First trainees sit new online National Qualification in Journalism

The first level 6 National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) exams were sat on Friday, July 5 by trainees hoping to achieve ‘senior journalist’ status.

The level 6 NQJ was developed following an industry-wide review, in response to changes in journalism, journalism training and the media, and reflects the fast-changing digital skills that are revolutionising journalism.

As well as submitting their logbooks for marking, a total of 34 regional press trainees in the UK are sitting the exams in the Cirrus online exams portal.

For the first time, the exams are being held at in-office locations as well as academic venues, owing to the flexibility the online platform provides.

The media law and ethics in practice exam is mandatory for all candidates, and consists of three media law questions and one ethics-based question.

In the ‘big news story’ assessment for journalists specialising in hard news, candidates tackle an unfolding breaking story in which more information becomes available as time elapses.

Candidates must assess the value of the information, its accuracy and relevance, and produce one short story at an early stage in the exam with a final, longer story coming as the last question.

Other questions during the ‘big news story’ exam focus on social media, analytics and decision-making in the newsroom as the story unfolds.

Four candidates also piloted the NQJ for production journalists on July 5 at The Guardian.
Instead of the ‘big news story’ assessment, they will sit the production journalism exam, in which they are asked to edit a story for online, correcting mistakes and ensuring a consistent style.

In the second part of the exam, production journalists are asked to fill out an InDesign template page with a lead, a second lead explaining an issue raised in the lead and a side panel with information from the earlier online story.

Alternative assessment options are planned for community journalists, sports journalists and magazine journalists.

Trainees sitting the exams today will receive their results on Tuesday, 6 August. The NCTJ will be publishing an NQJ examiners’ report annually alongside its quality assurance and standards committee report.