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Improved pass rate in latest round of NCEs

The pass rate for reporters taking the National Certificate Examination (NCE) has risen.

Results for the latest round of exams, taken by 200 reporters during September, show that 130 passed – increasing the pass rate by 15 per cent on the previous two sittings.

The success rate for first-timers has shot up to 68 per cent, compared with 38 per cent and 43 per cent in the previous two rounds of exams.

Chief examiner Steve Nelson said: “This is the highest pass rate for several years and comes at a time when the NCE has continued to evolve to meet the requirements of editors and the industry.

“These changes have included the introduction of the logbook, new requirements for the news report and the decision to allow candidates the use of a text book for newspaper practice.

“The overall results for the September sitting of the 2007 NCE are both exceptional and encouraging.

“These were excellent results and congratulations go to all those who were successful.”

The interview section of the September exam required, for the first time, that candidates write copy from a breaking story for a website rather than tomorrow’s newspaper, to reflect web-first newsroom practice.

The newspaper journalism board took this step after much deliberation with 74 per cent passing this section, compared with 66 per cent in the March exam this year.

Five of the successful journalists have received cash prizes for their outstanding work in the NCEs.

Caroline Boyd, of the Newark Advertiser, received the Society of Editors’ award for her news interview paper.

The examiners said: “Caroline demonstrated all the qualities of a good interviewer by taking a detailed, rather than superficial, interest in the events and its characters.

“She then reported the story with a simple clarity, drawing out the tension of the situation with a well organised structure and evocative quotes.”

The Esso award was given to Andrew Whelan from The Argus, in Brighton, who the examiners said was the clear winner of the best news report.

They said: “He demonstrated maturity and ability in combining the factual information from the brief with the content of the speech into a strong story, which read well from intro to final par.

“All the key points were included in an easily accessible style, together with an accurate selection of the best quotes.”

The Crawley Observer’s Matthew Gaw won the award for the best newspaper practice paper.

The examiners said: “Matthew combined a very thorough, analytical law answer with two comprehensive and imaginative newspaper practice answers.

“As candidates have access to McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists we demand a high standard of answers and this candidate produced a near faultless law answer.”

Malvern Gazette reporter Tarik Alrasheed received the Newsquest award for the best logbook.

The examiners said: “Tarik compiled a model logbook, faultlessly presented and containing excellent submissions for the key tasks which clearly demonstrated that he had received thorough training in all the required areas.”

Finally Christopher Amery, from the St Helens Star, received the Pamela Meyrick award which is presented every year to the best NCE candidate working for a newspaper in the North of England or North Wales.

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