The examiners’ report for those taking their National Certificate Exam in the spring praised the “wealth of young talent” on display as 55 per cent of those taking the NCTJ senior test achieved a pass.
The pass rate compares with 43 per cent for the autumn exams and 55 per cent this time last year.
Some 150 reporters will be going back to their newsrooms with the NCE certificate and five out of the nine photographers taking the NCE achieved a pass.
This round of NCE exams was the first time that journalists were marked on a logbook of published work as well as being assessed on conducting a news interview, reporting a speech and their knowledge of newspaper practice.
The report said: “The markers – teams of senior journalists from papers across the country – praised the large number of excellent entries showcasing a wealth of young talent encouraged by conscientious trainers.
“It was gratifyingly clear that regular in-house assessments were taking place in the majority of offices.”
Some 83 per cent of candidates passed the logbook section. The main reason given for failure was the technical error of not including original, unsubbed, copy as well as cuttings.
The examiners reported that comparing raw copy to the finished article revealed that “even in these days of spell-checks and grammar-correcting software, many reporters think it’s the subs’ job to turn their offerings into acceptable English”.
Among the gaffes spotted by markers was a report of a “major incident” that detailed a chip pan fire and a review “which an alert marker, impressed by its authority, entered into Google and discovered was almost word for word a press release from a wine company”.
The winner of a new award for the best logbook in the country was Joanne Winrow of the Halifax Evening Courier.
The examiners said: “This was an impressive array of work, demonstrating Joanne’s ability to produce excellent copy from a wide range of reporting tasks.
Well presented, with comprehensive evidence of regular in-house assessments, it was a credit to the winner and the trainers.”
By Dominic Ponsford