NCTJ launches Journalism Skills Academy

The National Council for the Training of Journalists has today launched the Journalism Skills Academy (JSA), supported by the Google News Initiative.

The Journalism Skills Academy, which has also been backed by the Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, Minister of State for Media and Data, is a one-stop shop for journalists at all stages of their careers to develop their knowledge and skills.

The academy is centred on a new e-learning platform, which will deliver training activities including refresher sessions, qualifications via e-learning and short CPD courses. 

The NCTJ’s programme of webinars and in person training will also be run under the JSA banner.

Supporting the initiative, John Whittingdale, Minister for Media and Data, said: “High quality journalism is one of this nation's great strengths and through the pandemic journalists have continued to get trusted news and information out to keep people in the know.

“But to maintain the excellent journalism we benefit from we need people to have the right skills. The NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Academy will provide vital training to help journalists navigate news in a digital age, regardless of where they're at in their career.

"This is a terrific initiative and I encourage all those in the field to explore the opportunities on offer.”

The online learning platform hosts a range of free resources and activities, including video masterclasses led by experts and careers information such as CV and cover letter tips from editors.

Users can also log in to complete interactive quizzes to test and improve their knowledge of subjects such as media law and shorthand.

The JSA will also be the hub for all of the NCTJ’s distance learning programmes, including for the first time the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ), which for many professionals marks the transition from junior to senior journalist.

Journalists who do not have employer-led NQJ training available to them can apply now to study the qualification online through the JSA.

The new virtual academy has been launched by the NCTJ as part of a new initiative to scale up its training offer for in-work journalists, and to encourage a renewed culture of skills development across the news media sector.

Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ, said: “The launch of the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Academy marks a significant milestone in the charity’s development and the training we provide to support the UK journalism industry.

“Working with our partners, we aim to increase the range of learning resources available to journalists throughout their careers and to widen access to our training and qualifications.

“Although planned long before the pandemic, remote working and learning have made the vision we have for the JSA to revitalise a culture of ongoing professional development across the journalism industry even more vital.

“I’d like to thank Matt Cooke and everyone at GNI for the wonderful support they have given us to reach this point and to the NCTJ team for their outstanding work on this exciting new project.”

The initiative is supported by the Google News Initiative, which works with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age.

Matt Cooke, head of partnerships and training at the Google News Lab, said: “We're working with the NCTJ to help them launch this new digital hub for journalists working in news organisations across the country, broadening their access to essential training opportunities and new qualifications.

“We're delighted to support the Journalism Skills Academy as it evolves the NCTJ's crucial work to empower journalists throughout their careers.”

The e-learning platform hosts a range of short online courses designed to develop particular journalistic skills, including:

  • Fact-checking and verification, in partnership with Full Fact, the independent fact checking charity
  • Writing for the web
  • The essentials of media law

Bespoke training programmes can also be developed to suit specific needs.

Gavin Allen, head of news output at the BBC, said: “This is a cracking idea from a brilliant organisation which recognises that if you don’t skill up you may as well give up. Journalists aren’t just reporting on an ever-changing world but, like everyone else, having constantly to adapt to it.

“New platforms, new audience opportunities, expectations and demands, new formats, new technological innovations: here’s the chance to engage, learn and improve. And that’s surely what good journalists should always seek to do.”

Will Moy, chief executive of Full Fact, said: “We know bad information ruins lives. Fact checking and verification skills can sometimes be overlooked, but they are vital for modern journalists if they are to serve their audiences properly.

“That’s why we’re delighted the NCTJ has put fact-checking at the heart of its Journalism Skills Academy, and we’re proud to have contributed to this fantastic new resource.”

The NCTJ will collaborate with a wide range of partners as it expands the Journalism Skills Academy, and interested parties are encouraged to contact Will Gore, the NCTJ’s head of partnerships and projects, to discuss ideas for the JSA’s evolution.

For more information about the Journalism Skills Academy, click here.

Explore JSA’s e-learning platform now.