The examiners report, compiled by the National Council for the Training and Journalists, also focused on the “dangers” of using Twitter when covering terrorist incidents.
Unusually, there were two sittings for the National Qualification in Journalism in March, with weather disruption on the original scheduled date of 2 March necessitating an extra sitting on 23 March.
This meant the two sets of candidates sat two different papers for the media law and practice, news interview and news report section of the exam.
Candidates had to pass each section, as well as the e-logbook section demonstrating a portfolio of their work – to achieve senior status, with 23 of the 42 candidates proving successful.
Here is a summary of the examiners’ report on how the candidates performed in each section.
MEDIA LAW AND PRACTICE
Pass rate: 65pc
The examiners said: “In general, the overall pass rate for Media Law and Practice was lower than previous recent exams. Candidates with a logical approach, allied to knowledge, tended to do better.
“The scenario of the dangers of using tweets when covering a major terrorist incident threw up numerous problems but none that should be beyond a candidate who keeps themselves up to date with the news and IPSO rulings.
“Regular visits to the IPSO adjudications and the Editors’ Code Book, along with the Judicial Studies Board’s Reporting Restrictions in the Criminal Courts, would be helpful.
“Both HoldtheFrontPage and Press Gazette cover the more important IPSO rulings and have regular law and ethics articles.”
Pass rate: 55pc
The examiners said: “The quality of some papers submitted for the 2 March exam were disappointing. Markers were presented with a number of inaccurate stories and errors which would require immediate clarification or correction.
“Whether shorthand was to blame for the errors, or news-hungry trainees not listening properly to the speech, the outcome was readers being told an entire industrial estate had been evacuated, a school had been closed or local residents moved from their homes. None of this was true.
“There were some excellent papers in the 23 March exam.
“The key message from these exams is that shorthand must be up to speed and neat enough to be accurately transcribed back.”
Pass rate: 64pc
The interview for the 2 March exam was based on two linked stories involving a raid on a nightclub followed by a three-mile police pursuit which culminated in the death of one of the suspects.
The examiners said: “Candidates needed to combine the drama of the raid with the subsequent police pursuit and the motorway crash. While many candidates combined both in their intros, some did not mention the pursuit or the death until the second half of the story.”
The 23 March exam concerned a collision between a car and a train on a level crossing.
The examiners said: “Spelling was an issue for too many candidates, changing ‘braking’ to breaking’ and not understanding the difference between ‘practising’ and ‘practicing’. Those who passed had a readable writing style, caught the drama and had strong chronology and quotes.”
Pass rate: 100pc
The examiners said: “The March exam saw a number of good submissions from candidates which led to strong competition for the overall logbook prize.
“It is pleasing to see that there were fewer failures to submit the correct copy on key tasks, whether cuttings or original submissions. Those who are due to submit a logbook are reminded to make sure that they check – and check again – to make sure that all key tasks have been completed correctly.
“Elsewhere, there were no major issues with regards to specific key tasks.
“As always, we advise all those undertaking the logbook to make sure that if they are unsure of anything, then in the first instance they should seek help from their editor or trainer, or contact the NCTJ and we will be happy to give advice ahead of submitting for marking.”