Course calendar

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The web/print divide still going strong

One of the biggest opportunities denied to most working newspaper journalists, is to develop new ways to display material on the web.
In our web training courses, we spend time drawing things to imagine how they might display on a web page.
We do it for a number of reasons; it stimulates creative thinking, sparks debate and highlights some of the gaps in expertise that will have to be filled if newspapers are to survive.
A simple example of this different way of thinking comes from
The Times map display of their hotel reviews. It's not big or clever, but it works. How many newspaper journalists do you know who could take the original content from the archives, design, build and then publish them in this form? And what does it say about the skills we have in the newsroom?
I had a conversation recently with a news editor about a great bit of web content. I complimented him and his team for a great bit of work. "Nothing to do with me mate," he replied. "Our web editor got it from a local blogger." Nuff said.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Tweet is a long time in politics

We are at the broadsheet Sunday Tribune in Dublin this week where the dominant story is a fascinating mix of old and new media - spiced up with a bit of sex and politics. It goes like this. Weekly newspaper the Limerick Leader interviews defence minister Willie O'Dea who falsely accuses a rival of running a brothel. He then denies saying such a thing in court. The Leader releases the transcript of the interview - and O'Dea is done up like a kipper. Remarkably he survives a vote of no confidence. But then the Government's coalition partners change their mind. How do we know? Their leader, Dan Boyle, sends out a Tweet, after the vote, which says: "As regards to Minister O'Dea I don't have confidence in him. His situation is compromised. Probably be a few chapters in this story yet." O'Dea resigns 24 hours later.
The story wouldn't have broken at all if it wasn't for traditional reporting by Limerick journalist Mike Dwane. And if it wasn't for the spontaneous reaction on Twitter, O'Dea may still be in office. It all serves as a reminder of why journalists need to use social media - there is a lot being said out there. But more importantly, it is a reminder why newspapers need to continue to invest in good reporting backed up by full transcripts (be they shorthand or digital).
Social media footnote: There is now a campaign on Facebook - mainly supported by women - to have the dashing O'Dea appointed the next President of Ireland. So far there are 424 followers.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Photoshop's 20th birthday

Happy birthday Photoshop ... 20 years old yesterday. Where would we be without it? Lots to enjoy on the web including Streakr and adobe tv. If you really have time to kill you can watch a full film of Thursday's 20th anniversary party in San Francisco (all two hours of it) on Photoshop 20th party. Even if you're not a geek the Russell Brown presentation is very clever.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Radio training pays off

Our radio skills training progamme, which is helping establish a community radio station in east Hull, is starting to produce some great results.
One of our trainers, Andrew Glover, has now completed two workshops with volunteers intersted in working on the Radio Musiker project.
The scheme is being funded by the Targeted Support Fund and the Transformation Fund.
Andrew has so far completed two training days with volunteers and for people with no prior experience of radio, the results are impressive. Click on the file below to hear an example of the content being produced.

There is still space on the training programme. For further information contact them on 07739 864430 or through their website.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Buy a new font and help Haiti

A new font has been created for Font Aid IV to benefit the people of Haiti. The font is made up only of ampersands - to represent people coming together to help each other. It only costs $20, less than £13. If every newspaper and magazine bought the font it would make a real difference. Details are at Typesociety. ALL proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders

Former Press Association trainee shows how to challenge court rulings

Claudia Tanner, not long out of our Newcastle training scheme, has shown the way for young reporters everywhere after she persuaded magistrates to overturn a court order to name a teenager convicted of grievous bodily harm.
The identity of 15-year-old Kyle Farrell, who pushed another youngster off a 20ft high sea wall leaving him with life-threatening injuries, would have remained anonymous but for the intervention of Hull Daily Mail reporter Claudia.
Claudia handed a note to the legal clerk at Bridlington Magistrates Court after Farrell was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm to a 14-year-old boy by pushing him off the sea wall in Bridlington.
At the time of the incident, the teenagers were with a group of around 20 youngsters who were tombstoning – a controversial pastime which involves jumping from large heights into the sea.
Claudia's note highlighted the fact that the victim, who landed on concrete steps after being pushed, could have died from his injuries which included a broken neck, fractured skull, a bleed on the brain and a punctured lung,
She argued that the order under Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act banning Farrell from being identified should be lifted as the case was a matter of public interest. She also cited the general principle of open justice with appropriate case law to back it up.
Claudia said: "I was ready to argue that Farrell had committed a serious offence and I had also been told by the detective in charge of the case that the boy's mother was very upset and wanted justice to be done, which could be argued involves naming and shaming the offender.
"But the judge asked no further questions and quite quickly decided that it was a serious enough case to warrant the naming of Farrell."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

World's best designed papers?

