CIRCOM REGIONAL in conjunction with Council of Europe and The Thomson Foundation with financial support from The Government of Luxembourg


Kosice, Slovakia, May 20th - 31st 2002


In May we moved onto Kosice and nine days of television journalism training immediately before the CIRCOM Conference.

The training was conducted at the Centrum Hotel with a total of twenty-five participants from ten member countries, six trainers, five technicians and a workshop administrator. Finance was provided by Circom Regional member stations, the Council of Europe Stability Pact Fund supported by the government of Luxembourg, the Council of Europe Human Rights Media Division and the Thomson Foundation.

There would have been more participants but for five cancellations immediately prior to the course. Budget restrictions also limited the numbers. To balance this point, however, the trainers felt that the course was able to provide more effective and relevant training to the smaller number of participants.


The trainers were Ian Masters, Controller Broadcasting Thomson Foundation; Hans Jesson, ARD Berlin; Didier Desormeaux, France 3; David Nelson, BBC Midlands; Karol Cioma, Project Manager, Thomson Foundation. The trainers welcomed a first appearance of Laurence Houot who was kindly released by France 3. Course administration was provided by Kathy Nelson.

The technicians were Gerard Le Couedic, France 3; Ivan Ujhazi, RTL Hungary; Roger Mulliner, UK; Malcolm Owen, BBC Wales; Julian Minkov, Bulgaria.


The training was designed to appeal to television journalists who wished to upgrade their reporting skills. In the view of the organisers there are problems in some areas of European journalism. Those areas centre on packaging, "thinking in pictures", writing for television, presentation, interviewing, pieces to camera (standuppers), ethics, working as a team, news selection, multi skilling, use of graphics and planning. The course was designed to cover these areas.


The method of training concentrated largely on "hands on " practical exercises, workshops, discussion groups and lectures. Other than the first day all remaining eight days included major hypothetical and real story telling operations. The main group of twenty five participants was split into five teams of five journalists thus providing maximum contact with each person. This was the first time at the main annual training workshop that DV cameras and non linear editing equipment had been used. A multi skilled technician was assigned to each of the five groups.

Largely the technical operation worked smoothly but some lack of operational experience with this new equipment caused occasional delays - which was not entirely unexpected. All participants were excited about the DV equipment and saw its future potential on their own stations.

The latter stages of the course saw the participants bristling with ideas for real stories. The five teams produced something in the region of forty ideas which led to each group producing two packages. These packages will be seen during the main conference.

Departing from the presentational style of previous years the trainers decided that it was more important to concentrate on good package production. Story telling using good pictures became the theme of the course. Presentation, however, was covered in smaller groups for those who found it relevant to their working practices.


The results of the course were pleasing to both participants and trainers.

Ten programme items were produced ranging from a newsy issue about supermarket and Sunday shop trading - to a splendid account of the history of the Jewish minority of Kosice - to a day in the life of a street singer.

As mentioned earlier the items were not strung together in programme format but as a live presentation compared by one of the trainees. Given little rehearsal time the items were adequately presented although next year I would look for a more "show business" style. There was a hundred percent turn out of participants and trainers but it was hugely disappointing to members of the course that only a handful of delegates bothered to attend the showing.

No sooner had the scheduled items been prepared than trainees were back hard at work producing news items for the final day of the conference. This certainly pressurised the participants. Sadly the items were not shown to the delegates owing to an incompatibility of digital technology at the conference centre.

Whilst the main training sessions were completed on the Tuesday of the final week all five trainers held special "surgeries" for participants with particular skills needs. These surgeries continued until late on the final Friday afternoon.


There were problems with the editing technology at some stages of the course which forced many editing sessions late in to the night. The problems centred largely on inexplicable memory loss of content loading and probably on lack of experience of operation of some editors. The future, however, appears to be set on exactly the kind of technology we were using. The learning curve is steep and much was learned by course operators and participants.


Feedback forms were issued to all twenty-five participants. The course scored agreeable points with almost every person grateful that they were given the opportunity to take part. Expressed in percentage terms the results were:
1.     How well did you understand the course objectives     94.2
2.     Did the course meet your expectations     90
3.     Did the trainers understand your problems     82.5
4.     Satisfaction of course content     89
5.     Trainer coverage of course content     83
6.     Adequacy of interpretation     85
7.     Course duration (most participants wanted longer)     56.4
8.     Balance of theory and practical work     70
9.     Satisfaction with course technology     62.5

Both items 8 and 9 would have been higher if we had experienced fewer technical delays.

I was delighted with the standard of all trainers and hope to gather the same team for 2003. Next year I will try to persuade the trainers to give more time to individual group work. Trying to teach best practice skills to a large group of twenty-five people is not ideal. We must, however, be careful not to do the work FOR the trainees - always a danger when working in smaller groups.

I think we will also seek to give the participants an extra day or two of core skills training. That, after all, is what they come for.

Ian Masters. June 2002.