NCTJ Conference

A few weeks ago, myself and Matt Mcglone, another student from my course, were asked to report from the NCTJ Conference in Nottingham. Below is my write-up of the “Future Developments” section of the day – featured originally here.

During the final day of the NCTJ conference, a panel presented possible ‘Future Developments’ in the training of journalists. Quite fittingly this was also the day which Lord Leveson announced the results of his inquiry into Press Standards. As a 3rd year print journalism student just starting out in the industry, in my eyes, the two seemed to link almost perfectly.

From a student perspective, the opportunity to view these possible developments in the training of young journalists was extremely valuable. Personally, I will be taking some of the ideas presented back to my university course – the award winning Nottingham Trent. I also found the chance to sit amongst established journalists and members of the NCTJ very inspiring as in a few years’ time I might be in that same position myself.

Angela Merrilees, learning and development consultant at DC Thomson.
Photo copyright NCTJ.

From the presentations and subsequent discussions we had, the first development which seemed extremely viable was the continuing professional development which was presented by Angela Merrilees. Although Angela was not a journalist, she was in fact learning and development consultant for DC Thomson, what she spoke of applied to everyone in the room.

In essence, what she was describing was an on-going support and training system for established journalists throughout their career. In light of the Leveson Inquiry, I personally found this to be particularly important in terms of press ethics. For those in the industry who sat their NCTJ exams many years ago, possible refresher courses or in-house re-training would re-enforce their knowledge of their career and hopefully stop anything like what came out from Leveson happening again. Also, as I am in the process of sitting my NCTJ exams and I know how much they have taught me and my course mates about press standards.

Secondly, Pete Leydon and Ross Hawkes came to the floor to present Staffordshire University’s unique training programme of StaffsLive. This is a site which is essentially an actual news page, like the BBC online, for students to post their stories to the local community and receive live feedback. Whether it is day, night or the holidays, tutors are on hand to deliver feedback on students’ articles. This, accompanied with the fact StaffsLive now has a larger and committed audience, adds to the real-life practice that students get of working in journalism.

Ross Hawkes and Pete Leydon, Staffordshire University.
Photo copyright NCTJ.

For me, this seemed like an absolutely brilliant idea which could practically work across all NCTJ accredited courses. The actual experience of being able to run, upkeep and publish my stories to a live site while on my course is something which I feel I haven’t had enough experience of. Despite undertaking work placements, to do this on a daily basis would mean I would be fully prepared by my course when I begin my career after university.

Overall, I really enjoyed the conference, and the people I met and the talks I heard were an amazing experience.

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