Steve Nelson, left, chief examiner for the National Council for the Training of Journalists, said candidates should be improving their shorthand skills rather than allowing them to fall back.
His comments came in the detailed report on the March National Qualification in Journalism exam published alongside the results yesterday.
It follows a series of previous warnings by Steve about “weak” shorthand skills which he said had left some candidates “guessing” at quotes rather than reporting them verbatim.
Candidates had to pass each of the four sections in the exam – media law and practice, news report, news interview and logbook – with 41 of the 57 candidates proving successful.
Here is a summary of Steve’s report on how the candidates performed in each section.
MEDIA LAW AND PRACTICE
Pass rate: 82pc
Question one of the media law and practice paper was designed to test knowledge of the legal and ethical dangers in taking and publishing photographs while the second question focused on reporting of a rape case.
In their report, the examiners said many candidates showed “poor knowledge of privacy problems and how to overcome them.”
“While few candidates failed the ethics question, there were not many outstanding answers. It was disappointing that a few candidates were not aware of the changes to the Editors’ Code.
“Candidates with a good writing style and a logical approach, allied to knowledge, tended to do better. A bullet-point approach when answering these questions is recommended but candidates will not be penalised if they do not adopt this.”
Pass rate: 72pc
The section centred on a story about the closure of a sixth-form college as part of a county council’s £45m ten-year regeneration project for Victorian schools and colleges on its patch.
The examiners said many candidates had made statistical errors in their stories, chiefly around the cost of the rebuild and the government contribution.
Once again, examiners highlighted poor shorthand as an issue, saying: “It is clear that trainees in today’s news rooms are not maintaining the 100wpm gained in their Diploma exams, let alone improving it to the required ability to take short bursts at 120wpm.”
“In addition, they are not listening to what the speaker is saying and putting the story in context.”
Pass rate: 78pc
The news interview concerned a story about the rape of a 14-year-old girl by an attacker who later apologised to her.
Those who passed had a readable writing style, caught the drama and had strong quotes, the examiners said in their report.
There was plenty of detail given about the attack, but despite this many candidates went for what the examiners described as the “pedestrian” intro starting: “Police are hunting….”
“Further candidates seemed afraid to use the word ‘rape’, and one used ‘alleged’ throughout the copy,” the report added.
Pass rate: 98pc
In the logbook section candidates have to present a selection of their work in a digitised format.
Examiners praised a good round of submissions with all but one candidate achieving a pass.
The report said: “The logbook continues to provide an excellent vehicle to determine just how well a candidate writes and their grasp of the knowledge needed to address the various subjects.
“The problem of uploading the correct information when it comes to original copy and cuttings still persists for some and we would always recommend a double check on all copy which has been uploaded and also to seek a second opinion.”