NCTJ NCE core skills graph

NCTJ graph shows editors' responses when asked what the NCE should test, with writing and finding news stories at the top and web and social media at the bottom

Traditional reporting skills are still more important to editors than newer digital skills, according to a recently published review of the National Council for Journalists' NCE qualification.

The review surveyed 104 editors, who rated skills such as news writing, finding stories, interviewing and law highly but placed social media and other digital skills at the bottom of the list.

Interaction with audiences was also rated as less important than more traditional skills.

The report follows a six-month review of the NCE – National Certificate Exam – and found overall that the qualifications should continue to focus on the "fundamentals" and "core skills" of the trade, rather than undergo an overhaul, concluding: "What is required is for the exam to evolve; there is no demand for a revolution."

"An ability to spot a story, conduct a strong interview and then produce clean, legally sound, well-structured copy remains the priority," said one editor, "with these key skills everything else (social media, video etc) will follow."

Another said the exam should was "still about fundamental journalistic standards" and "not a test of Facebook and Twitter skills or, for that matter, audio and video".

The report also suggested the "currency" of the exam was on the rise as the number of jobs available in the industry drops, with more than 90 per cent of editors surveyed saying they saw the NCE as an "industry standard".

NCTJ editorial consultant Paul Watson, who wrote the report, called for the NCE to "move with the times", but added that "wholesale changes to the NCE would not be welcomed by editors and employers" and so core skills would remain its primary focus.

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