Tag Archives: Kim Fletcher

NCTJ Journalism skills conference: Is shorthand ‘vital’ as a journalism skill?

The full results of the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) convergence skills survey are in under the fairly predictable headline of ‘you need old and new skills’ to survive in this journalism age.

But the study, which questioned 217 employers and 50 NCTJ-accredited institutions, did flag up some interesting skills gaps – cited by employers – between new recruits and employer expectations:

Here’s Paul Bradshaw’s video of the presentation of the results from the Society of Editor’s conference last month:

A combination of new and ‘traditional’ skills (finding own stories, use of language, writing, media law, shorthand, newsgathering, video, SEO) were all areas of particular concern for the 71 per cent of those employers surveyed who reported skills gaps among new entrants.

But it was the gaps in traditional skills that employers and educators saw as most important. As the NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher says in his intro to the results, a worrying gap in recruits’ ability to write shorthand was reported, a skill which is ‘as vital as ever’.

The above claim has already been causing some debate amongst twittering journos:

Is shorthand a ‘vital skill’ or just a handy one? It was part of my training and I find it useful for quick transcriptions, but there are growing calls for reporters to tape everything – something which has the added benefit of allowing you to post audio clips.

Excerpts from interviews conducted as part of the skills survey raise sound ideas on the whole – but are they really referring to shorthand when they mention important traditional skills? For example:

“It is a difficult task, but teaching the traditional skills must be maintained while cultivating multimedia talent as well – and both to a high standard. The traditional should not beĀ  downgraded to accommodate the ‘sexy’. The basics are needed for whatever medium is being used.”

(For me there’s still a slight hangover from the print (solid, traditional, credible) vs online (sexy, irreverent and all front) in the above…)

Educators reading this – what emphasis do you place on different skills and why?

New recruits and journos – in what proportion are you using the new and traditional skills you’ve learnt?