Why journalists should learn something new every day

Between the two of them, they reckon to have spent around 70 years in journalism.

When it comes to digging out stories, they have few equals.

But making the most of our web content system and maximising the potential of social media has been slightly more of a challenge.

Now, though, after what they dub one of my ‘golden oldies’ sessions today, they’re attacking these with greater confidence.

On Friday, I helped one of the most experienced reporters on a daily paper to brush up on her web skills, while earlier in the week, I spent a morning helping more reporters and subs with decades of service to get better at social media, scheduling and law.

So, while today my thoughts have been very much with three of our youngest reporters as they took an NCTJ diploma exam – hopefully helped by a training day organised last week – some of my most satisfying and successful sessions have been with people with many more years under their belts.

Which is nice to report after comments made by NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher last week about the lack of ongoing training for journalists.

He said, according to a report on Hold the Front Page: “We are still really bad as an industry at doing anything after the trainee point.”

By and large, he’s right, of course. Even though I’ve been inadvertently and unwittingly making it my business to prove him wrong over the five months that I’ve been doing this job.

In that time, I’ve tackled subjects – with the help of some of my colleagues – from underperformance to video, Facebook to feature-writing, design to data, story selection to SEO and copyright to council coverage.

Yes, some of the 20 trainees I’m responsible for have been at some of these sessions and 121s. But the vast majority of participants have been fully qualified journalists of some years’ standing.

At the heart of my job is the belief that we will only attract and retain the very best talent if we ensure people develop in their roles.

Next year, we’ll be setting up a programme for the editors of the future, bringing in expert speakers to open talented people’s eyes to motivation and management techniques, entrepreneurship, problem-solving and cutting edge digital thinking.

That course I ran for our trainees featured contributions from some of our most experienced writers.

One of them – one of the best reporters we have in our region – was unafraid to say that he was still learning all the time.

I want that to be true of everyone.


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