Shorthand still needed in the digital world says Archant London editorial director

Shorthand “still exists in the digital world” and is a skill that all aspiring journalists need, Laura Adams, editorial director of Archant London, told delegates at the NCTJ shorthand seminar on Wednesday.

In her keynote address, Laura highlighted the importance of shorthand for journalists and the great sense of achievement for those who attain 100 words per minute, despite what can be a “painful” learning process.

She said: “All journalists need their shorthand. Shorthand gives you the confidence to tell the story and acts as a platform to create the best work.

“At the beginning it seems like an impossible task but the big advantage I have is that I can now say, I’ve been there, done it. I have been through the pain.”

Commenting on the moment she passed 100 words per minute, Laura added: “I always remember that sense of achievement. It’s a vital tool to have.”

Laura, who completed her training at Cardiff School of Journalism and at one stage of her career achieved 140 words per minute, added that shorthand can also act as a useful ice-breaker when conducting interviews due to interviewees’ frequent fascination with the craft.

The annual seminar, held at The Wesley, London, played host to tutors and NCTJ shorthand board members from across the country and provided an opportunity to exchange ideas about shorthand. The event was supported by Pukka Pad, who donated shorthand notebooks for the delegates.

Items on the agenda included how best to motivate students, the transition from learning shorthand to using it in the workplace and the hurdles faced by students and tutors in shorthand lessons.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, delivered the opening address in which he also emphasised the importance of shorthand, describing it as a “fantastic tool” which is “totally and utterly” vital for journalists.

He stressed that editors still regard shorthand as a “key requirement” for job applicants, not only for regional journalism roles, but also for national newspapers and broadcast journalism.

“Shorthand is not an end in itself,” he added, “but a means to an end for journalists. It allows them to be more accurate, fight off legal action and ultimately become a better journalist.

“Why wouldn’t you want this terrific skill? It is, in itself, the gold standard for journalists.”

Picture: (L-R) Joanne Butcher, NCTJ chief executive; Laura Adams, Archant London editorial director; Bob Satchwell, Society of Editors executive director; and Marie Cartwright, chair and chief examiner, NCTJ shorthand board.