‘Training is missing link in the media future’

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MAGNUS Linklater, the well-known Scottish journalist and a former editor of The Scotsman, said he felt training was the missing link in the media vision of the future.

“I cannot see where we get the expertise, training and experience that makes the media worth listening to and reading. That takes not only money, but time and dedication to train that new generation of journalists.”

He suggested some money from the citizen voucher system mentioned by Pat Kane could be siphoned off into training, “because that’s what’s lacking for me in the brave new world”.

Linklater added: “No one doubts that journalism is going to continue, or that there will be new ways of communicating with the public – and at the heart of it is the good journalist and the good editor who know the trade.”

Courtnay McLeod, director of the Scottish Media Academy, agreed: “We need to value media and we have to create future media professionals: we need journalists and we need them to be excellent.”

Although she accepted there was some good training, McLeod suggested that using new technology had been given too much prominence against old-fashioned skills such as finding a story.

And it wasn’t just those who chose to train for the profession who needed media training: the open web meant everyone was now a potential journalist, so the training had to be much broader, she argued. “Media is increasingly being practised by people in their daily lives, which creates huge challenges and opportunities,” said McLeod.

She argued that there was “not enough creativity and movement” in media education, citing issues including a lack of collaboration, a tendency to shoehorn creative subjects into old-fashioned structures, a red tape overload and a failure to appreciate the huge value of soft skills in the package.

“Media education cannot be passive processing,” said McLeod, and called for more learner-led education, with young people listened to much more before programmes are put together.