News Academy Conference 2014 held at DFEi

25 November 2014
News Academy Conference 2014 held at DFEi

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News Academy Conference: Sam Roberts, PJ6

News Academy brought their tour of conferences to Dublin on Tuesday 25 November, with a visit to Dun Laoghaire Further Education Institute.
News Academy is an initiative of British newspaper group News UK, created with the aim of passing on knowledge to the next generation of journalists, ensuring a high quality of journalism is maintained in the years to come.
News Academy’s motto is “investing in the future of journalism”, and that commitment was obvious as students from many of Dublin's schools and colleges were in attendance, listening and learning from the panel of high-profile guest speakers drawn from several of Ireland’s major newspapers.
The conference opened with a debate on citizen journalism and the role of social media in journalism today, with audience members free to ask questions of the expert panel.
With an audience consisting largely of students and aspiring journalists, unsurprisingly many questions centred on the best ways to break into journalism. Cathal Dervan of the Irish Sun suggested that the most important thing is simply to “start writing”, while Justine McCarthy of the Sunday Times claimed that the most valuable piece of advice for any young journalist is “don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself”.
The panel were also quizzed on the role social media in modern journalism. Editor of the Irish Sun Paul Clarkson claimed that social media had “changed” journalism, and traditional media must look to stay relevant by “adding value” to news stories that surface online. Frank Fitzgibbon, Editor of the Sunday Times Ireland, suggested social media was the perfect way for young journalists to “get their name out there”, allowing them to publish their material to the world and establish a following.
After a brief lunch break, students were divided into groups and given the opportunity to interact further with the guest speakers, who visited each group discussing the realities of their day-to-day job, and answered any other questions the students had.
The conference wrapped up with a surprise visit from Tánaiste Joan Burton, who spoke at length on the challenges young journalists face when trying to break into the business. Mrs. Burton highlighted the importance of “personality” in a journalist, suggesting that while writing skills are of course vitally important, in her experience the most successful journalists are those with the most finely tuned social skills.
The Tánaiste was also happy to take questions from the audience, with topics ranging from citizen journalism to the government's implementation of the water charges. While fielding a question suggesting politicians are often singled out for abuse online, Burton described much of the content on social media as “poorly disguised abuse”, but added that, on the whole, the advent of social media has been a positive thing.