What’s Changed With The NCTJ


As I mentioned a week or so ago the shorthand section of the NCTJ course has experienced some changes recently. But it isn’t just the teeline test that’s changing, the entire syllabus will change from September 2011. Seeing as some centres are delivering the changed syllabus now I thought it was about time to highlight some of the differences.

Firstly, and possibly most importantly, news writing doesn’t exist anymore. Nope, it’s now known as reporting and teaches multi-platform reporting and news writing for online, magazines and TV/Radio as well as print. The discipline also looks at basic editing skills, finding and telling stories and accuracy and use of English.

The move can certainly be seen as a step in the right direction and will answer the NCTJ critics that recently questioned its street cred. However, the current NCTJ pre-entry exams provide a very good grounding for a trainee newspaper journalist on a local level. A balance will need to be struck and the NCTJ will have to be wary of following journalism degrees that try to cram in too many aspects into their courses and leave students without a real speciality.

The portfolio also changes and is now called the multimedia portfolio which allows students to submit stories on any format in another move to try to produce a more rounded journalist.

Both public affairs and media law have been rebranded as essential media law and essential public affairs, while the shorthand changes can be found by following the link at the top of the page to my NCTJ Shorthand – The Future post.

Anyone concerned that the new curriculum may be leading students down a path of uncertainty in the job market, with too many skills and not enough specific knowledge can breathe a sigh of relief.  Students will not be able to gain a diploma in journalism unless they pass all the required elements above AND two specialist subjects.

The subjects include court reporting, online video journalism, sub-editing, sports journalism, business of magazines and broadcast journalism. Again, this is a change for the better and it allows more variety to be offered and will help to produce a well-rounded journalist with a refined specialist field with which to work in.

Upon launching the changes Donald Martin, chairman of the NCTJ Journalism Qualifications Board, said:

 “We all now operate in a multimedia world. The boundaries between journalism sectors are no longer distinct. Employers like me are demanding multi-skilled journalists. And students, who are full of enthusiasm for this new world, want multimedia training and multimedia NCTJ qualifications.”

So there you have it, the qualification which best suits trainee journalists has expanded and should be able to help place young journalists in jobs across all forms of media and not just the local press. A change for the better, I’d say.
If you are taking or going to be taking this new form of NCTJ courses or are already taking them please get in touch. We would love to hear your thoughts.
You can also read the full aticle of Donald Martins launch of the Diploma in Journalism here
Pic Credit – Arvind Balaraman
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3 Responses to What’s Changed With The NCTJ

  1. Matt Baxter says:

    I’ve just got back from my Newswriting class funny enough.
    We’re gearing towards the new reporter exam to be taken in about March.
    I’ve got a couple of the new papers to hand and we had an NCTJ marker (though his names escapes me) from News Associates in Wimbledon come in to go through one with us. It was really great advice.
    I’ve seen both the new and old (when it was called Newswriting) papers for this exam, and in general the principles I think a still pretty much the same.
    How you structure reports/stories, which quotes you use and where you place them and your inclusion of key facts and figures is all still of the same high standard in this exam.
    What’s changed however is the inclusion of more modern means of delivering news, and the methods of writing for them.
    Things like the fast output of writing for a papers website to break a story fast, as well as things like Twitter tweets and sms alerts are now given more attention alongside the main stories s well as standard newsriting seen in the older exam.
    Standards are still very high in my opinion, though obviously things will be judged after the first lot of entrants sit this exam, of which I’ll probably be one of the first.
    This definitely shows a step in the right direction for the NCTJ, who definitely need to adapt with the times. Newspapers are progressively giving online content a bigger role in their output and it is a vital skill to write online stories ontop of fundamental newswriting.
    Sadly for the older Journo’s though, there’s no return of their beloved ‘Oxdown’ haha.

    • Matt Wiggins says:

      Some great insight into the changes of the Newswriting exam there, good luck with it all when you finally sit it.

      Was it Richard? Or it might have been Andy? Both are very good and would be a great benefit to get tips from.

      Good old Oxdown, I thought they would never get rid of it.

      • Matt Baxter says:

        It might have been Richard I think.
        Might be worth you trying to get an interview with maybe for the site mate?

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