Technological changes are rapidly progressing in the journalism industry and it is a challenge for universities and colleges to keep up to date with the latest training skills. Cultural changes in the news room need to migrate to the classroom whilst maintaining the Gold Standard quality of the historic profession. The NCTJ seminar held at the Press Association last week was therefore a welcome insight for tutors trying to keep pace with digital journalism.

A range of guest speakers from local, national and international media organisations discussed their use of social media, multimedia and building interactive communities. Here are the key points from the guest speakers of the ‘Integrating digital journalism skills into training’ seminar:

Andrew Hawken, head of digital media, Sky News (@skyhawken)


  • Software engineers are now fundamental to the success of media organisations
  • Editorial and technological experts are merging
  • Sky News thinks more about Facebook and Twitter than about their own website
  • Social media should be viewed as an “internet connected device” not a separate platform
  • Technology should be combined with journalistic excellence and quality

Stefan Stern, former Financial Times columnist and Edelman director of strategy (@stefanstern)


  • There is not one way of doing thing anymore, it is about being interconnected
  • The fundamentals of reporting and accuracy cannot be dropped or skated over in the digital age
  • There is a blurring of boundaries between professional and citizen journalists – the challenge is for professionals to be different and better but also embrace new media
  • Twitter is a great leveller and journalists should not think they are too mighty to respond to their followers – it is better to be a receiver than just a transmitter
  • You have to trust your employees if you want them to be trustworthy – don’t ban access to Facebook
  • There is no longer a line between professional and personal identity on social media, it is a question of personal taste and judgement
  • Web 2.0 is a great big experiment – you won’t find the good stuff without making a few mistakes along the way

Fergus Bell, senior producer Associated Press (@fergb)


  • “I ride the Twitter wave and see where it takes me”
  • Use social media to monitor the competition, find sources, compliment content and find UGC
  • The standards of journalism and verification are exactly the same, the people online are real
  • If we have a camera at an event I won’t look for UGC, our crew will get better footage but if there is a delay in getting there I will look for UGC
  • Use lists on Twitter to organise your data, but keep some lists private so not to tip off the competition
  • Verify the source before verifying the content
  • When searching for UGC think about the language spoken in the country where the event has happened

Ian Reeves, director of learning and teaching, University of Kent (@cfjkent)


  • Apps allow for new ways of storytelling specifically targeted at the app market
  • The use of apps is rapidly increasing in the marketplace
  • App sales in 2011 were $15bn
  • Predicted value of iPad app market in 2012 is $5bn
  • Designing apps is an expensive and time consuming process
  • New Corp’s The Daily app cost $30m to set up, Angry Birds cost $140,000
  • When designing an app you have to buy a licence and often have to pay a monthly publishing licence
  • Limited amount of free app design software available but is a facility within In Design
  • Once apps are published to the market place there are costs involved

Alan Marshall, group managing editor, Press Association (@alan1marshall)


  • Digital is being integrated into the agency as a whole rather than being a separate function
  • Traditionally PA had silos of skills with separate teams: words, pictures, videos
  • The trend has now moved to a multi-skilled newsgathering team
  • Reporters are equipped with stills cameras as clients want pictures with every story rather than stock photos
  • Video and photo journalists also cross training
  • Multi-skilling enables: flexibility in covering stories, greater breadth of coverage, reaction to on the spot moments, efficient use of our teams
  • We don’t expect reporters to take pictures of same quality as our photographers but it is about getting the first picture and being more responsive
  • There is still room for craft specialists
  • Multi-skilling is also needed for production journalists such as: meta data, web links, curating content
  • PA still files text content first as the wire remains its core service

Chris Maguire, editor, Chorley and Leyland Guardian (@ifthecap)


  • Chorley and Leyland Guardian beating national trend and growing sales 6.8% despite having just 4 reporters
  • Networking enabled the newspaper to get an iPhone app developed for free
  • We cannot get to every court case, council meeting or street corner but we reach readers via social media
  • The people who work for the newspaper include Google Alerts, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • The organisation is using social media to reach readers who would not normally buy the newspaper
  • The strengths of social media: free to use, builds brands and relationships, gives you a bigger voice, helps you find stories, reaches an audience instantly
  • Twitter is: army of ears and eyes, cross promotes the newspaper, targets a younger audience, instant information, feedback, stories
  • Social media is no substitute for shorthand, knowledge of public affairs and law, ability, writing skills and meeting people
  • Social media skills are not optional they are a must

Laura Oliver, community coordinator, Guardian online (@lauraoliver)


  • Job role is to be a reader representative, build relationships with readers on and off the website, set the tone for threads, test ideas, listen to feedback
  • Reader relationships help to keep the Guardian accountable but also can lead to editorial and commercial opportunities
  • All about giving the reader better access to complex stories and looking for gaps in the Guardian’s coverage
  • Important to give something to online communities and to link them back to the Guardian
  • Skills of community coordinator: building contacts, news sense, spotting trends, analytics, working with news room, understanding social media and how to build an online community from scratch