NCTJ updates professional qualification for reporters

The National Certificate Examination (NCE), the NCTJ’s senior journalism qualification, is to be re-launched as the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) next year.

The changes follow an extensive review of the NCE in 2011 and consultation and revision of the exams in 2012. The first exam will take place in March 2013.

There will continue to be four sections of the qualification:

Media Law and Practice replaces the current Newspaper Practice exam. It consists of three compulsory questions – two (40 mark) law questions plus one (20 mark) ethics-based question. The time allowed remains the same at 1 hour 20 minutes.

News Report has been updated to include a story development section which requires candidates to write a 350-word story plus suggest ideas for story development. There is now less leeway in the word count allowed – 10 words either side of 350 rather than the previous 25 words. The speech will now be delivered by one person, recorded and shown on video across all exam centres, standardising the delivery for everyone. The time allowed for the exam is 1 hour 30 minutes – 10 minutes to read the brief, 5 minutes for the video and 1 hour 15 minutes for the story and ideas.

News Interview remains the same as before aside from the fact there is now five minutes less reading time at the start of the exam (now 10 minutes) and the leeway in the word count has been cut from 25 words to 10 words. There is a 20-minute interview followed by 1 hour and 10 minutes to write a 400-word story. The total exam length, with the reading time, is therefore 1 hour 40 minutes.

E-Logbook is a new online version of the logbook that will be introduced for all new registrations (those already completing a hard-copy logbook can continue to do so). There are 20 key tasks, one of which is a new task on social media and two of which are ‘trainee’s choice/showcase’, allowing them to include four pieces of work of their own choice.

Commenting on the changes in the last NCE examiner’s report, chief examiner Steve Nelson said: “This will be the biggest change in a generation, focusing more sharply on the law and ethics. The exam will continue to be divided into four parts – Logbook, News Interview, News Report and the newly-created Media Law and Practice, which replaces Newspaper Practice.

“In part, the new exam reflects concerns over ethics in journalism, but it also puts more emphasis on social media and has an improved structure. I am confident that the changes will be met with universal approval by both editors and trainees.”

The first National Qualification in Journalism will take place in March 2013 and the enrolment form will be on the website in the New Year. Refresher workshops for trainees sitting these exams will run in February 2013 and can be booked via the NCTJ website. An example Media Law and Practice exam will also be made available via the website.

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