Friday, May 30, 2008

Shorthand - no short cuts

Sanity appeared to prevail in the lively debate sparked by Charlie Becket’s Polis blog on the future of shorthand teaching.

He reported on a London College of Communications validation meeting at which the relevance of shorthand teaching was questioned. The debate got a bigger airing when it appeared on Martin Stabe’s Wired blog. Thankfully, most of those who joined in were student journalists who took themselves seriously and were adamantly against the suggestion.

What worries me is that it was on the agenda at all? It is a core skill and one of the few that can’t easily be learned on the job. I’d question the credentials of anyone in education who thinks otherwise.

The only thing that interests me as an employer is not whether someone has shorthand, or even whether they use Pitman or Teeline - but how many words per minute they have.

Tape recorders are fine for sit-down interviews but are not relevant to day-to-day newsgathering. Reporters should use them like subs use spell-check.

And I’d never employ either if they couldn’t work without them.

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