Cardiff graduate wins double NCE award

After gaining her National Certificate last month, Tara Russell, now a senior reporter at the Southern Daily Echo, has added reason to smile after she scooped two awards for her exceptional performance in July’s NCE.

She became the third Cardiff University graduate to win an NCE award this year, following Gemma Casey and Rob Alderson’s double success in March.

Tara, 25, won the Ted Bottomley Award, sponsored by Midland News Association, for her performance in the newspaper practice exam and the Newsquest Award for submitting the best logbook.

She said: “Never in a million years did I expect to win an award, let alone two. To be honest I was just absolutely thrilled to become a senior reporter and this is a complete surprise.

“Winning the prize for the logbook feels great, particularly because it represents all the work I have put in since joining the Southern Daily Echo. Everyone at the paper has been very supportive – particularly the news editor here, Gordon Sutter, who has trusted me with some cracking stories.

“I never thought I would win a prize for my newspaper practice paper. All I can say is those cosy nights in with McNae’s have paid off!”

The newspaper practice examiners said Tara demonstrated a comprehensive knowledge of the law which she expressed very clearly. They said her answers on how to develop stories in the second section of the paper showed she would be contacting a wide range of sources, asking the right kind of questions and utilising the opportunities presented by social media.

Her logbook was also judged to be of a very high calibre by examiners, who added that she had submitted some excellent key tasks. “Her human interest submission in particular was a highpoint, although there was a good level of consistency all the way through,” they said.

25-year-old Stuart Gillespie, a journalist at the Fife Herald, also received recognition for his impressive performance in the NCE. Stuart, who studied at City College Brighton & Hove, won the Society of Editors’ Award for producing the top news interview paper.

Examiners were particularly impressed by Stuart’s use of a strong intro which captured the drama and flowed into the second paragraph. “The story was well-structured, packed with detail and took the reader right through to the end,” they added.

The final award, for the best performance in the news report exam, went to Emma Thomas, a reporter at the Basildon Echo. Emma, 23, who studied her preliminary exams at noSWeat Journalism Training, was presented with the Esso Award after producing what examiners said was “an easy-to-read story which clearly told the reader everything they needed to know.”

They praised Emma for selecting the key details and enhancing them with full accurate strong quotes. “Her report brought the story to life and fully engaged the reader from intro to final paragraph,” the examiners added.

“I was absolutely thrilled when I found out I had won the Esso Award for best news report paper,” Emma said.

“I had a lot of support from my trainer and all my colleagues at the Echo throughout my training. I actually thought I hadn't done that well in my NCE and was preparing for the worst – so this came as a pleasant surprise!”

All of the award winners will receive a certificate and a cheque for £250 to recognise their achievements.

Tara Russell also won an NCTJ Award for Excellence in 2010