An MP and award-winning blogger firmly backed the NCTJ to deliver quality journalism training in a multimedia age at the Journalism Skills Conference.
Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South, is well known in political circles for embracing the opportunities presented by the internet by daily updating his award-winning blog And Another Thing, voted the best blog in Westminster and Scotland by Total Politics Magazine. NCTJ-trained Tom gained his qualifications as a reporter on The Paisley Daily Express.
Opening the Journalism Skills Conference at Hampden Park on Friday, Tom said: “It’s no longer a case of being a press journalist or broadcast journalist, specialising to some extent in your chosen field. Nowadays you’re expected to do it all, including the technical aspects.
“For one story, a single journalist could be expected to produce a live minute-by-minute account of a story as it unfolds; followed by a full news report written for print and online publication and possibly even a piece to camera to be uploaded with the news report onto the website.
“Can you imagine that being able to happen even a few years ago?”
Tom added: “Journalism – the serious profession of news gathering, investigation and reporting in a fair, balanced and objective way – will never die. Yes it will change and it will take knocks along the way. But one indisputable fact will ensure its survival: we need journalism. It’s as essential a part of a free, democratic society as the right to vote.
“I have no doubts at all that the NCTJ is up to the task of training that new generation of journalists and making sure they are equipped to face whatever challenges are thrown in their path.”
Tom spoke of his own NCTJ training and the pride he felt that Glasgow has become a centre for NCTJ accredited courses.
Tom said: “ I will be forever grateful to the NCTJ and to people like John McLunan, for allowing me the opportunity to get an invaluable training, first at college and then as an employee of Scottish & Universal Newspapers, at the East Kilbride News and the Paisley Daily Express. I’m not alone.
“A couple of weeks ago I was sitting with Tony Carlin of the Evening Times at the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards, reflecting with him how many of the most senior and respected Scottish journalists today began their careers, not only on local newspapers, but under the guidance and training of the NCTJ.
“As an NCTJ-qualified journalist, a self-confessed new media technophile and a Glasgow MP, it gives me an enormous sense of pride to know Glasgow is paving the way forward for journalism in this new multimedia age.”
The MP also praised the NCTJ’s recent efforts to promote shorthand as a relevant skill for journalists in a digital age.
Tom said: “It’s an easy skill to pick-up and invaluable in its usage. I take the old-fashioned view that a handheld recorder is no substitute for shorthand. Thanks to the NCTJ, that and the other basic news gathering skills are being taught and are being learned, and all the technology in the world cannot compensate for their absence.”
In his speech Tom Harris also commented on the Press Complaints Commission raising the prospect of regulating blogging the need for all journalists to embrace new technology.