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July NQJ: No ‘dumbing down’ say examiners

There has been no “dumbing down” of the seniors’ exam, the chief examiner of the National Council for the Training of Journalists said in his report on the July 2014 NQJ results.

Steve Nelson maintained that the exam remained as “rigorous and robust” as ever despite the 72 pass rate.

In his report, he praised candidates’ grasp of ethics, clean copy and flowing writing styles while chiding some for silly errors, literals, and not taking sufficient time to grasp the story.

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

Media law and practice

Candidates:  54
Passed:  42
Pass rate:  78pc

Examiners said the “encouraging results” of the past two media law and practice exams have continued in the July 2014 sitting.

The compulsory ethics question, introduced following a revamp in 2013, resulted in some “excellent” answers with very few outright failures.

On the media law questions, most candidates understood why a Section 39 order should not be put on a dead boy, although not many highlighted the fact that his sister would not be involved in proceedings so should not be made a subject of the order.

The report said:  “Candidates who had kept up-to-date with changes in the law, particularly the introduction of the Defamation Act 2013, were rewarded, as was relevant citing of case studies.”

News report

Candidates:  67
Passed:  50
Pass rate:  75pc

The news report was based on a planning application by Network Rail to build a commuter car park coupled with a bid by Humbria District Council to introduce permit parking for residents living near the station.

Examiners said that with two distinct strands to the story, both angles needed to be high up in the story.

The report said: “Candidates seemed to have difficulty painting a clear picture of the situation and how parking issues affected the town. Many candidates picked up on the residents’ problems caused by commuters parking in their roads, but few included the problems being faced by businesses.”

However the examiners said it was “pleasing” to see that the copy generally was clean and that stories “flowed well.”

News interview

Candidates: 61
Passed:  49
Pass rate: 80pc

The news interview was based around a hit and run accident, when a well-known woman in a small village was pinned between a car and a church wall after a car lost control whilst racing another car along the village high street.

However the examiners said some candidates did not seem to grasp the story and did not follow the chronology through.

The report said candidates “need to take a couple of minutes to digest what the story is about before they attempt to write their story.”

It added:  “It appears some candidates did not leave enough time to read their finished story thoroughly and therefore left in some silly errors and literals that could have been avoided.”


Candidates:  48
Passed:  46
Pass rate:  96pc

Examiners praised the “clear presentation” in this section and hailed the smooth transition from paper to electronic logbooks.

“We are pleased that the response to the e-logbook continues to be positive and that there have been no major issues with the use of this format,” said the report.

“As with the paper logbooks however, candidates are reminded that where they are asked to include additional documentation via PDF or other format then they must double-check to make sure that this has been added.”

The report also highlighted some entries where candidates had submitted work under the wrong category.

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  • August 13, 2014 at 9:02 am

    If you fail the logbook you should not be allowed to resit. You have two years to get it together, should be a very easy pass.

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