AddThis SmartLayers

Examiners praise NQJ candidates’ grasp of ethics

Candidates who sat the first ever compulsory ethics question in the new National Qualification in Journalism exam showed a “good understanding” of the issues, said the examiners.

The seniors’ qualification has been revamped to include a question on journalistic ethics in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry.

However poor shorthand and “awful grammar” continued to cause problems in some of the other parts of the exam, according to the examiners’ report.

Here’s a summary of how the candidates performed in each section and what the judges said.

Media Law and Practice

Candidates: 97
Passed: 55
Pass rate: 57pc

This section replaced Newspaper Practice and contained the compulsory ethics question as well as questions on media law as previously.

Examiners admitted that they had been concerned that the ethics question might cause “real problems” but said the candidates’ answers showed “a good understanding of the problems editors and senior journalists have to grapple with on a daily basis.”

The question required candidates to understand the impact on Clause 3 and Clause 5 of the Editors’ Code of Practice, after a mother had complained about the coverage of how she had adorned the grave of her recently-dead child.

The examiners report said:  “The candidates who did best applied the clauses to the scenario and said where they thought the paper had gone wrong and what should have been done. Those who did not show the right degree of sensitivity towards the family, or how photographs could be thought of as a breach of privacy, did not do so well.”

News Report

Candidates: 103
Passed 49
Pass rate: 48pc

This section also saw some changes designed to test the ability of reporters in the modern news room, in particular the ability to manage an ongoing news story across different platforms.

It was based around a story in which the elected mayor of an historic market town proposed some radical solutions to traffic congestion including introduicing 5,000 hire bikes.

The examiners said:  “While some candidates did well, it was apparent that others did not understand the position and role of an elected mayor. Shorthand was the usual problem for some, as was accuracy.

“The embargo written into the brief proved a pitfall for many and would have caused major problems for editors if candidates had proceeded in the real world with some of their ideas. Several wanted to get comments from opposition parties on the mayor’s proposals before she had even told her cabinet and did not appear to appreciate what an embargo actually meant.”

News Interview

Candidates:  99
Passed: 53
Pass rate: 54pc

The news interview was based around a story about a raid at a top of the range car showroom where £728,000 worth of Porsche cars were stolen by a gang with inside information about the premises.

Examiners said the majority of candidates managed to capture the drama of the raid and some did include the models of cars stolen and included registration numbers – a must if the police were appealing for help.

However their report also highlighted some “silly errors and awful grammar,” with some candidates getting the makes/models of the vehicles wrong as the interviewee spelt them out.

Another issue concerned interview technique, with many of the assessors in the exam commenting on a “lack of rapport or poor questioning” while there were also comments about the lack and the quality of shorthand.


Candidates: 66
Passed: 65
Pass rate: 98pc

The March submission of logbooks – in which journalists present a portfolio of their best stories – saw only one candidate failing to pass.

Examiners said there were no areas of concern as candidates on the whole presented “a very strong body of work.”

The report said:  “Markers all reported that the standard of work which they were given was pleasingly high and previous fears that reporters do not seem to be getting support on the compilation of the logbook do not seem to be founded.

“There were no major issues in any of the key tasks although candidates are once again reminded to check through after completion of their logbooks to make sure that all work has been signed off by an appropriate trainer/editor.”