The world's best designed newspapers were named this week. Two of the top three are German, all are big read newspapers with traditional titlepieces, serif display and have swathes of space to play with. There isn't a tabloid or compact to be seen. Equally scarce are any advertisements. The winners, chosen, from 240 entries, are der Freitag (Berlin), Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, and The New York Times. It's a real accolade for der Freitag which is a weekly with a circulation of 12,400. Take a look at the pages in detail on Flickr on Society for News Design and let us know what you think.

London course launch

After months of planning, we are finally going public on our proposal to launch a new foundation course in multi media journalism in London.

Our Newcastle course has been in existence for 41 years and will continue to run twice per year.

The London course will be a mirror image and provide a route into journalism for those who prefer to train in the south east.

It will be based in the Press Association training centre which is just one floor below the main PA newsroom offering those attending the course a unique opportunity to learn new skills at the heart of a major international media business.

This new course is a great addition to our portfolio and we look forward to welcoming the first cohort on August 30th this year.

We hope to be able to annouce the course's accrediation by the NCTJ shortly,

For more information see TJ

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mail trainee advert

Advert for Daily Mail/MoS trainee reporters is in The Guardian today You will need a CV, six cuttings and a 200-word article on why you want to be a Mail journalist. You can send applications in writing or via email to

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shocking statistic ...

... from Peter Preston in the Observer. Number of working journalists killed on duty through the noughties: 725.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Daily Echo captures cup violence

Good piece of on-the-spot video from the Daily Echo in Southampton

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mail looking for trainee reporters

The Mail's reporters' training scheme will begin at the end of August. An advert is going in Media Guardian on Monday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mail subbing training scheme runs again

For the last seven years the Daily Mail has recruited trainee subs, sent them to Press Association Training for five weeks intensive subbing training, followed by a secondment to a big regional newspaper. If they make the grade, which the vast majority do, they land a sub's job at Northcliffe House. The scheme is running again this year and the Mail is recruiting now. The advert was in The Guardian on Monday Mail training scheme.
The closing date is March 5. The reporters training scheme, which began two years ago, is also running again.
Details soon.

Wrongly-named pop golfer needs a friend to get him out of this Premiership mess

It's hard to disagree with the excellent Fleet Street Blues blog that this from Liverpool Confidential is possibly one of the worst pieces of journalism seen so far this year. They defy anyone to understand what this story is about.
A TERRIBLE mix-up has left a city Premiership football club “red faced” and a newspaper denying all knowledge after the wrong pop star didn't play at a school in Liverpool. Following the success of American folk legend James Taylor's circus workshop at St Sebastian's primary school, Edge Lane, last month, and womanising champion golfer Sam Taylor Wood's appearance at a film premiere here last November, education bosses were “keen” to celebrate being the most improved council in the county with a series of low key cultural concerts in city schools.
If you need some help you can read the full post here:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Same difference?

A friend has just asked me what's the difference between a blog and a website. Until today I never had a problem answering. A new Blogger feature has thrown a spanner in the works. But more of that later.
There are probably three things that distinguish a blog from a website:
1. Personality - blogs are personal. They can be instructive, educational, entertaining, useful, annoying or (often) pointless, they belong to somebody and are a reflection of who they are. Perez Hilton's celebrity blog is a case in point.
2. Interactivity - some blogs are conversational. Some are controversial. Some are funny or sad, and some, like The Pencil Sharpener are a source of information, expertise, entertainment and discussion. Even The Drudge report which at first glance looks like a random collection of links, relies heavily on involvement from visitors who suggest relevant articles for posting on the site.
3. Navigation - Blog posts are displayed chronologically, with the newest item first. Until recently this, the use of tags or labels, and an archive feature were usually all the tools you were offered to find your way around.
Peter Sands, fellow Pencil Sharpener blogger, has brought to my attention the new 'pages' gadget on Blogger. We can (and will) now add some extra navigation to specific pages or themes. Is this the beginning of the end of the static, stand alone website as we know it?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Good luck to the editors ...

