Course calendar

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Here is a great example of both the power of Twitter as a communication tool and why reporters and newsdesks not using it are missing out.

As raiders tried to relieve a local jewellery shop of its goods, citizen journalists sprang into action taking pics and tweeting from their mobile phones.

The Uckfield News records how reports of the raid started appearing in the Twittersphere within minutes, while traditional media lagged behind in reporting what was an important story for the area.

Key learning point for pro journalists? When stories break, updates and first hand accounts will probably be on Twitter first and knowing how to use hash tags to find the info and following the right people is now a key piece of underpinning knowledge.

Friday, March 26, 2010

New Times for old Times sake

All credit to the Paid Content website for getting a sneak preview of the new-look Times websites. All industry eyes will be following the fortunes of The Times and other News International titles who are scuttling off behind a paywall in June.
The initial design would appear to be more like a newspaper than previous web incarnations. Presumably with no need to chase passing visitors to boost unique user and 'time spent on site' numbers the imperatives of web design (plenty of teasers, links, two-tiered navigation, related stories etc) it would appear to allow a more printed newspaper-like approach. It's simple. And clean. But will readers be prepared to pay £1 a day or £2 a week?
Compare and contrast - in no more than 100 words please.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Essential Walter Greenwood

Walter (centre) receives his award from Olympic gold medalist Amy Williams and BBC presenter John Humphrys.

Congratulations to Walter Greenwood who received the Journalists' Charity Special Award at the British Press Award last night. Walter has saved the skins of countless hacks as co-author of Essential Law For Journalist and as a media law advisor. He was also co-founder of the Thomson Regional Newspapers training centre in Newcastle (which is now one of our training centres) and until last year was head of the NCTJ law board. He still marks our law exam papers. Press Association Training's media law trainer, and current co-author of Essential Law, David Banks said of Walter: "He has done more than anyone to keep the courts open to the press and to stop the erroneous placing of restrictive orders by misguided judges and magistrates. And to top it all he's a true gentleman and a fantastic mentor to generations of journalists."
It was also great to see one of our former trainees Jon Swaine on stage as part of the victorious Telegraph team. Jon trained in Howden on the first multimedia course that we ran for the Daily Telegraph and was a nominee for Young Journalist of the Year. Other former trainees who were nominated for awards were Guy Basnett, Andrew Gregory, Fiona Cummins and Sarah Tetteh. Finally, a special mention to Press Association photographer Stefan Rousseau who won Photographer of the Year. Well done to them all. Full list of winners. Boris Johnson's speech

Anyone fancy a kebab?

I'm sure when newspaper circulation departments gather up their papers and collect their bills for display outside newsagents, the last thing on their minds is whether the headline might be appropriate for the location. This bill from The Argus in Brighton made me smile. What's not obvious from the picture is that it's right outside a kebab shop.
It has to be said it's one of Brighton's better purveyors of the nations favourite after pub grub. I don't think the owners would have been too chuffed about the location of this particular bill.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fingers crossed for award hopefuls

The Daily Telegraph trainees, 2007, with Press Association Training's Mike Watson (left): Jon Swaine - in the blue shirt - is in line to win the Young Journalist of the Year award in the British Press Awards on Tuesday.

Good luck to all the nominees in the annual British Press Awards on Tuesday evening.We have three entrants in the Young Journalist of the Year Category and two nominated for the Showbiz Reporter of the Year award.

Potential young journalist recipients are:

Ex Newcastle foundation course delegates Guy Basnett, now with the News of The World who was a trainee with the Chester Chronicle when he was with us, before he moved to The Journal, Newcastle.

Andrew Gregory, The Daily Mirror, is also nominated. He was a Mirror graduate trainee who took our 16-week course.

And Jon Swaine, Daily Telegraph, was in the first intake of Telegraph trainees who took the training course we ran for the Telegraph three years ago in Howden, East Yorkshire.

