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Fewer than half qualify as NCTJ reveals new low pass rate for senior exams

NCTJ-logo-final-RGB-e1357555115357Fewer than half of sitting trainees qualified as senior journalists following the latest round of exams – marking the lowest pass rate since the National Qualification in Journalism was introduced five years ago.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists has revealed 47pc of the 36 candidates who sat the NQJ in July achieved the qualification.

It follows a previous low pass rate recorded at the previous round of sittings in March this year, when 55pc of the 42 candidates taking the exams were successful.

Of the 36 candidates who sat the July exams, 17 were successful in all four parts – media law and practice, news report, news interview and e-logbook.

For the fourth NQJ in a row, there was a 100pc pass rate for e-logbook, while there was an improved pass rate of 77pc in the media law and practice exam.

The media law exam tested defamation, contempt, absolute privilege, copyright law and some ethical elements, and the moderator described the responses as “a pleasing set of papers, with few outright failures and a couple of excellent papers”.

Of the e-logbooks, they added: “An excellent round of submissions showing that trainees have a clear grasp of what is required from the logbook key tasks.”

Poor shorthand was noted as an issue in both the news report and news interview exams, which produced pass rates of 47pc and 59pc respectively.

The moderator added: “There were some good pieces submitted by successful candidates who showed they understood the chronology of the story and also constructed their copy so it was readable and easy to follow, containing the drama, all the relevant facts, and backed up by strong quotes.”

The full list of successful candidates was as follows:

Luke Adams, Reading Chronicle
Tanzila Ali, Eastern Daily Press
Beth Baldwin, The Mail
Frances Berry, Herts Advertiser
Rebekah Chilvers, Lynn News
Isabella Cipirska, Worthing Herald
Rachael Dodd, Plymouth Herald
Reece Hanson, The Mail
Aimee Jones, Shropshire Star
Jack Marshall, Burnley Express
Holly O’Flinn, Lincolnshire Echo
Rosalyn Roden, Bury Times
Kirstie Smith, Leamington Spa Courier
Megan Titley, Lancashire Post
Keri Trigg, Shropshire Star
Chloe Marie West, Louth Leader
Stephen Wynn-Davies, Worthing Herald

The next NQJ exam will take place on Friday 2 November 2018, and the closing date for enrolment is Friday 21 September.


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  • August 14, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Shock! Horror! well, no.
    Hardly surprising when most of the old hands who might have taught keen but unskilled and green youngsters something left or were jettisoned on the sacrificial altar of website riches years ago. Chickens are coming home to roost bigtime…Some of the writing on local papers in pretty shocking even by today’s low standards. Wish it was otherwise.

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  • August 14, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Congratulations to those who have passed! I hope you all go on to do great things.
    But as for the low pass rate, or high failure rate as it were, who can young journalists learn from these days, as management have made so many senior editorial staff redundant?
    Mind you, are ‘old school’ journalism skills and knowledge even wanted now? ‘Journalism’ skills on local papers today is being the fastest to tweet, making the wobbly video, the one who knows how to Facebook Live, the best at writing a click bait story…?
    All highly rated by management (who sometimes set targets for reporters) based on the ratings displayed on TV screens in many newsrooms showing those stories getting most clicks…

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  • August 14, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    Oh dear. But I am not surprised in some ways. Why? Because the “donkeys” who control our newspaper organisations have got rid of the experienced seniors ( on the grounds of expense) with the result they cannot pass on their experience. My hat: I am becoming cynical.

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  • August 15, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Sad to see this, but as we know training isn’t what it was. Standards in decline which is why my employer is very very keen too ensure this veryoldhack continues to work.Tried recruiting for some roles last year but finding decent print production people, for example, was pretty impossible. With the continued slow decline in newspapers I expect younger people won’t be bothering with such skills.

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  • August 15, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    I can’t wait to have a laugh and gloat in a few weeks when the latest ABC’s figures are released.

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  • August 15, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Does anybody know if the NCTJ still has a Proficiency Qualification for Press Photographers? A recognised course anywhere? I qualified at Sheffield a long time under the excellent Paul Delmar. Anything like that still around?

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  • August 17, 2018 at 12:16 am

    While I don’t disagree with the fact that newsrooms have lost many experienced seniors in recent years, blaming this entirely for the lower pass rate is a bit of a flawed argument.

    Very high pass rates have been reported in the last couple of years. A joint-record 78 per cent attained the qualification in December, 2017. March saw a lower proportion of 55 per cent make the grade.

    I find it hard to believe that the ‘Class of 2018′ have suddenly become more disadvantaged than others before them. When I passed my exams four years ago, my two years in the job already made me one of the longest-serving reporters!

    The exams are always a bit of a lottery and can vary in terms of difficulty. Might we for once avoid jumping to conclusions and bemoaning the state of the industry? Hardly the high-level scrutiny and analysis we would expect to apply in our day jobs.

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  • August 17, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Oli Poole. Believe me when I read my local weekly paper I wonder where those previous high pass rates come from. Some of the basic journalism is sadly lacking, but you wouldn’t know unless someone told you.

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