Shorthand is here to stay, says editor

“Shorthand is priceless.” These were the words of Dave King, editor of the Swindon Advertiser, as he addressed the NCTJ’s annual shorthand seminar in London on Friday (5 June).

Giving an employer’s view to the shorthand trainers gathered, he also outlined how essential the skill remains, ‘even in this modern technological age’. With the immediacy of publishing online to multiple daily deadlines, the need for a swift and accurate note has returned, he said. “You haven’t got time to rewind your tape... Editors want journalists equipped with shorthand and in an age which is as litigious as ever, it is vital I can have confidence in my staff being able to go out on assignments and to take an accurate note.

"Shorthand is an essential part of a journalist’s armoury, that is a given. But what about the way we train and test our journalists and the standards we expect? Should they be re-evaluated?" Read his full speech here.

Marie Cartwright, chair of the NCTJ Shorthand Board and chief examiner, spoke about a project to modernise and update the shorthand exam to reflect current industry practice, during the event at the MIC Conference Centre in Euston. The recent Journalism Skills Survey highlighted the need for change, but reinforced the industry view that shorthand remains a core skill for all journalists.

Marie also talked about a new shorthand textbook she has written for the NCTJ, to help students get to grips with shorthand. NCTJ Teeline Gold Standard for Journalists will be published by Pearson.

During the seminar, delegates were brought up to date with key issues and developments in shorthand training, with a presentation on teaching and learning methods and preparing for exams by Pat Brand, shorthand tutor at the University of Central Lancashire.

The event, which attracts shorthand trainers, tutors and journalism educators from across the country, also featured a marking exercise to ensure that standards remain consistent throughout the UK.

Following the event, Mrs Cartwright said: “All the topics were well received and there seemed to be a lot of interest in everything we put on. Feedback gained from those who attended was very complimentary and positive.”