Towards A New Journalism
“Seems like I've spent the last two years talking about nothing
else but the impact of new technology on journalism training.
Grinding away at fixed views that there's actually nothing new
except the technology and that the old journalism will see you
through. Well, cards on the table, that's rubbish.
Let's start with basic newsgathering – recognising a story,
checking it out, telling it well and safely are still core skills.
BUT ..... if at the same time you're not also aware of audio,
video, stills, mobile phones and websites, as well as print; if
you're not skilled in the different technologies required to
work in them, recording and editing, studio work, what story
lines will suit each, how to write for each, how to pitch each to
your editor, whether there are audio, video or stills available
to illustrate each, whether interviewees are available in audio
or video and when, what the deadlines are for each, how you
manage your time to deliver each and still, in effect, tell six
different stories well and safely, you're not much use to
the present-day employer.”
(Jim Latham, Secretary, BJTC)
In 2006 when we last revised the BJTC accreditation criteria, we spoke of the impact of new technologies on journalism practice and the likely prospect that further revision would be necessary. But it's fair to say that some of us failed to anticipate the speed of the changes and that, as early as 2008, the need for those revisions would have become compelling.
Industry practice has still not become standardised across all news organisations. Indeed it may never do so, given that the digital environment conveys an inherent scope for novelty and diversity in news production and news product. But what is already evident is what Jim describes above: the new technologies have facilitated the emergence of a 'new journalism', meaning both a recasting of the news agenda and significantly different ways of producing stories for public consumption - a consumption often simultaneously on a variety of different platforms. Journalists today must know how to reversion, write short form, archive, run blogs, and manage user-generated content - on top of everything they've traditionally done.
Excitingly, technology now enables the individual journalist to control the entire creative process of story choice and production – deciding the location, interviewees, research and archive material; recording and editing, filing to newsdesk and to archive – all as a matter of course,
“There's no conflict, in my opinion, between 'old media' and 'new media' -
we're now just 'one media'. I started my career typing copy on a manual
typewriter, now I embed video on my blog – but I'm still the same
journalist. The successful journalists of tomorrow will be the ones who embrace and exploit the changing technologies to provide a better service
to a news-hungry world. The fast-paced multimedia environment is an
opportunity for, not a threat to, journalism and broadcasting.”
(Paul Bromley, Viewers' Editor, Sky News)
While single platform publication is likely to persist in specialised, niche or small markets, the trend towards multimedia production is the dominant force. Even where this is not the case, the web-based sharing of ideas and information is driving legal and regulatory developments which have consequences for journalism in general and not just online journalism. Similarly a majority of news organisations, both broadcast and press, are nowadays producing for the online platform in addition to their traditional platform. This is affecting story selection and treatment in general and, again, not just online news production. Career-minded journalists must be equipped to cope with the demands of these changes.
A further development is the increasing industry demand for journalists highly knowledgeable and skilled in specific fields of journalism (e.g. sports, business, arts and entertainment, lifestyle, travel, property, motoring, health). The BJTC is witnessing a significant growth in training provision geared to producing these specialist journalists, and much of it is seeking our accreditation.
We are also keenly aware that employer demand for people with high quality journalism skills is no longer confined to news organisations but has migrated to numerable non-news sectors, such as public relations, corporate and government communications, and public information campaigning. The job market for the competent journalist has diversified and grown remarkably over the last decade, ensuring that high quality journalism training retains its strong “value adding” capacity.
The BJTC will continue for the foreseeable future to accredit a wide range of different training courses. But to enable us to respond flexibly to the changes, we are abandoning our previous method of assessing a course in terms of pre-designated categories. Instead we will insist on accuracy in each course's public description – it's Promise of Performance - such that trainees and employers know exactly what to expect. We will judge each course in terms of how well it delivers its declared focus and objectives, and how well those course objectives and its trainees are equipped to meet contemporary industry needs and standards.
“Phenomenal changes in technology happening at a breathless pace,
seismic shifts within the industry turning traditional models upside down,
extra-ordinary challenges to young people joining this multi-platform world
and to the educators who teach them. Nothing is sacred ... except professional
standards. That's why these BJTC criteria are so important. How else can we
try to ensure that newcomers can cope with new and constantly changing
demands .....never forgetting the basic need to be able to recognise a story, chase
it and use their language well?”
(Rob Kirk, Editorial Development Manager, Sky News)
The new journalism requires skills and knowledge which are both more extensive in range and more intensive in their application. Securing the industry-recognised kite mark of BJTC accreditation is accordingly tougher. But we hope that the following specification of our requirements and guidelines will make it nonetheless manageable.
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