Shorthand and good ideas high on wanted list, editors tell students

SHORTHAND, accuracy, media law knowledge and ideas for great content will get you journalism jobs, a panel of editors told student journalists at a conference hosted by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

Paul Coulter, from Glasgow Caledonian University; Rosemary Lowne, from Cardonald College; and Gillian McGee, from the University of Strathclyde, were among 42 students attending the NCTJ’s annual Student Council conference in London.

And among the five newspaper and magazine editors who took part in a question-and-answer session, shorthand was considered vital.

The editors were Brien Beharrell, editorial director, Newbury Weekly News Group; Jeroen Bergmans, editor, easyJet Traveller magazine; Graham Dudman, managing editor, The Sun; Dave King, editor, Swindon Advertiser; and Dominic Ponsford, editor, Press Gazette.

Said King: “Shorthand is number one.”

Added Dudman: “I want to know you can write 100 wpm shorthand, go to court and not muck it up and I want to know you can knock on a door to get a story. Five thousand word dissertations on a multi-media integrated society don’t interest me. I want shorthand and I want you to know your libel law.”

Ponsford said: “Fantastic enthusiasm is what I look for. Journalism is hard work and I look for someone really keen with good ideas. On Press Gazette we have a limited freelance budget, but if it is a good idea for a story, I’ll commission it. Good ideas will always get you work as a journalist.”

When it came to advice on getting a job, Beharrell said: “I’m always getting letters addressed ‘Dear Sir’ and they don’t get interviewed by me. A good journalist will always research and know who they are addressing.”

Dudman continued: “Send a CV that is no more than one page long – you’re not that interesting quite frankly. Keep it short, to the point.”