Two out of three senior journalism examinations are set to be scrapped as part of “radical changes” to be introduced by the National Council for the training of Journalists.
As part of the plans, the News Interview and News Report sections of the NQJ would be replaced with a new assessment from July 2019.
Candidates will still have to sit an exam covering media law, ethics and regulation, and provide an e-logbook of their work, but the third assessment will depend on which sector of the industry they are working in.
Journalists working on major news stories in the regional and national press, and broadcast media will sit an exam with the working title of ‘The Big News Story’ which will include rigorous testing of digital skills and use of social media alongside other fundamental news journalism skills.
Alternative assessment options are planned for production journalists, community digital journalists, sports journalists and magazine journalists.
The NCTJ says it is making the changes to “reflect the fast-changing digital skills that are revolutionising journalism”, with the new assessment being tailored so it is appropriate to candidates’ job and the sector within which they are employed.
It says the new qualification will be more cost-effective, as assessments will be delivered online, allowing candidates to sit under exam conditions either in-house or at an NCTJ centre.
The changes follow an 18-month period of detailed research and development, and come a fortnight after the NCTJ revealed its lowest ever NQJ pass rate following last month’s sitting, which saw less than half of candidate trainees qualify as seniors
NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher, pictured, said: “The NCTJ is now catering for a wider range of journalists and media sectors, and our aim is to open up the NQJ to all journalists.
“The new NQJ will have more options to suit journalists working in different media and journalism roles as well as placing more emphasis on digital developments and changes in journalism practice.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this important project so far, and those who are helping with the design and development of the new assessments.”
All NQJ candidates currently registered with the NCTJ and due to sit from July can transfer to the new qualification.
An apprenticeship for senior journalists, also due to be introduced in 2019, is aligned to the new NQJ and has been developed so that employers can spend their apprenticeship levy on training and qualifying their graduate trainees and junior journalist apprentices as seniors.
Bournemouth Echo editor Andy Martin, who chairs the NCTJ’s journalism qualifications board, said: “I’m delighted that after such a detailed and far-reaching review, we have produced a new NQJ that provides quality training and meets the needs of a rapidly changing industry.
“The NQJ is based on exacting professional standards, so those who earn the qualification demonstrate that they can work successfully as a senior journalist.”