... from the Daily Trust who have spent two weeks at our offices in London. They have learned everything from the subbing masterclass and the editor's chair courses with Peter Sands, Jonathan Grun, Tony Johnston and Andy Drinkwater and we have learned a huge amount about Nigerian newspapers and culture. They fly back tomorrow to 35 degrees and a group that believes first and foremost that good journalism sells newspapers. Good luck to them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ex-trainee watch

Good to see Sathnam Sanghera from the Times in the Press Gazette's poll on the UK's Top 50 comment journalists. Sathnam was at the Editorial Centre in Hastings (now part of Press Association Training) in the 90s.
The PG had drawn up a strong list of commentators
Matthew Parris, Simon Jenkins, Quentin Letts, and Polly Toynbee are joined in the top 5 by Jeremy Clarkson,who was voted for by the public but not by any journalist on the panel. Journalists out of step with the readers, who would believe it?
On our list, but not on the PG's are:
The Grey Cardigan (Press Gazette) - compulsory reading for all journalists. Sums up the industry in a way that others fear to tread.
Charles Sale (Daily Mail Sport) - continually breaks stories that would make the back page. Needs a bigger show.
Lucy Kellaway (FT) - does a first class job lampooning the excesses of management-speak.
If there are any other notables missing from the list let us know and we will give them a mention.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Canon 7D could be a video star

We’ve been training non-broadcast journalists on video cameras for more than four years now and were the first UK training company to see the importance of print journalists being able to shoot video.

Most of our early courses focused on equipping writers with the ability to use a video camera. The thinking was that photographers were too busy capturing stills to think video and carrying more kit just wasn’t practical.

Slowly, over time, though, more and more photographers came on our courses. What they lacked in video know-how they made up for in the ability to spot was works visually and what doesn’t.

I’ve just had a chance to see first hand a camera that will probably have all stills photographers now being asked to shoot video drooling with delight.

The Canon EOS 7D looks like a digital SLR, feels like a digital SLR, takes the highest quality still photos like the best digital SLRs and just happens to shoot broadcast quality video too.

Some of the results being achieved are quite stunning and to switch from shooting still to video all you do is flick one switch.

Skywalker Ranch from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

It does have some downsides which those used to more traditional video cameras won’t like.

The audio options are limited and the viewing screen you have to use when using the video option is embedded in the back of the camera and will be hard to see in bright sunlight. It’s heavy too and you’ll probably need to use a tripod all the time.

But photographers used to the look and feel of a traditional camera body will love it, and it will mean them carrying just one piece of kit not two if they are asked to shoot both still and moving pics.

Our video trainer, Christina Fox, a broadcast cameraman never more than a few feet from a Sony Z5 or V1 was so impressed she bought one. Praise indeed. Read her full review here.


The journalist of the future

At Press Association Training we are constantly reviewing our course offering to meet the demands of the changing market. One of the biggest challenges is understanding how needs are changing - particularly with the communications industry in a state of almost constant change.
There is still strong demand for traditional skills, news writing, story-gathering and subbing for journalists; while the PR and communications industry is still keen to learn about the basics of sending a press release or planning a campaign.
New research would seem to indicate that the media is in a similar quandary in terms of what skills they want from their recruits. An American publication that goes by the splendid name of Journalism & Mass Communication Educator has just completed a study into what 'traditional' and 'non-traditional' media employers want. These two excerpts would seem to suggest that a much broader range of skills is now required to carve out a successful media career. In between the Americanese there are some useful insights:
Traditional news media were still most interested in hiring new employees with nontechnical routine expertise,” such as solid writing skills, working under deadline, editing, teamwork and communication skills, and Associated Press Style. About equally, however, they also were seeking employees with “technical routine expertise,” such as content posting and management, image editing, blogging, video editing, and social media knowledge.
...and in 'non-traditional' news media?
Nontraditional online news media were as interested in nontechnical routine expertise as traditional news media, but less interested in routine technical expertise (perhaps because they assumed new employees already had such skills or that they could be easily taught). Instead, nontraditional online news media were significantly more interested in hiring employees with adaptive expertise, such as knowledge outside journalism/mass communication, creativity, independent and critical thinking, leadership, and problem-solving abilities.

This would all suggest what we've been saying at Press Association Training for some time now, that the journalist of the future will need to have a much broader range of skills and more importantly a much better grasp of how the world is changing around them.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Regional Press Awards looking positive

Pleased to report that the Regional Press Awards look likely to go-ahead. Last year some newspapers felt going to London to celebrate was inappropriate against a background of cost cutting and job losses. Clearly, without the support of the big regional players, the awards couldn't survive. This year though there has been a positive response - a sign that things are getting better. The awards date is likely to be in June. We will let you know here when anything is decided.