Picture: Chris Elliott, readers’ editor of the Guardian and NCTJ accreditation board chairman.
The NCTJ’s cross-media accreditation board met for the first time on 8 September 2010, at the Guardian in London. It considered what is most important in journalism pre-entry training today and re-accredited six successful courses.
The board is made up of leading industry figures and course directors. Its objective is to accredit high-quality courses that produce employable skilled trainees. Board members will develop the industry standard, evaluate NCTJ courses that are up for re-accreditation, recommend accreditation for new courses and recommend withdrawal of accreditation for those courses not meeting the standard.
Editors in attendance at the first meeting, which was chaired by Chris Elliott, readers’ editor of the Guardian, included Andy Cairns, executive editor of Sky Sports News, Paul Connolly, managing editor of the Belfast Telegraph, and Graham Dudman, managing editor of The Sun.
Chris Elliott said: “NCTJ students and trainees are on the path to being good journalists and can work across any medium and are highly employable. Editors know that NCTJ-accredited courses produce trainees with the fundamental skills for the newsroom. Even more importantly, students are not short-changed.”
The editors in attendance agreed unanimously that NCTJ training provides today’s journalists with exacting professional standards required in the newsroom. They emphasised that all editors should work with the NCTJ to promote accredited courses more vigorously.
Training representatives who attended the meeting included Tom Hill, course director of Up-to-Speed Training, Robin Staniforth, director of the centre for broadcasting and journalism at Nottingham Trent University, and Richard Tait, director of the Centre of Journalism Studies, Cardiff University.
Representatives from the universities expressed concern about the future of funding for vocational courses. Richard Tait explained, “While the NCTJ is quite right to insist on sufficient resources and expertise so that skills are properly taught and honed, education is a competitive market, and NCTJ courses are expensive to run. In the likely cuts ahead, it is vital for accredited courses to retain their funding so that they are not forced to charge students exorbitant fees; otherwise, diversity will be further compromised.”
Further issues discussed included the need for course applicants to always be interviewed and tested before course places are offered. Board members also emphasised the importance of shorthand, and agreed that all students should strive to reach at least 100wpm to stand the best chance of getting a job. Graham Dudman said that journalism qualifications were “not worth the paper they’re written on if they didn’t have shorthand”.
Board members agreed that work experience was an essential part of a student’s training while on course, but that after their training, job seekers should not work for nothing. Members also thought the NCTJ should make graduates’ success of getting jobs in journalism an even more important benchmark of course accreditation.
Finally, board members also debated the pros and cons of specialist courses such as sports and science journalism, which are often popular with students but may not necessarily cover the fundamentals.
Established courses which have achieved NCTJ re-accreditation are:
· Cardonald College
HNC/D Practical Journalism
NCTJ Practical Journalism (day release)
· Glasgow Caledonian University
BA (Hons) Journalism
MA Multimedia Journalism
· News Associates Wimbledon
20-week/40-week Newspaper Journalism
· Leeds Trinity University College
MA/PGDip Print Journalism
Members of the accreditation board are:
Chairman: Chris Elliott, readers’ editor, The Guardian
Joanne Butcher, chief executive, NCTJ
Andy Cairns, executive editor, Sky Sports News
Paul Connolly, managing editor, Belfast Telegraph
Graham Dudman, managing editor, The Sun
Cerys Griffiths, editor, television news, BBC North West
Tom Hill, course director, Up-to-Speed Training
Dave King, editor, Swindon Advertiser
Michelle Patient, head of accreditation, NCTJ
Robin Staniforth, director of the centre for broadcasting and journalism, Nottingham Trent University
Michelle Stanistreet, deputy general secretary, National Union of Journalists
Richard Tait, director of the Centre of Journalism Studies, Cardiff University
Joy Yates, editor, Hartlepool Mail