Rupert has no chance until everyone joins the paywall revolution

The man with a stubborn plan

Everyone likes Alan Rusbridger don’t they? (Hi Alan, love your work) The main man at the Guardian is seen by many of us helpless, stumbling foals in this turbulent time in journo land as the shining light, the thoroughbred who will guide us….alright I’ll stop it now he has a lot to say about the future of journalism and a lot of people like what he says. Well, the pantomime villain of journo land, Ol’ Rupert Murdoch, can’t be such a big fan because it is Rusbridger and others in positions of influence that are stopping this paywall business being big business and becoming the future of journalism.

Red tops get pricey

As the News of the World website stopped serving us free exclusives for us to gorge on, and put a big debit card-operated lock on the fridge door I began to ponder, as many other writers have, on all this paywall business and that poor old Rupert just hasn’t got this one quite right has he? (Don’t listen to those haters though Rupert, I think you’re a top bloke.)

I can honestly say I have never been on the News of the World website (don’t scoff, I’m telling the truth) and sadly I will never know what treats I have been missing out on now the paywall has gone up. On this occasion my missing out on something isn’t because I’m a tight git, I am just not going to pay for something when I can get it for free elsewhere. Common sense really isn’t it? Any of the hot gossip or salacious celebrity titbits can be found on other paper websites; Rupert’s other red top, The Sun, for example. Bizarrely the free site had a link to its expensive sibling the other day…something not quite right in the PR department there.

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Privacy or press freedom? Journalism needs to juggle both

Last night, at City University London, a distinguished panel of journalists and lawyers debated the extent to which a reporter should go to in order to get a story. The discussion was in light of the continuing investigation into the News of the World’s supposedly routine hacking of phones. Here, The Student gives his tuppence worth.

Andy Coulson

Former NOTW editor Andy Coulson is at the centre of the continuing phone hacking investigation

Phone hacking is, in essence, the eternal discussion of where privacy ends and public interest begins. Those who believe that phone hacking is immoral and has no place in journalism generally believe that privacy should be preserved. Others who feel hacking is legitimate normally say people in the public eye should be accountable for their actions because of the influence they hold.

I come down somewhere in the middle. I don’t believe that reporters should not have to obey the law 100% of the time and feel there are occasions when finding sources for a stories by illegal means is permissible. History has certainly shown that the best journalism is often a product of unethical means. Watergate and the recent expenses scandal, which the Telegraph broke on the back of acquiring a stolen disk, demonstrate that acting unethically has it’s rewards. From a journalist’s point of view,  big stories, the ones that shake society to the core, do not magically appear. And I’d like to think that a large proportion of the public would also want newspapers to use whatever means necessary to get a story which has far reaching implications.

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We must wait and see if NCTJ is still industry standard

Roy Greenslade has flagged up an interesting point in his latest Guardian blog. In short, he questions whether university journalism courses need to be accredited by the National Council for the Teaching of Journalism (NCTJ) and, citing the example of the University of Strathclyde (who withdrew from the NCTJ in 2008), asks whether the course actually provides the skills for the ‘journalists of the future’.

Journo Students

This is particularly pertinent to the Wannabe Hacks as myself, The Chancer and The Detective will be starting journalism masters at City University next week.

City (as Mr Greenslade points out in his article) is not NCTJ certified.

In the year or so before applying to study journalism at City, I had to weigh up whether it was better to study a postgraduate course at a non-NCTJ accredited institution (like City, Goldsmiths or Westminster) or to do a short course NCTJ qualification and supplement that with work experience. In effect, I was torn between what I was told was the national standard for journalists – the Michelin Star for journalism courses – and what I thought would equip me with the skills to be a top-class reporter.


One question that I had, and that many young journalists may have too, is whether or not having an NCTJ qualification would affect job opportunities in the future. My answer would be probably not.

National newspaper generally don’t deem any journalism qualifications essential and, although some local newspapers editors swear by the NCTJ and will not employ anyone unless they have passed it (the editor of the North West London Newsquest titles told me as much), it’s not a hard and fast rule.

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