The Newspaper Society issued a reminder this morning that media accreditation has now opened for the Paralympic Games. The first stage of the process, called Press by Number, opened earlier this month and media organisations have until 28 November to complete a document to indicate how many people they would to request accreditation for.
There are more details and documentation at the British Paralympic Association website. Successful media organisations will be contacted early next year to progress their applications to the second stage.
The NS adds that it is currently working with regional and local newspapers and the British Olympic Association (BOA) to put in place a regional press pool for the Olympic Games, which runs a separate accreditation process.
The NS reports that the minister for sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson said he would write to the BOA about the matter after being questioned by MPs, but said it was “massively oversubscribed”.
He added: “There will be a level of public interest that I do not think we have remotely started to get our minds around. Spots will be tight, but I will absolutely do all that I can.
“There is a possible second channel for non-accredited media, and considerable provision is being made for those who cannot get formally accredited. The mayor of London has done an enormous amount to help that take place.”
Under the pooling system titles would be able to share material on the Games.
The assistant chief constable for the Lancashire police has assured the National Union of Journalists the force will not repeat the giving out of its own press passes in the way it did earlier this month, following a complaint from the union.
According to the NUJ the police force issued the local press passes for a demonstration by the English Defence League in Bradford.
Following the decision NUJ freelance organiser John Toner wrote in complaint to the force, and has now received a response from assistant chief constable Andy Cooke to say he “would like to reassure you, and your members, that we will not be issuing a press pass again for this sort of event”.
But he added the force will be asking for recognised accreditation into controlled zones or areas. John Toner responds to the news below:
This is a welcome response, and I have replied with copies of our leaflets explaining the merits of the UK Press Card.
I have also asked the UK Press Card Authority to seek a meeting with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) who officially recognise the Press Card.
We need to ensure that all police forces recognise the Press Card and provide access to bearers of the cards.
The forum also discussed the importance of the industry accreditation, which it claimed was “crucial for maintaining high standards and maximising employability in the face of spending reductions”.
Concerns about the impact of the education funding cuts on the journalism industry were also raised by the new cross-media accreditation board, which met for the first time in September, with members calling for the protection of accredited courses. Following the debate which ensued Journalism.co.uk began a poll to measure ongoing opinion on the value of the NCTJ accreditation. At the time of writing the majority (47 per cent) had responded that accreditation is ‘useful but not necessary’, while 27 per cent feel it is ‘unnecessary’. The remaining 26 per cent have split evenly between viewing the accreditation as ‘essential’ and ‘in need of updating’.
The value of industry body accreditation in journalism has been at the centre of debate this week, following a meeting of the NCTJ’s cross-media accreditation board last week, where members raised concerns about the impact of potential education funding cuts on the journalism industry.
Quoted in a report from the NCTJ Professor Richard Tait, director of the Centre of Journalism Studies at Cardiff University, argued that accredited courses must be protected in the face of cuts.
While the NCTJ is quite right to insist on sufficient resources and expertise so that skills are properly taught and honed, education is a competitive market, and NCTJ courses are expensive to run. In the likely cuts ahead, it is vital for accredited courses to retain their funding so that they are not forced to charge students exorbitant fees; otherwise, diversity will be further compromised.
Speaking to Journalism.co.uk about his comments further this week, Tait said he was voicing real concerns that courses which meet industry standards may be more at risk because of their expense:
There has been a huge expansion of courses about journalism and about the media, but not all of them are accredited. These are not real journalism courses, they are journalism studies courses. There’s nothing wrong with them at all, some of them are very good courses, but they are not a professional training of journalists.
It’s really important that whatever happens to journalism education we protect those courses that provide this professional training of the journalists of the future.
If you’re running a journalism course that does not have a digital newsroom, does not teach videojournalism or students how to report online or what podcasts are, what’s the use of that? Some universities have invested heavily in these areas. But when money gets short people will say “do we really need this digital newsroom, do we need to teach shorthand etc”. There is a danger of people saying “frankly bad courses might be cheaper”.
Just days after the meeting, Brian McNair, former professor of journalism at Strathclyde University and now working at Queensland University of Technology in Australia, happened to discuss his decision to pull Strathclyde’s journalism course out of NCTJ accreditation in 2008 in a post on allmediascotland. His comments, which were picked up by media commentator Roy Greenslade, have since prompted huge debate about the value of the body. In his post McNair said accreditation is not enough:
In a world where (…) the supply of traditional journalism jobs has fallen by as much as 30 per cent (and those that remain are scandalously low-paid), the high flying journalist of the future needs more than NCTJ certificates in Public Affairs and Media Law to get on. He, or she, needs talent, imagination, a spirit of independence, an understanding of IT and social networking and their impact on media, culture and society in general; everything in short, that the NCTJ curriculum squeezed out with its relentless stress on externally-decreed learning by rote.
Many, maybe most, successful journalists never passed an NCTJ exam. NCTJ-certified journalists are being sacked, perhaps as I write, sometimes by editors who sit on NCTJ boards and declare their allegiance to the “gold standard” of training. The old world of print journalism in which the NCTJ was formed is passing into history, replaced by content-generating users, citizen journalists and all those journalistic wannabees who make up the globalised, digitised public sphere in the 21st century.
But while Tait reiterated McNair’s call for talent to be the measure of a journalist, he insisted that accreditation is a vital tool for students:
The problem is that there are a huge number of courses which have got the magic word journalism in them. If you’re a student and you’re looking at this multiplicity of courses and trying to work out what one is up to a certain standard, that’s absolutely essential.
What you’re already seeing in journalism is that it is becoming a profession where who you know is becoming more important than what you know. It should be about talent. I think that if you don’t have the accreditation process, the rigorous approval of courses by accreditation bodies, how can the students work out what to do?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments or by voting in the poll below:
The Society says it has held talks with both the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and BOA to remind them how “uniquely placed” local media are to cover the event.
The NS has re-iterated that it is vital that the organisers of the Games should take full account of the particular role and needs of the local and regional press both in terms of those applying for full accreditation and in respect of non-accredited journalists, including as regards access to local venues and facilities to follow and report on particular athletes’ progress. The NS has also raised the issue of balancing broadcast rights against the needs of legitimate reportage on newspapers’ own websites, including blogs.
Applications for accreditation must be made using the downloadable form on the BOA website. According to the NS, accreditation for non rights-holding broadcasters is managed by the International Olympic Committee with application forms available in March next year.