Archant London trainees dominate NQJ awards

Archant London trainees have scooped two of the four cash prizes for exceptional performance in the November National Qualification for Journalism (NQJ).

Lizzie Dearden, a reporter for the Ilford Recorder, won the Ted Bottomley Award, sponsored by Midland News Association, for her media law and practice exam, while another Archant London employee, Ramzy Alwakeel of the Romford Recorder, won the Society of Editors Award for his news interview.

Lizzie completed her NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at News Associates, London in February 2012. The examiners said Lizzie demonstrated an “excellent grasp of the law” and submitted “a near-perfect answer” to the ethics question.

She said: “I wasn’t expecting to pass at all so the award was an incredible surprise. I knew the exam would be tough, especially with the recent changes to anonymity and defamation law, so I was pleased to get through it.

“It’s nice to stand in good stead for challenging barristers in court and dealing with breaking crime at work.”

Ramzy, who completed an accredited MA in journalism at the University of Central Lancashire in 2011, was 

commended by the examiners for producing a “very readable piece” that was “precise, concise and accurate”.

He said: “I’m really chuffed and surprised to have won the news interview award. I actually thought I’d failed it because there was so much information available and I had to cut loads out to fit the word count – but either way, it’s nice to get a vote of confidence in something that’s so central to my work as a reporter.”

Jonathon Taylor, who completed his NCTJ training at Press Association in Newcastle and now works at the Western Gazette, won the Newsquest Award for his logbook.

The examiners said: “Overall Jonathon produced a high scoring logbook with a number of particularly strong key tasks. His news backgrounder submissions clearly demonstrated both dedication and personal passion and his trainee’s choice submissions were very well written and scored highly. Jonathon is clearly a competent member of the newsroom and a deserved overall winner.”

Jonathon said: “"I am shocked and honoured to find out I received the prize for the best logbook. The four parts of the exam tests every aspect of your day-to-day job and it is a huge relief to have passed.”

Finally Emma Rigby, who trained at the Northwich Guardian and now works for the Wirral Globe, received the Esso Award for her news report. She completed an NCTJ-accredited BA in journalism at the University of Central Lancashire in 2012.

The examiners said Emma, “delivered accurate content to the reader in an

 informative and easy to understand report. Part B was well thought through and demonstrated the candidate's ability to think through all aspects of news coverage”.

Emma said: Passing the NQJ is a dream come true and the perfect Christmas present. After an agonising wait, I was delighted to hear that I had been successful in becoming a senior reporter – winning this prize is an overwhelming bonus.

“I’m lucky to have worked with a fantastic team at the Northwich Guardian and a huge thank you goes to them, and to my family, for their patience and encouragement throughout my training. This makes all of the hard work and fretting worthwhile and I look forward to working as a senior reporter.”

All award winners receive a cheque for £250 and a certificate of achievement.