NCTJ chairman on Radio 4

The importance of shorthand as a core skill for all journalists was the subject of a Radio 4 broadcast interview this morning.

Kim Fletcher, NCTJ chairman, was interviewed on the increasing importance of shorthand in a digital world by John Humphrys and Justin Webb on the Today programme.

In answer to the question ‘is shorthand still a core competency for journalists’ posed by Justin Webb, Kim Fletcher answered: “It is more necessary than ever.”

Kim said: “It is practical, if you have a shorthand note you can find the quote very quickly. If you have a tape recorder or a digital recorder you have an hour of tape to go through, but if you go in there with a shorthand note, you can find a quote straight away.

“The other thing about learning shorthand is it demonstrates a real dedication to the craft. In a day when so many people are jumping up blogging, calling themselves journalists, you go and take the trouble to learn shorthand it suggests you are serious about things.”

The full interview can be heard on the Radio 4 listen again website

The interview took place as part of Shorthand Week which takes place from Tuesday 10 November to Monday 16 November and also includes the launch of a new NCTJ textbook and fun shorthand events for students.

A new book NCTJ Teeline Gold Standard for Journalists by Marie Cartwright, NCTJ chief examiner for shorthand, will be launched at the Society of Editors’ conference at the Stansted Radisson Hotel on Monday 16 November.

Members of the NCTJ shorthand board have put together learning resources which are now on the NCTJ website such as how to hold a shorthand race, a shorthand crossword and an article about James Hill, the inventor of Teeline shorthand.

NCTJ accredited centres are now using these resources to host fun events for students.

Eleanor Bryans, shorthand tutor on NCTJ accredited courses at Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Strathclyde, said: “During Shorthand Week I have been further emphasising the need for shorthand for journalists. I have given my students the handout from editors, origins of Teeline shorthand and also practising journalists’ comments about the invaluable use of shorthand.”

Dora Johnson, shorthand tutor on the NCTJ accredited MA course at Nottingham Trent University, said: “The shorthand crossword is a good way to end sessions. I use it with everyone working in pairs, and I distribute a box of chocolates for the couple who finish first.”

NCTJ Teeline Gold Standard for Journalists by Marie Cartwright is available from the NCTJ's online shop.  Discounts are available for bulk orders.