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Value of NCE rises as job numbers decline – report

The value of the National Certificate Examination for reporters has risen as the number of jobs in the industry declines, according to a new report.

But editors say the so-called ‘gold standard’ industry qualification needs to evolve in line with the changing needs of employers.

The report published by the National Council for the Training of Journalists follows a six-month review on the qualification which ran from January to May 2011.

As part of the review, more than 100 newspaper editors asked to give their views in an online survey.

Among the key findings were that the ‘currency’ value of the qualification has risen as the number of jobs has declined.

The author of the report on the review, the NCTJ’s editorial consultant Paul Watson, said another key industry issue was the need for reporters to find and tell original stories.

Reflecting on cost, time pressures and major changes underway he said wholesale changes to the NCE would not be welcomed by editors and employers.

The report states:  “What is required is for the exam to evolve; there is no demand for a revolution.”

The report states that the NCE remains a good test and needs to continue to move with the times, and reflect what is happening in most newsrooms, particularly in the way reporters operate and deal with digital publishing.

A demand for radical changes was not found and the report acknowledged that systems for digital publishing across the country vary greatly.

As well as the online survey the research also included a number of focus groups for editors and recently qualified seniors.  Editors and senior managers from the sector’s leading publishers were also interviewed.

Click here to read the report.


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  • August 23, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Here’s the reality. Those editors doing the interviewing place weight on the NCE only if they have it themselves.
    Lots of papers in Scotland pay lip service to the NCE and are just as likely to recruit someone from a college media course than an NCTJ recognised course…..because they think it costs them less.
    Papers like the Record and Sun used to take on reporters without asking whether they had ever been near the NCE or NCTJ. Sad but true.

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  • August 23, 2011 at 11:29 am

    This is a great report that makes some sound conclusions … they’ve avoided making changes for the sake of it. The NCE exam is in good shape and will remain the best plumbline if it continues to evolve with the industry.
    Pity, though, the inquiry didn’t examine why NCTJ insists on trying to establish a commercial monopoly on NCE refresher training, when this is clearly not in the best interests of journalists sitting the exam.

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  • August 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    It is great news that the people who matter – editors and training officers – have reaffirmed the NCE should remain concentrated on core journalistic talents. One suspects the main reason behind the review was an attempt to introduce more sparkly and sexy coverage of blogging, tweeting and web reporting into the exam. But as the report concludes, these can be developed later, what is most important is fledgling journalists have the core basic skills. One suspects the next fight (and perhaps more important) will be to stop the exam getting easier.

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