The entrants in the Showbiz Reporter of the Year award are Fiona Cummins, Daily Mirror, who was also a Mirror graduate trainee and Sarah Tetteh, Daily Mirror, who was sponsored through the Newcastle course by Trinity Mirror South. The awards ceremony takes place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London. Walter Greenwood, former co-editor of Essential Law for Journalists, is to receive a lifetime achievement award at the same event. Despite being in his 80s, Walter still marks law papers for us in Newcastle. We are delighted his huge efforts in guiding journalists through the legal pitfalls are being honoured in this way.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

NCTJ backs London course

Great news for us that the NCTJ has decided to accredit our new London foundation course.
The awarding body’s board granted the award after an industry panel undertook a full assessment of the proposal for the new programme.
Securing accreditation was crucial before we could launch on August 30.
It means delegates will study for the full NCTJ syllabus and sit NCTJ preliminary exams as part of the course.
Our trainers have worked with them on our Newcastle course for a number of years and we are very pleased that the board recognised the strength of our proposal. It is quite unusual for them to accredit courses before they launch so this is a a clear indicator of the faith they have in us to deliver.
The panel remarked on the highly practical learning environment, its close link to the real world of journalism and most importantly, the fantastic track record of trainees securing jobs in the sector.
So we are now able to go full steam ahead for the launch. There is plenty still to do but this is a big hurdle out of the way.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Subbing down the subjunctive

Curveball question on a subbing course his week - can you define 'the subjunctive' clearly in one (or maximum two) sentence? All contributions gratefully received.

Friday, March 12, 2010

No escaping the iPad's Wow factor

Apple has now said the iPad should be over here by the end of April. The rumoured price is £499. Exciting times ... but what will it really mean for journalists? A lot more work? Another platform that they will need to learn? It will be particularly interesting to see how the regionals respond. As Peter Preston said in The Observer: "This isn't a revolution, let alone salvation. And it will surely be more diffused – and costly – as competition ploughs along the same road." Nevertheless, it is a huge step on the way to the genuinely portable newspaper. Take a look at these collated by The Guardian. We were particularly impressed by Sports Illustrated. Can't wait.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fact checking takes story off the radar

A nice win for good old-fashioned journalism is nicely told on Advancing the Story an American broadcast journalism blog.
The nub of the story was a rumour that US Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts was about to resign for 'personal reasons'. The story was published on the gossip site Radar Online. Respected news blogs including the Huffington Post and the Drudge Report even linked to it. But news organisations got their journalists to do what journalists are supposed to do. They checked their facts.
And guess what? It wasn't true. Here's an interesting anecdote from the blog:
That night, NBC’s Brian Williams told a black tie dinner in Washington, DC, that his network’s Justice correspondent, Pete Williams, had knocked the entire story down in about seven minutes. “Let’s just call it ‘primary sourcing,’” Williams said.
Turns out it was a hoax, set up by a law professor to illustrate to his students something about the credibility of informants. You can read the whole post here.
As the good professor said himself: “Information is easy. Facts are very tough."
The antics of The Yes Men, who managed to dupe the BBC over Bhopal, and more recently the Starsuckers who duped tabloids into believing various made-up stories, show that it's not just online gossip sites that can be caught with their metaphorical trousers down.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What now for Regional Press Awards?

The Regional Press Awards have been 'rested' this year. Press Association Training's Peter Sands, who is also chairman of the judges in the awards, explains why he is disappointed in the decision - and is soliciting your views on how they can be resurrected next year.

Book now for free live design seminar online

We are offering a series of free training masterclasses live on the web. The first of the 20-minute seminars will be How To Redesign A Newspaper. Peter Sands will talk through the redesign process, identify pitfalls, show examples and take questions. It will be live on the web, using Livestream Technology, at 1pm on Friday March 19. You can watch the seminar from your office or even from home but places are restricted to 50. If you would like to book a place contact Head of Press Association Training, Tony Johnston, on for details.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We're on Facebook

I was presenting to a group of International MA students recently and did an impromptu survey of social media habits.
Surprisingly, only two of the 14 used Twitter, one still used My Space and two, from China were active on a Chinese social networking site.
When I asked who used Facebook, all 14 hands shot up.
On that basis, it's about time that we had our own presence on there so today we have gone live with a Facebook page for our Foundation courses in London and Newcastle.
Hopefully it will become a network for past trainees to keep in touch. We love to hear about their various successes.!/profile.php?v=wall&ref=search&id=100000773756382

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's an apostrophe catastrophe

Some academics think it should be abolished, all greengrocers should be made to take compulsory training on its use, and most young journalists don't understand why we get so up tight about it. The apostrophe causes more confusion and cock-ups than almost any other punctuation in the English language. So here at the Pencil Sharpener we were heartened to see that there is a website dedicated to it's (sorry) its misuse.
Great fun for all those like me who feel like grabbing sign writers by the throat when they put apple's and pear's, off license and (one spotted in Brighton, I kid you not) 'two Italian bottels of wine'.
For those looking for a fun way to learn how to use the little blighter, there's a great flow chart from a one-man entertainment machine The Oatmeal (pictured) who does great humorous cartoons and illustrations about all aspects of modern living.