Written evidence submitted by Leeds Trinity
& All Saints
This submission has been written by Catherine
O'Connor, Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Leeds Trinity and All
Saints. It has support from other members of the academic staff.
All staff profile details are included at the end of the submission.
Leeds Trinity and All Saints has been providing
post-graduate journalism training since 1993. The college established
its Centre for Journalism in 2001, launched its BA (Hons) Sports
Journalism in 2004-05, followed by BA (Hons) Journalism in 2006-07.
The 2009-10 academic year will see the introduction of a
further programme, BA (Hons) Journalism and PR.
The Centre has strong industry links and its
staff come from a variety of relevant industry backgrounds and
have substantial professional experience. Based on our experience
and knowledge of the local and regional media, we would like raise
the following points with the Culture, Media and Sport Committee:
Print journalism and broadcast journalism have
established and accredited training systems via the National Council
for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and the Broadcast Journalism
Training Council (BJTC). Leeds Trinity is accredited by both organisations
to run professional courses and, in the case of the NCTJ, the
associated examinations. This is a prestigious position which
is subject to industry scrutiny and which also brings industry
recognition and close working relationships with a variety of
news media, including a formal training partnership with the BBC
ahead of the relocation of key departments to Salford in 2012,
and an involvement with the Scott Trust (Guardian Media Group)
which is funding trainees on both the 2009 and 2010 postgraduate
Students who study both undergraduate and post-graduate
journalism have to comply with rigorous academic standards. At
undergraduate level, students receive a thorough grounding in
practical skills and would be ready to step into traineeships
which include the preliminary stages of the industry-accredited
training. At post-graduate level, students are trained in practical
skills to a level which meets professional standards and which,
in the case of print journalism students, ensures they have already
completed the preliminary stages of the NCTJ accredited training,
the Preliminary Certification in Journalism. The BJTC accreditation
awarded to the college is recognition of our compliance with the
high standards set by the industry for trainee journalists.
Traditionally, there have been adequate opportunities
in the local media for our postgraduate students, with our courses
boasting an employment rate of well over 90 per cent. Our
general experience is that students have often had jobs lined
up before the courses have finished. For example, out of 37 students
who completed the post-graduate course at the end of 2007, 31 found
employment as journalists. However, given the immensely challenging
industry circumstances, there have been fewer opportunities for
the students who completed the course at the end of 2008.
The difficulties currently facing the local
news media have had a significant impact on opportunities for
trainee journalists. Where many organisations would take on at
least one trainee a year, often more, they have now frozen recruitment
and, therefore, opportunities for graduates to enter the industry.
Established and long-serving journalists have also been made redundant.
The job losses in the industry mean that trainees
are pitched in at the deep end, often without the level of on-the-job
training and mentoring which took place in the past and helped
them build on the skills developed in college, although our intention
has always beenand will continue to beto ensure
that once the trainee journalists have completed the course they
are fully equipped editorially and technically to "hit the
ground running" on day one in the industry.
Over the last year, there has been a stream
of announcements about redundancies, cuts and office closures
in the regional media. The following link to The Guardian's website
gives an insight into the timing of those announcements and, therefore,
goes someway to establishing the scale of job losses involved
in the industry: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/nov/21/downturn-mediabusiness.
The global recession has impacted on the ability
of potential students to raise funds for their post-graduate studies.
As the 2009 cohort of students prepared to embark on post-graduate
studies at Leeds Trinity, a total of nine were forced to withdraw
from the course for financial reasons, including five broadcast
applicants from non-traditional backgrounds whose applications
had been carefully nurtured by the college in response to industry
demands for a more diverse talent pool. Four students also deferred
their place until 2010 for financial reasons. Those who do
secure funding often suffer severe financial hardship and experience
difficulties sustaining themselves through their studies.
Of those who do secure jobs, there is significant
anecdotal evidence that many trainees have limited opportunity
to get out of offices and flex their wings in terms of generating
news and practicing the public interest and community-focused
journalism which has traditionally been at the heart of the regional
media and, therefore, local democracy.
It is a concern that if this situation is allowed
to continue, key practices, important skills and fundamental values
which have been integral to the local media's role in democracy
will begin to die out. The importance of such skills cannot be
underestimated in sustaining the watchdog role of journalism,
in supporting the local media's ability to scrutinise, uncover
and expose and in giving it the power to campaign for results
on key issues.
Many local newspaper offices and commercial
radio newsrooms have been closed down, meaning that "beat"
newsgathering is no longer personal and localit is by telephone
and remote. For example, the Wharfe Valley Times no longer has
its head office in Otley. The newspaper is written and produced
in Leeds, more than 11 miles away. Offpeak news bulletins
for Radio Aire in Leeds and Viking FM in Hull are compiled and
read at Hallam FM in Sheffield.
The future of regional television production
is seriously under threat. Recent years have seen a dramatic reduction
in the range and diversity of regional programmes until all that
is left is basically a minimum news service and limited current
affairs. That in turn has resulted in a large number of jobs being
cut and there are clearly further cuts to come in the future.
Research currently being carried out into regional TV news at
Leeds Trinity (with Salford University) has found that the public
very much value regional news services and want more current affairs
at a regional level. In addition to affecting the viewers who
are losing out on an important and valued service, this has also
had a knock-on effect on independent production companies with
a reduction in the opportunity for programme commissions. All
this is making what has always been a competitive industry even
tougher to enter.
