NCTJ chairman stresses the importance of multimedia journalism skills

The importance of keeping up with the media industry’s digital revolution was stressed by Kim Fletcher, chairman of the National Council for the Training of Journalists, at the Council’s Annual General Meeting on 3 December.

Speaking at the AGM, where the charity’s annual report was unveiled, he said: “The convergence of media is happening in front of us. It's not a theory, it's a reality. Newspaper editors, broadcast executives, website managers want all the skills. We have to be a training body that reflects that."

When speaking about employment in the competitive industry, he said: “It’s tough finding a job in the media, but it's a little less tough when you have a qualification to offer. And a tough qualification at that: for many students and trainees the NCTJ examination is the first test of their lives that forces them to contemplate failure.”

The NCTJ’s formal record of activity throughout the financial year 2008-9 was published on the day of the AGM and revealed that a record number of trainees (565) sat and passed (303) the National Certificate of Examination, the qualification for professional journalists, while more student journalists than ever (320) passed their preliminary Certificate in Journalism exams while on course.

Joanne Butcher, chief executive, spoke about the new far-reaching programme of change that the NCTJ is currently working on, the development of the Council into a strong and well-equipped multimedia organisation, and the sharpened focus on the quality rather than the expansion of the accreditation scheme.

Commenting on the year ahead, she said: “The debate about what the core skills should be for multimedia journalists in this digital age will intensify. We will finalise our proposals for the most radical restructure our preliminary exams in recent times and will set up a new board to work to develop a multimedia accreditation strategy.”

Two more courses gained NCTJ accreditation in 2008-9, bringing the total to 68, delivered at 40 universities, colleges and private centres across the UK. The innovative new Certificate of Higher Education in Print Journalism at Glynd┼Ár University was praised as an “exciting partnership with NWN Media to provide part-time training at the university for company trainees and self-funded students.”

The report also provides a summary of the activity of the Journalism Diversity Fund, along with details of the talented students and trainees who won an NCTJ Award for Excellence.

Priorities for the Council in the year ahead are to:

• Broaden the NCTJ into a converged training body in order to deliver effective products and services for all journalists across all media sectors

• Develop gold standard multimedia journalism qualifications that are ‘fit for purpose’ and the respected benchmark of excellence

• Enhance, promote and support the high standard of education and training provided by accredited journalism courses and employers

• Take action to achieve greater diversity of journalists in the media industry

• Communicate effectively with all target audiences to increase awareness of the NCTJ’s brand values and core business.