Ignoring icebergs: The NCTJ and sinking ships.

It might be an iceberg but it's a minor in a court case so we ignore it.
It might be an iceberg but it's a minor in a court case so we ignore it.(picture from Ludovic Hirlimann on Flickr )

I’ve spent the day in the pleasent company of Journalists at the Middlesborough Gazette (some where from Newscastle) and I’m wondering what happened whilst I was training.

Did Hold the Front Page turn in the wayback machine.

Checking my email some of my work colleagues had been kicking around the HTFP story about an increase in applications to journalism degrees, despite the problems in the industry.

The story was one of my interesting links yesterday and I commented

I’m surprised by this or maybe students have got their head around what the industry can’t (and one or two of the comments on this piece make reinforce that idea) that newspapers/TV/Radio and journalism are not the same thing

The idea being that journalism was an intresting and valid thing to study. And, given the right course, would give you skills to do journalism rather than work for a newspaper or TV station.

So imagine my surprise when I read the following quote on another HTFP story today

Eastern Daily Press editor Paul Durrant told students that he “wasn’t bothered” about them having a degree.

Speaking at the second annual student council meeting, he added: “I’m bothered about NCTJ qualifications – I’m bothered about vocational training. I’m looking for maturity, passion and confidence.

“In terms of currency in the industry, I need to know someone’s got 100wpm shorthand, that they know what a Section 39 is.”

This was said at a meeting organised by the NCTJ where students could ‘meet the council’

I am genuinely amazed at the singular blindness a statement like this suggests to the broader problems in the industry.

Durrant may be bothered by these things. That’s his right as an editor. You could also argue they are important – I’m genuinely agnostic about this kind of thing now. But what else can he offer to anyone who takes him at his word?

As a senior journalist in the newspaper industry what security can he offer in return to a future journalist who is ‘bothered’ about staying in the industry?

Sometimes I wonder if the NCTJ has been running a secret training course – Pre-Entry newspaper editor, becoming captain of the titanic in 20 weeks.

Update: Over at Journalism.co.uk Dave Lee is asking for opinion on this whole debate as part of their Tomorrow’s News, Tomorrow’s Journalist section.

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