Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Should professional journalists be certified?

Former Daily Mirror managing editor Anthony Delano asks in the latest issue of the British Journalism Review: "Might the time be nigh when professional journalists should be properly professionalised and have their status established by an agreed credential?"
He puts forward the idea at a time when he says there is confusion generated by "demon bloggers and other problems of the age of convergences,"as well as a lack of trust among readers about the stories published by newspapers.
Delano argues: "A form of licensing that a journalist would require in order to work at a certain level, and which bound them to agreed professional standards, might do something to re-establish trust in the newsmarket."
Delano, now a visiting professor at the London College of Communication, suggests: "One way that licensing might work could be a form of kitemark to indicate that a news operation adopting it recognised and accepted professional standards of journalistic practice."
He adds that the "standards" would be a commitment to accuracy, fairness and acceptable behaviour specified in existing code of conducts.
A crucial condition would be that a proportion of staff would be "certified" journalists. Delano suggests a regulatory body would be needed to confer the required credential, and could be drawn from the NUJ, NCTJ, the Broadcasting Training Council and the Association for Journalism Education.


Martin Belam said...

I thought we already had a professional set of journalistic standards and ethics that the British press claims to adhere to. It is called the PCC code...?

Russell Cavanagh said...

Such a proposition is as redundant as the argument about paywalls. All in all, anachronistic debates around a disappearing landscape.

Good editors will spot, edit and monitor writers who have anything interesting to say, whatever their background.

Que sera sera, whatever media chatterers might otherwise hope for!

(And I agree with Martin Belam.)

Donnacha DeLong said...

@Martin - The only problems with the PCC code are the consistent failures of the PCC to ensure that papers adhere to it and the PCC's refusal to back a "conscience clause" that would allow journalists to freely refuse to write something that breaches.

One Red Leg said...

The PCC lacks the respect of many in the industry and its failure to deal effectively with newspapers and journalists that breach the code of conduct it has helped lead to the lack of public trust in the press.
There may well be a code of ethics, but it is still necessary for the public to be re-assured that newspapers/journalists stick to it.
The proposition is not redundant if it is viewed as addressing professional standards in journalism - it is not specific to print only and could equally be used to create confidence in on-line journalism, where it is even harder to verify sources and authors.