Friday, 21 May 2010

What skills will you need to thrive?

What skills does the modern journalist need? Well, on some papers, The Sun and News of the World for example, the ability to turn in a well-told tale at speed and have the rat-like cunning to bring in regular exclusives is still enough. I have just finished interviewing trainees for the Daily Mail where we were looking primarily for writing skills, ideas, toughness and self-motivation. But elsewhere, particularly in the regions and at papers such as the Telegraph, print journalists have had to develop new multimedia skills in video, podcasting and even broadcasting. My colleague Tony Johnston (above), who heads up Press Association Training, was one of the speakers at yesterday's Westminster Media Forum, where he outlined the skills he believes tomorrow's journalists will require. These include:
  • Numeracy to allow better use of freely available data
  • Technology to allow journalists to control the means of digital production
  • Enterprise skills to help find ways of making journalism pay
You can read what he said in the Press Gazette and on the Pencil Sharpener. 
I have long believed that some journalists will also need to develop a database mentality and to understand how marketing works. It is crucial though that the new skills do not dilute the essential role of the journalist - there is no substitute for original and interesting content. Anyway, as a result of all of this, Press Association Training is developing a new range of courses and adapting some of our existing programmes to ensure that trainee and established journalists can gain the skills they need. Your contribution to this would be appreciated. You can leave ideas here or on the Press Association Training blog, the Pencil Sharpener, or email me on
Other posts about yesterday's forum include:


  1. Graham Lovelace has responded with a plea to "keep shorthand on the training curriculum, in spite of the iPhone era!" Couldn't agree more. It remains an essential part of our courses. Although a news-editor recently told me that a driving licence is just as important.

  2. Shorthand is essential and should be a core subject for all courses. Also law.

    However, having had a number of work experience through from the local university I have been increasingly disappointed at the lack of practical skills they have from writing to interviewing.

    My fear is that writing skills, essential be it broadcast or print, are simply overlooked in some cases. And when they are taught to write my concern is that they are told to do so to such a structure they can't break out and take a different approach to an article sometimes.

    I fear this has happened at my local university because some of the staff are too long out of an industry that is evolving constantly.

    Thankfully courses provided by the Press Association are able to help break people out of the boxes they have been stuffed into at an early age. Sadly a lot of talent at a younger age is not being nurtured in the right way.