Junior minister Jonathan Bell MLA, opened the NCTJ Journalism Skills Conference in Belfast on 30 November with an address in which he commended the NCTJ.
In his welcome speech to delegates at the Europa Hotel Jonathan said: “It is a privilege to be here celebrating the NCTJ’s 60th birthday. I am delighted to welcome those who have travelled to sample some of the delights we have to offer in Belfast”.
Continuing, he discussed the relationship between journalists and politicians and said NCTJ training was crucial as it equips journalists with a knowledge of ethics and the law. He added: “Everyone starting out in journalism must have strong ethics in everything they do. That’s what we need to celebrate today.”
Jonathan was appointed as a junior minister to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister in May 2011. As a minister, he has joint responsibility for children and young people’s issues, older people’s issues, coordinating executive business in the assembly and assisting the First Minister with the discharge of his ministerial functions.
The junior minister stated that Northern Ireland had been at the centre of the media for the wrong reasons for years and he was glad this was starting to change. He paid credit to the recent European Music Awards which took place in Belfast last month and said he was happy the city had been broadcast to over 1 billion people around the world.
Jonathan was introduced by NCTJ Chairman Kim Fletcher, who had welcomed delegates to the Europa Hotel – famously the most bombed hotel in Europe.
Following the welcome address, delegates transferred to Belfast Metropolitan College for sessions on politics and the media, digital skills and technology and regulation and ethics.