John Pienaar, Radio 5 Live’s chief political correspondent and presenter of Pienaar’s Politics, delivered an entertaining and informative keynote address at the NCTJ’s Public Affairs Seminar last Friday, 16 September.
John, who has reported from the heart of Westminster for two decades, both on Radio 5 Live and BBC television, spoke to the delegates about the media’s role in holding the government to account at a time when journalism itself is under the spotlight. His entertaining address contained numerous stories and anecdotes from his career, as well as analysis of the current political situation. He also referred to his NCTJ training, saying: “The NCTJ provides a solid background and the essential basic skills to become a journalist” and commented that the enthusiasm of his public affairs tutor, the legendary David Kett, still stays with him to this day.
The one-day seminar took place at the Local Government Association in London and was designed to bring delegates up-to-date with key issues and developments in public affairs. Other speakers at the event included; Ben Kind, public affairs and campaign manager at the Local Government Association, who spoke about the Localism Bill; Piali DasGupta, senior advisor at the Local Government Association, who spoke about local government finance; Tim Hamilton, a health communications consultant, who spoke about the new NHS structure; and Paola Buonadonna, press officer at the European Parliament, who talked about the European Parliament and its relationship with the media. Janet Jones, the NCTJ’s chief examiner for public affairs, also provided an overview of the new essential public affairs syllabus and assessments.
As well as learning from the experts, there was an opportunity to share ideas, seek advice, and raise any concerns about the NCTJ’s Essential Public Affairs programme of study and examinations with other tutors, members of the examinations board and staff.