Publication - Minutes

Public Interest Journalism Working Group minutes: 12 May 2021

Published: 19 Jul 2021
Date of meeting: 12 May 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 12 May 2021.

Published:
19 Jul 2021
Public Interest Journalism Working Group minutes: 12 May 2021

Attendees and apologies

  • Stuart Birkett, Highland News and Media (SB)
  • Richard Bogie, News Scotland (RB)
  • Simon Cuthbert-Kerr, Scottish Government (SCK) (Chair)
  • Rhiannon Davies, Greater Govanhill (RD)
  • India Divers, Scottish Government (ID) (Secretariat)
  • Rob Edwards, The Ferret (RE)
  • Jonathan Heawood, Executive Director, Public Interest News Foundation (JH)
  • Hans Marter, Shetland News (HM)
  • John McLellan, Scottish Newspaper Society (JMcL)
  • Joyce McMillan, independent journalist (JMcM)
  • Emma Meese, Independent Community News Network (EM)
  • Hazel Parkinson, Scottish Government (HP) (Secretariat)
  • Allan Rennie, University of Stirling (AR)
  • John Toner, NUJ (JT)
  • Frances Rafferty, NUJ (FR)
  • John Toner, NUJ (JT)
  • Denise West, Media Consultant (DW)

Items and actions

Welcome and approve note of last meeting

The meeting was chaired by SCK. The list of attendees is available in Annex A. Apologies were noted from RH. It was noted that TF has decided not to continue being a member of the group due to her workload.

The group were informed that the minutes and remit for the group were now available to access online. Amendments were noted to minutes from previous meetings. A summary of amendments is available in Annex A.

Action: officials to make amendments to the minutes of 14 April and 28 April.

Action: group to discuss definitions of ‘public interest news publishers’ at future group.

Discussion with David Martin, Skills Development Scotland

David Martin (DM) provided a comprehensive overview of media education in Scotland at school and college level. He noted that the journalism sector tends to value people with degrees. HNC and HND qualifications in practical journalism (shorthand option) also provided routes into formal employment in the sector.

It was noted that much of the educational provision pre-degree level was based on national vocational standards which had been developed in partnership with industry

It was raised that the ability to access courses was limited to people by geography and availability as some people may not be able to travel to access journalism courses. It was queried whether this had changed due to a shift to online learning during the pandemic.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Scotland’s Creative Industries was seen as a big issue and that many young people do not know where to find journalism jobs. The question of “how do young people see journalism?” was raised.

My World of Work provided a career information portal to young people. A vocational focus in educational courses could help support employability. Skills alignment and educational investment were needed. NUJ Scotland set up a schools media centre programme with SDS support.

Foundation Apprenticeships provided an opportunity for young people to meet employers and practitioners earlier in their careers and included a placement element of 6 to 8 hours. The Creative Digital Media Foundation Apprenticeship included content around factual-journalism skills and may be able to be utilised to achieve an output of greater understanding of public interest journalism among young people.

Modern Apprenticeships provided a fixed period of employment. The Creative Digital Media Modern Apprenticeship included an integrated journalism pathway within this framework that included National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) certification. Graduate Apprenticeships were a defined programme for those undertaking degree level study and allowed employers to train up talent within their workforce or bring in new talent.

Other schemes discussed include the Flexible Workforce Development Fund, National Transition Training Programme and the Fast Track Work Skills Programmes in Financial Services and Data Science.

The Creative Industries Sector Skills Assessment was conducted in 2021 and provides an assessment of the economy, employment, vacancies, job openings, and current and future demand.

There was a need to inform and engage young people in the breadth of jobs available as they did not always know how to go from school to the industry unless they had connections in the space. There was a need to make current information more dynamic and consider creating additional resources and support materials. It was noted that this should be led by young people and facilitated by industry. The question of how to get rural and local press involved was raised.

The group agreed that succession planning was important for the future. There was a need to address the societal and economic issues around who gets the jobs.

