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Two thirds reach gold standard in journalism diploma as award winners named

More than two thirds of candidates who took Diploma in Journalism exams in the last academic year passed with ‘gold standard’ grades, the NCTJ has revealed.

The 67pc who passed DipJ modules with A-C grades in 2022-23 represents a small increase from the previous eyar when the pass rate was 66pc.

The figures were contained in the NCTJ’s annual examiners report which was published today along with the names of the 12 award-winners for achieving the best results in the DipJ exams.

They each receive a cash prize of £250 from their respective award supporters: ITV News, the Mark Allen Group, National World, Newsquest, Oxford University Press, Reach, Sky Sports News, Society of EditorsThe Independent, The Premier League, and The Telegraph.

In the essential journalism exam, which assesses core storytelling skills, the percentage of candidates achieving gold standard passes rose to 55pc from 52pc in 2021-22 and 51pc in 2020-21

By contrast the numbers achieving A-C grades in the essential journalism ethics and regulation test dropped for a third successive year to 68pc in what the report termed “a disappointing trend in such an important subject.”

The essential media law and regulation exam saw an “encouraging” rise of around 10pc in the number of candidates who took the assessment in 2022-23, with the gold standard pass rate of 65pc up from 64pc the previous year.

However the court reporting module saw a drop in uptake with 867 candidates sitting the exam compared to 1,208 in 2020-21. The report said the fall in numbers “remains a concern of the law board.”

Summarising the results, principal examiner Amanda Ball said: “Diploma results for the last two academic years clearly indicate that NCTJ standards remain encouragingly high, and that the assessments are robust and fit for purpose.

“The results are also testament to the hard work undertaken by the NCTJ examiners, staff and individual subject boards, as well as to the commitment of the hard-working tutors on accredited courses who continue to deliver high-quality journalism education and training.”

Congratulating the award winners, chief executive Joanne Forbes said: “NCTJ diploma assessments are a challenging test of competence and demand commitment and sheer hard work to reach the ‘gold standard’. Getting the top marks is a wonderful achievement.

“This is a talent-list of names to watch as they develop their journalism careers into senior positions.”

Montage of 11 of the 12 award-winners.  One winner did not want to be identified.

Montage of 11 of the 12 award-winners. One winner did not want to be identified.


The winners are as follows, in no particular order:

The Newsquest essential journalism award – Benjamin Terence Stewart Allward, Glasgow Caledonian University.

After previously working as a freelancer for Radio Clyde, Benjamin is taking a year out of journalism to work on the Belmond Royal Scotsman train.

The Oxford University Press essential media law award – Niamh Robinson, PA Media Academy.

Niamh has been working as an editorial newsroom apprentice at The Telegraph since January 2023, rotating around a variety of desks including digital news, video, social media and SEO. She is looking forward to applying for permanent positions later this year.

The National World media law: court reporting award – Eve Bennett, News Associates London

Eve, who was named student of the year at the NCTJ’s Awards for Excellence this year, is currently an output producer at Sky News. While completing her NCTJ diploma at News Associates, she worked as a producer, reporter and presenter for Riverside Radio’s weekly news programme — where she was awarded best reporter 2022.

The Oxford University Press public affairs award – Ji-Min Lee, Darlington College

Ji-Min moved to The Telegraph as a social media editor in November, where he works alongside editorial and audience teams to design and implement the paper’s social strategy. He has also taken the lead on The Telegraph’s new landmark news podcast The Daily T, which launches in May.

The Sky Sports News shorthand award (100wpm) – Freya Gascoigne, News Associates London

Freya achieved the top 100wpm shorthand exam with an impressive 100 per cent accuracy. She currently works as a politics editorial assistant at Sky News.

The ITV News broadcast journalism awardUniversity of Central Lancashire student

This student, who achieved 83 per cent in the broadcast journalism exam, does not wish to be named.

The Society of Editors editing skills for journalists’ award – Ben Stevens, De Montfort University

Since graduating, Ben has been doing sports writing for a website called VAVEL, and collaborated with a PR agency during this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

The Mark Allen Group practical magazine journalism award – Ethan Banks, University of Sunderland

Ethan, who achieved the gold standard diploma in 2023, and has words in The Sun and the Essex Echo, specialises in entertainment, and has interviewed several celebrities, including Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel.

The Independent videojournalism award – Paul Dobson, NCTJ Journalism Skills Academy distance learner

Paul receives this award following his impressive performance in the videojournalism for online exam, which he undertook as a distance learner with the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Academy. Paul is currently working as a freelance journalist in Venezuela.

The Premier League sports journalism award – Luke Power, News Associates Manchester

Luke achieved 78 per cent in the sports journalism exam, which he sat while completing the multimedia sports journalism diploma course at News Associates in Manchester. Luke is now working as a trainee sports reporter with MailOnline.

The Reach journalism for a digital audience award – Abbie Ingham, News Associates London

Now freelancing with the FA, Abbie has conducted interviews with almost all the Lionesses squad at St George’s Park, as well as writing featured articles across the men and women’s FA Cup Final, and the Women’s Finalissima. Abbie previously worked at LiveScore.

The Telegraph data journalism award – Thomas Godfrey, Oxford Brookes University

After graduating from the BA media, journalism and publishing course at Oxford Brookes University, Thomas is now a news reporter at The Sun. Thomas achieved an impressive 79 per cent in his data journalism exam.