerships, for working so closely with us on the development of the qualification and all the publishers and experienced LDRs who gave us feedback on the syllabus and assessments.”