BBC announces plans for enhancing journalism training in the UK

MUMBAI: UK pubcaster The BBC has announced plans to take forward the recommendations from the Ronald Neil Report to develop a far-reaching training programme for the organisation's journalism covering BBC News, Global News, Nations and Regions and other relevant areas across the BBC.

The plans which were announced by BBC deputy DG Mark Byford who is also the chairman of the BBC's Journalism Board, include a doubling of investment in journalism training from £5 million to £10 million per annum by 2008, the appointment of a Director of Journalism Training, and the development of a virtual College of Journalism. It will provide interactive learning modules, workshops and seminars.

The BBC states that its plans represent a fundamental change in approach to journalism training. Aiming to establish a world class training function, the programme moves away from the idea of a residential college and aims to mirror the many innovative examples of journalism training in the US.

It will take the form of flexible and interactive learning, seminars, workshops and public events which will support the five editorial principles defined in the Neil Report. It will be delivered in BBC buildings or close to the workplace, with external training activity supplied through partnerships with training providers and with other international centres of excellence for journalism training.

In addition to the core journalistic craft and production skills which have been the mainstay of journalist training in recent years, the BBC's new College of Journalism will also focus on ethics and values, and knowledge building on key themes and issues such as Europe and the Middle East. The enhanced training is already underway. So far 10,000 members of staff have completed the BBC's online Editorial Policy course (the biggest interactive training initiative ever launched in the BBC) and 8,000 staff have attended special Neil workshops.

All journalistic staff in the BBC will be given a minimum level of training per year, and there will also be enhanced training at editor level in ethics, values and dilemmas. A draft journalism curriculum, underpinned by a competency framework, with a range of courses required at different levels of experience and seniority will be tracked for completion and will be integral to promotion.

The BBC also also plans to appoint a director of journalism training who will be a member of the BBC's Journalism Board alongside the deputy DG, the director of news, director global news, director nations and regions and the controller of editorial policy. It is envisaged the new post-holder will have an outstanding track record in editorial leadership and will demonstrate strong commitment to raising the standards of journalism training within the BBC to world class levels.

Byford said, "This is an exciting and ambitious training initiative which will, we hope, set a gold standard for broadcast journalism training in the UK. We want to offer our staff career-long training and development to support them in their dealing with today's complex journalistic environment, to maintain high standards and quality, and to support our aim to provide the best and most trusted journalism in the world."

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