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Reporting is 'one of the best jobs in the world' despite newsroom cuts, says local journalist after exam award win

A daily reporter who has won a senior journalism exam award has said his job has changed amid newsroom cuts, but he still thinks reporting “is one of the best jobs in the world”.

Fifty-seven per cent of the 28 trainees who took the National Qualification in Journalism exams last month passed all four sections: media law and practice, news report, news interview and e-logbook.

This was the last round of NQJ exams before the National Council for the Training of Journalists, which runs the senior qualification, relaunches the assessment in July.

Swindon Advertiser reporter Tom Seaward (pictured) won the award for the best logbook in the March sitting. Moderators said he was “a richly deserving winner” who had “demonstrated a depth of talent”.

During his time at the daily newspaper its journalists went on strike against poor pay and job cuts resulting from a move to “write to shape” in print production (where pages are designed ahead of time).

Seaward, who trained with PA, said: “I fell into journalism by accident, doing my NCTJ prelim’ course in part because it was the easiest way I could find of learning shorthand. It was one of the better decisions I’ve made.

“Our newsroom has not been immune to cuts and the job has changed even in the two years I’ve been a reporter.

“Despite that, I still think reporting is one of the best jobs in the world. I’ve met people I would never otherwise have come across, made friends and contacts that will hopefully last a lifetime.”

Among the other award winners, who each won £250, was Megan Baynes of the Isle of Wight County Press. She joined as an apprentice journalist with Highbury College before becoming the island’s Local Democracy Reporter.

Baynes, who was previously named the NCTJ’s apprentice of the year for 2018, said she was “absolutely over the moon” to be praised for her “compelling” news report.

She added: “It’s been an amazing 18 months going from apprentice trainee to fully qualified senior reporter and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Harry Taylor of Archant weekly Ham and High won the media law award, while the Shetland Times’ Andrew McQuarrie won the Society of Editors’ news interview award.

Taylor, who completed his NCTJ Diploma in Journalism alongside an MA at the University of Sheffield, said: “I’m surprised and delighted to have won this award for my law exam.”

McQuarrie said: “Success in the NQJ exams couldn’t have been secured without the support of my colleagues at The Shetland Times, who made sure my training was both hugely valuable and most enjoyable.”

The rebooted NQJ exams will include a two-hour media law and ethics paper which will go into “greater depth” and have an extra question compared to the current version.

It will also introduce a new practical and skills-based exam called “the big news story” which will replace the current news interview and news report exams, but test the “same good journalism practices and standards”.

The e-logbook module will remain the same.

No Reach trainees took the NQJ exams in March, after the company’s move to set its own internal senior assessments as standard for its trainee reporters across the country.

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