The group felt that there was scope in the Graduate Apprenticeships in business and data to link in with journalism as these skills were needed to set up as a publisher. Entrepreneurial journalism came into this discussion and the skills needed to set up a own business and not rely on a publisher for employment. It was noted that there was an opportunity to package something in relation to these courses. There might be opportunity to get something on the curriculum – such as is the case in Wales. The group felt that in order to create engaged citizens of the future, pupils needed to learn how to look for reputable news sources and know what information to trust.

It may be useful to package data skills for people who are trained in journalism and have lost their jobs so that they reskill and get new jobs. The group felt that teaching social media and podcast skills were useful

The group felt that it was important to make sure new people could enter the sector but also important to retain the highly skilled workforce.

The question of how independent publishers and hyper-locals could tie into the work SDS were doing was raised.

Action: officials to circulate DM email with group.

The point was raised that apprenticeships could be used for development and did not necessarily have to be for new-starts or young people. There was perhaps an opportunity to bring pre-apprenticeships together with Kickstarts.

It was noted that there was still big cultural gaps between freelancers and those employed by orgs. In the future a large section of the workforce will be self-employed. The group felt that it was important for self- employed/freelancers to have good rights and pay. There was a need to be more structural discussion about people who want to be self-employed and what skills are suited to this kind of career. SDS were conducting a major piece of research looking at the impact of the pandemic on the workforce, most of which was freelance.

NUJ Training Scotland involved media literacy projects and a lot of training for journalist, improved podcasting skills and an MA in Digital Journalism. It was noted that NUJ Scotland were at forefront of skills development and that SDS relied on the union for partnership.

Action: FR AND JT to send DM information regarding NUJ Training Scotland to look at.

It was raised that the Creative Industries Leadership Group (CILG) were looking at the skills needed for a creative workforce and how to create a resilient creative industries sector. The group felt a clear industrial voice was needed to communicate why change was needed. The parallels between journalism and Creative Industries was noted. It was acknowledged that journalism was recognised as a Creative Industry under “publishing”

Action: ID to ensure links are made between the work of the CILG and the Public Interest Journalism Working Group.

Discuss the Kickstart scheme and the Young Person’s Guarantee

An overview of the Kickstart Scheme and the Young Person’s Guarantee was provided. The group noted the prevalence of portfolio careers and felt it was important for people of all ages to be able to fit into support schemes.

The group agreed that there were a lot of training systems that exist but it was not obvious where to find information about it to know it exists. It was raised that the proposed foundation could potentially have a role in supporting the visibility of training and access. This mini-recommendation would likely form part of a broader foundation recommendation if this is decided upon by the group.

Action: group to come back this idea when they discuss the remit of the foundation.

Action: HP and ID to create draft potential recommendations on the topic of skills based on the discussion and circulate with group. (21/05/21 – This will now be drafted after the discussion on role of a Foundation takes place).

Action: include skills in the discussion of the role of a potential journalism foundation.

Summary of actions

  • officials to make amendments to the minutes of 14 April and 28 April
  • group to discuss definitions of public interest news and public interest news publishers
  • officials to circulate DM email with group
  • FR AND JT to send DM information regarding NUJ Training Scotland to look at
  • ID to ensure links are made between the work of the CILG and the Public Interest Journalism Working Group
  • group to come back this idea when they discuss the remit of the foundation
  • HP and ID to create draft recommendations on the topic of skills based on the discussion and circulate with group
  • include skills in the discussion of the role of a potential journalism foundation

Amendments to previous minutes

The minutes of 28 April should be amended under Item 4.13 to note that membership of ICNN could be one of a number of criteria, not the only criteria for approving websites to be used for Scottish Government advertising. The minutes of 14 April should be amended under Item 8 to state that the proposed journalism foundation may not be only a forum of public debate and it was noted that it was important not to pre-judge any recommendations which may be formed. It was raised that the definition of ‘public interest news publishers’ should be clarified so the group will need to discuss this further in due course.