The senior journalism exams set by the National Council for the Training of Journalists have recorded their lowest pass rate since the qualification was first brought in five years ago.
Fewer than half (47 per cent) of the 36 candidates who sat the exams in July came away with a pass, although this was a smaller cohort than the 53 who took them in July last year.
The National Qualifications in Journalism, or NQJ, is taken by journalists with at least 18 months experience working in the profession. It was created in 2013 to replace the NCE.
The NQJ comprises four parts: a portfolio of work, media law exam, news report and news interview. Those who pass achieve senior journalist status within the local and regional press – typically tied to a pay rise.
There was an improved pass rate of 77 per cent in the media law and practice exam from the July intake, up from 65 per cent on the previous sittings in March.
Again moderators noted shorthand as an issue across the news reporting and news interview exams.
Among the 17 who passed the NQJ were exam award winners:
- Kirstie Smith of the Leamington Spa Courier
- Tanzila Ali of the Eastern Daily Press
- Isabella Cipirska of the Worthing Herald
- Keri Trigg of the Shropshire Star.
Smith, who took the prize for best news report, revealed she had been undertaking 25 challenges to raise money for a cancer charity in memory of her father while preparing for the exams.
She said: “To pass these exams whilst I have been doing these challenges is just amazing. I hope I have made my dad proud.
“I would like to thank my editor Phil Hibble, my former editor Chris Lillington, my trainer John Wilson and the amazing team we have at our office. I would also like to give a shout out to my lecturers on my journalism course at Cardiff University.”
The exam moderators said: “Kirstie demonstrated a good, solid all-round approach to both sections, producing a vibrant, accurate story with sound suggestions in part B.”
Ali claimed the prize for the best e-logbook, which this year saw a 100 per cent pass rate.
She said: “I am really proud of the stories I have done with the Eastern Daily Press and I could not have done it without the incredible people I work with.
“I’d like to give special thanks to Andrew Papworth, Chris Bishop and Ian Burt, who have given me great support and advice along the way. I’ve had a brilliant start to my career and can’t wait to take on new challenges in the future.”
The exam moderators said: “A good deal of hard work has clearly gone into this submission with a wide range of impressive stories included, showing a breadth of talent.
“Judges were particularly impressed by strong submissions in the trainee’s choice key tasks which showed well developed story-telling and a keen eye for detail.”
Cipirska, a former Brighton Journalist Works student, won the media law award. She said: “The exams are really tough and it was stressful to sit three in one day, so I’m delighted that all the hard work has paid off.”
Trigg, a University of Sheffield graduate, said it was a “huge shock” to have won the best news interview award.
She added: “One of my colleagues won the same award in the last sitting, so that must say something about the Shropshire Star and our trainer, Crispin Clark.”