The change in working practices has the potential
to undermine the trust which exists between local media and its
audiences. For example, post-graduate print journalism students
at Leeds Trinity produce the North Leeds News, which is circulated
in the area around the college. Students go out from college to
cover events and meetings and get to know members of the local
community. This leads to a developing relationship and people
in the community begin to seek out students to pass on information.
Without this personal level of contact, it could not be guaranteed
that this vital exchange of information would take place. The
cuts in the regional media are making it increasingly difficult
for this important personal contact/relationship between journalists
and their audiences to be sustained in any meaningful way.
The time, opportunity and expertise to conduct
local media investigations, such as the Yorkshire Post's Donnygate
"scoop", are slowly being eroded. The Yorkshire Post
launched its investigation into Doncaster Council in 1997, helping
to expose the worst local government corruption case since the
1970s. The resulting court cases led to 21 councillors being
convicted of fraud and, in 2002, a senior councillor and the property
developer who bribed him being jailed.
There are some bursary opportunities to support
journalistic training (details of some can be viewed via the following
Not all of the bursaries run every year and
several have been established to support specialist areas of recruitment.
While some cover all costs, others make only contributions towards
fees or living costs. There is no doubt that access to funding
is the greatest barrier to increasing diversity in the pool of
talent being trained. We at Leeds Trinity know of many candidates
with the aptitude and potential to become great journalists who
cannot even obtain loans to pay for their training. Making student
loans available for postgraduate training would be the single
most valuable policy initiative the government could make towards
increasing diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints represented
by workers in the news media.
We are aware that Press Association has proposed
a "public service reporting pilot project" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jul/07/pa-trinity-mirror-trial).
This may go some way to addressing the issues outlined.
Given the level of debate over the future of
local media and over the possibility of public funding to support
local media and its democratic role, we would recommend that the
committee consider the following:
The democratic importance of sustaining
a healthy local media.
The importance of ensuring a continued
regional television news service on independent television, to
ensure a level of competition with the BBC.
The need to "feed" the system
with continuing opportunities for trainee journalists.
The extension of the availability of
student loans to include postgraduate vocational training recognised
by industry bodies such as the BJTC and the NCTJ.
Where new funding could be found for
a bursary scheme to support opportunities which further the role
of pubic interest reporting in the local media.
Whether sufficient is being done to support
training at more senior levels within the local media in areas
beyond the reach of colleges and professional training bodies.
This submission was written by Catherine
O'Connor, Senior Lecturer in Journalism. Catherine spent 15 years
working in the regional media before joining the staff of Leeds
Trinity. Her journalism career started as a reporter at the Halifax
Courier. Following a two-year stint on the newsdesk at the Yorkshire
Evening Post, she spent eight years at the Telegraph & Argus,
Bradford, where she was Deputy Editor. She is also an exam marker
for the National Council for the Training of Journalists.
The submission is supported by the following
Mike BestSenior Lecturer
Mike has experience from being a reporter through
to editor and he was Director of Broadcasting and Head of Regional
Programmes at Yorkshire Television for a number of years before
leaving to set up his own independent production company.
Lindsay EastwoodSenior Lecturer
Lindsay has experience both as a print and TV
journalist. She started her career in print over 18 years
ago and eventually moved into TV journalism on Yorkshire Television's
regional news programme, Calendar. At YTV Lindsay worked as a
producer, documentary-maker, news editor and on-screen reporter,
with frequent live location work.
Richard HorsmanAssociate Principal LecturerProgramme
Leader of Postgraduate Journalism (Radio and Broadcast)
Richard Horsman has more than 20 years'
experience as a radio journalist, producer and talk show presenter
in West Yorkshirefive as news editor at The Pulse,
the commercial station based in Bradford, and two as a consultant
to Real Radio (Yorkshire) where he established the station's
educational outreach activities. He was elected a board member
of the BJTC in 2005, and is currently active in a number of projects
to attract a greater diversity of applicants for radio and TV
Dean NaidooSenior Lecturer in JournalismProgramme
Leader BA (Hons) Sports Journalism
Dean is a multiple award-winning journalist
with more than 15 years of experience. He hails from South
Africa and won the coveted Commonwealth Press Union Fellowship
in 2003 to study for a Masters in International Journalism
at London City University. He has worked for a range of daily
and weekly national newspapers in the Independent News & Media
stable both in South Africa and the UKas an Entertainment
Writer, News Reporter, Sports Writer, Sports Sub-Editor, Chief
Sub-Editor, Sports Editor and Sports Director, among other roles.
Deirdre O'NeillAssociate Principal Lecturer
Deirdre studied publishing at The London College
of Printing after graduating and worked on a variety of journals
and magazines before studying for a PGCE and taking a job as press
and publicity officer in the marketing unit of a large FE college.
While there, she also lectured in journalism and communications,
and ran NCTJ training. Since joining Leeds Trinity & All Saints
she has been responsible for teaching and developing journalism
modules at undergraduate level. She also contributes to MA provision,
including the MA in Public Communication.
Susan PapeAssociate Principal LecturerProgramme
Leader of Postgraduate Journalism (Magazine and Print)
Susan is an award-winning journalist and writer
with more than 25 years' media experience. Her career has
included the positions of news reporter, feature writer and News
Editor of the Yorkshire Post; Lifestyle Editor of Wales on Sunday;
and producer at Yorkshire Television. As a freelance journalist,
she has written for national and regional newspapers and business
and specialist magazines. Susan has written, with Sue Featherstone,
two books on journalism, Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction
and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (published by Sage).
Susan is involved with the NCTJ and is an NCTJ NCE (National Certificate