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Agenda: Platform is available for the news hounds of tomorrow to impress

Despite the doom-mongers anxious to write off the newspaper industry, the truth is that, thanks to the digital revolution, more people than ever are reading the stories and looking at the pictures produced by newspaper staffers.

And in the increasingly complex digital world, trusted brands have never been more important in guiding readers through the growing jungle of information.

Radio, cinema and to an extent terrestrial TV have all been written off at some stage, yet all continue to thrive.

Of course, newspaper companies continue to face massive challenges and I do not seek to diminish them, but too often the focus is on what has gone wrong in the past and not on what is going right in the present.

However the word is spread, the need for quality journalism has never been greater and I'm glad to say the demand continues to be met

The reporting and analysis of two very different recent events - the death of Nelson Mandela and the tragedy of the Clutha Bar helicopter crash - were both outstanding.

And award-winning campaigns such as the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal in Edinburgh and the safety record of the A75 in Dumfries and Galloway show how the public interest continues to be served by the work of superb, committed local journalists.

Against such a background, perhaps it's no surprise so many young people ignore the merchants of gloom and queue to sign up for journalism courses at university and college.

I teach at one of them, Stirling University, where we had more than 200 students on our introduction to journalism course alone.

The fast-moving world of communication needs not only writers but photographers, designers, printers, programmers, digital experts and editors to put those stories across.

It's a competitive world and tomorrow's successful communicators are learning their craft right now at school. With high-speed broadband, streaming video and smart phones, instant communication is second nature to today's digital generation.

However, the production of accurate and responsible information, that will be understood and appreciated by a wider audience than just friends and family, is something that still needs to be taught and nurtured.

So the need to maintain the staples of journalism training remains. So, too, is the need to encourage young people to learn the craft of effective communication no less important now just because the ability to publish is open to all.

Therefore, industry support for journalism education is still essential, which is one reason the Scottish Newspaper Society is supporting the imPRESS school journalism awards, organised by Menzies Distribution.

The scheme will recognise the talents and teamwork evident in so many senior school print and digital publications at an award ceremony in June.

We hope the experience of creating a news publication provides the opportunity for students not only to develop their skills but to learn the importance of teamwork. And for the best, to enjoy the experience of beating the competition!

Regardless of whether the medium is newspapers, magazines TV, radio, politics or public relations, effective communication is an essential skill.

Practical experience and evidence of commitment are vital for any young person entering any job market.

Schemes such as imPRESS give young journalists of the future the chance to demonstrate their talent, creativity and willingness to go the extra mile.

I've worked with some brilliant people in the past and when the imPRESS winners are revealed in June, I look forward to meeting Scotland's next generation of spell-binding story-tellers.

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