Journalism Skills Conference 2019 day two: digital journalism and the varied jobs landscape of NCTJ graduates

Attendees at the NCTJ's Journalism Skills Conference in Sunderland have been told that journalists need to better understand the behaviour of their audiences, the platforms they use and tailor their content accordingly. 

Digital journalism was a focus on day two of the  conference, which started with a panel on social and mobile video journalism. 

“If you think you are going to have a one-size-fits-all policy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, well good luck,” said Tom Platt, digital editor at Reuters Video News.

He added: “When people go on YouTube, they are there to consume content. If they are on Twitter, they are just checking a few things at a bus stop. 

“You should be able to go into an interview and be able to tell them the difference between how Channel 4 does a Facebook video and how the BBC do one for their app.”

The panel also gave the audience tips on how to improve audience engagement with videos.

Kristian Johnson, live news reporter at LeedsLive, said: “In a video clip, the first three seconds are absolutely vital.

“People invariably come across your content when they are scrolling through a feed and you need to capture them.

“People like to see a face - and you must have captions because a lot of people are watching without sound.”

How best to monetise digital journalism remains a challenge for publishers and a panel discussion around the power of podcasting conceded that listeners do not expect to pay for podcast content.

“We have to accept that people won’t pay directly for podcast,” said Andrew Musgrove, who hosts the ‘Everything is Black and White’ podcast for the Newcastle Chronicle. 

He continued: “It has value to the company, to the brand. We now have a sponsor for our podcast and that’s one thing you can do.”

Day two of the conference was also a chance to discuss the changing job landscape for NCTJ graduates. 

On the panel, there were speakers from organisations as varied as Church of England and tombola. Wherever their career path had taken them, the alumni were united in one belief:

“The NCTJ was my passport into better wages and better opportunities,” said Eve Powers, a former News Associates student who now works as a digital communications officer at Diocese of Manchester.