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AJE: BJTC and NCTJ – a necessary, but unlikely, marriage?

June 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Training

“Just don’t mention the m-word – ‘merger’,” whispered my neighbour at Friday’s Association of Journalism Education (AJE) conference before we entered the final session on the role of the accrediting and qualification bodies and the future of journalism training in the UK.

Efforts to bring the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) together under a Joint Journalism Training Council forum are ongoing and having spoken to interested parties before, Journalism.co.uk has been told that while a single accrediting body is desirable, the two groups are very different beasts, with different structures and remits.

According to panellist at the event and BJTC secretary Jim Latham, the next meeting between the two bodies is scheduled for this week.

“We [previously] allowed ourselves to become distracted by some issues that shouldn’t have got in the way (…) There should only be one accrediting body, but the devil is in the detail,” conceded Latham.

Going forward, less focus will be placed on the differences between the groups – in particular the NCTJ’s revenue streams – and what can be done jointly.

Both BJTC and NCTJ representatives on the panel where cautious about giving a merger date.

“I think Jim and I are largely in agreement about a single body. How we’re going to achieve that remains open to debate,” said Joanne Butcher, director of the NCTJ.

Demand for a single accrediting body was challenged by some members of the audience, support by others.

“The world has changed the definition of what a journalist is. Convergence isn’t the future, it’s already happened,” said Tim Luckhurst, professor at the University of Kent’s Centre of Journalism.

“I only wish we could have one gold standard body (…) It cannot happen quickly enough. It needs to have a single set of exams. The NCTJ wants to make its mark – one way it could do this is by setting a single gold standard for journalism.”

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Media140: Twitter, newsgathering and trust

May 21st, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Social media and blogging

“We are putting a massive amount of trust in one platform here. Twitter is throttling this mechanism obviously for its own commercial ends (…) If we put so much of our newsgathering onto one platform we’re in real danger,” said Mike Butcher, TechCrunch UK editor, yesterday as part of a panel on the ‘140-character story’.

While much of yesterday’s Media140 conference focused on best practice and how journalists can use microblogging tools such as Twitter, Butcher and his fellow panellists comments were a warning to news organisations tempted to jump on a social media bandwagon.

As journalists, ‘we always want the next big thing, because it validates the fact that we’ve written about them’, said fellow speaker Bill Thompson, referring to his own experience as a freelance technology writer.

But, added Thompson, if ‘old media’ rules are applied too readily to new media, organisations will ‘miss the essential quality of what Twitter is doing’.

Some ‘old’ guidelines still apply, suggested BBC technology editor Darren Waters: “We cannot get into a world where the real-time web means the ‘not wrong for long’ era.”

Listening to yesterday’s panel the issue of the personal/professional divide when journalists enter social media or online communities – indeed how ‘social’ they can be on these platforms – is still a work in progress.
The BBC is still working on its editorial policy towards personal social media use by journalists (and after all ‘social media’ is not some fixed, homogenous lump) – it has set out some guidelines at this link – the corporation must consider its relationship with its audience and to what extent personal content is seen as representing the BBC.

But – as panellist Jon Gripton, senior editor at Sky News Online, suggested – in terms of following up reports on Twitter and social media, for example of breaking news events, the same journalistic attitude towards fact-checking and verification apply.

A mantra from Thompson: “I don’t believe anything I see or read on Twitter, it tells me where to go.”

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