Trainee reporters put to the test in first NCE of 2011

Trial bikers suspected of murdering a teacher on a moor, a popular seaside holiday park going into administration and an assistant chief constable facing an indecent assault charge were just some of the scenarios trainee reporters had to tackle in the National Certificate Examination on Friday, 4 March.

79 trainees sat the exam, 51 for the first time and 28 re-sits, at eight different centres across the UK.

The first exam of the day was Newspaper Practice. Candidates were tasked with answering a media law question – one of which centred on a court case where the accused was an assistant chief constable – and had to demonstrate they could put their knowledge of the law into practice. They also had to show they could develop and follow-up on a story effectively.

Next up was the News Report. A speech was read about a struggling seaside holiday park which had just gone into administration after losing its financial backers. The trainees had to produce a 300-word story using information given in a brief and their selected shorthand notes taken from the speech.

Finally, the interviewing skills of the reporters were put to the test in the News Interview exam as they had to get to the bottom of a recently launched murder inquiry. Interviewing the detective chief inspector, they had to produce a 400-word story for their paper’s website about the death of a farmer’s wife who was a teacher at the nearby school.

She had been discovered by a mountain rescue team with a severe head injury, and video footage from her mobile phone suggested she may have been run over by two youths on trial bikes. Despite being airlifted to hospital, she died from her injuries hours later.

The fourth element of the NCE is completion of the Logbook, which candidates must submit on the day of the exam. It includes a selection of cuttings which demonstrate the trainee has satisfactorily covered a range of key tasks such as inquests, councils, courts and public meetings.

Results for the March NCE will be emailed out to all candidates on Wednesday, 13 April and published two days later. Enrolments for the next NCE on 8 July are now being accepted. An application form can be found on the NCTJ’s website.