What is the value of journalism accreditation?

I recently presented a research paper at the annual Association for Journalism Education conference exploring the value of journalism accreditation to industry employers.

The findings, albeit on a small scale, indicate that employers are looking for individuals with writing and digital skills, work experience and an ability to hit the ground running, rather than a certificate stating they are from an accredited course or have a journalism qualification.

It must be noted that this research involved interviews with editors across the whole sector: TV, Radio, Online, Newspapers, Magazines from a hyperlocal, regional and national level. It also looked at all three accreditation bodies: NCTJ, BJTC and PPA.

It was not about recruitment into the regional press as this is no longer the established pathway into journalism for many graduates. It should also be noted that this research, funded by an AJE grant, was initiated in January 2014 and was completely independent of any accreditation that the institution I work for has, or is seeking.

Not surprisingly the findings have caused a bit of a reaction with lecturers under pressure to reluctantly accredit courses taking the results back to their institutions. Furthermore a story on regional newspaper trade website Hold the Front Page has caused some strong responses – both supportive and defensive.

But the reaction can only be a good thing, as it highlights the need for the topic to be discussed and evaluated. I am a graduate from an accredited journalism course myself and I am fully aware of my own institution’s drive to get courses accredited. But that doesn’t mean that as a researcher I shouldn’t be able to operate objectively and ask these challenging questions – after all isn’t that what journalists do?

You can find the slides from my AJE presentation here and an interesting and balanced response from Local World Regional Editorial Trainer Paul Wiltshire here. My full research paper will be published in the next edition of the AJE journal.

I discuss the topic in more detail in the video below.

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