A bright future in journalism for award-winning talent

Top students and trainee journalists have been recognised and rewarded at this year’s NCTJ Awards for Excellence in Journalism.

The 11 awards were given to winners of the news journalism, sports journalism, features of the year and top scoop/exclusive categories and the performance awards.

Lead judge Alan Geere, editorial director at Northcliffe Media South East and a director of the NCTJ, praised the winners for uncovering stories using traditional and new techniques, the use of good quotes and writing styles.

Scarlett Wrench, who studied at Brighton Journalist Works and now works as a junior sub-editor at Men's Health, was the winner of the student news journalism award. Alan said: “Scarlett shows a great mix of the old and the new, using the latest story-finding techniques – trawling social media sites – as well as one of the most tried and trusted practices of going through the obituaries in the paper.”

Rachel Butler, a trainee journalist at the Derby Telegraph, came top in the trainee news journalism category. “The harrowing tale of a family caught up in a tragic accident was brilliantly developed from a line in the death notices to become a story that national media were forced to follow,” said Alan. “Sensitive interviews plus well-sourced pictures made it one of the stories of the year.”

Tim Groves, who recently completed the NCTJ-accredited course at Kingston University, won the student sports journalism award because he “showed good initiative and due scepticism with the football story. A good story well done,” said Alan.

Trainee reporter Rob Setchell, who currently works for two Archant weekly titles, The Cambs Times and The Wisbech Standard, scooped the trainee sports journalism award. Alan Geere said: “It’s not that easy to turn in exclusives for the sports pages, with so much of the action played out for all to see. But Rob has come up with three cracking stories, well told with excellent use of quotes and a good, punchy reporting style.”

The student features award went to Jessica Baldwin for her “fantastic ideas” and “laugh-out-loud writing style”. Since completing her NCTJ course at News Associates earlier this year Jessica has had features published in Time Out magazine, Time Out guides, West London Living, Eastern Daily Press, easyJet Traveller magazine and Apres.

Kate Proctor, who currently works for the Westmorland Gazette, won the trainee features award. She was the only reporter to be shortlisted in two categories – news reporter and features of the year.

The top scoop/exclusive winners were selected by Jeanette Oldham – investigative journalist at the Sunday Mercury and winner of Britain’s scoop of the year at the Regional Press Awards 2010.

She chose student winner Larisa Brown, who is now on the Daily Mail graduate training scheme having completed the NCTJ course at Press Association Newcastle, and Andrew Dickens, a trainee on the Cambridge News, because they were the “clear winners” in their categories. 

Rosie Taylor, who recently completed an NCTJ-accredited course at the University of Sheffield, scooped this year’s student journalist of the year award. Rosie is currently a trainee reporter at the Daily Mail, working at the Manchester Evening News as part of her training.

Matthew Harrison was awarded the NCTJ photographer of the year. Having sat his NCE whilst working at the Derby Evening Telegraph, Matthew is now working as a freelance photographer combining his love of photography with travelling.

The NCTJ reporter of the year award went to Robert Alderson. Rob joined The Hastings Observer as a trainee reporter having completed the NCTJ-accredited course at Cardiff University. He passed the NCE earlier this year with the highest marks in the country and is now working as the online editor for arts and culture website It's Nice That.

The awards were announced by NCTJ chairman Kim Fletcher and presented by Fran Unsworth, head of newsgathering at BBC News, at the Society of Editors' conference in Egham, Surrey on Monday, 14 November.