Four newly-qualified senior reporters are celebrating after winning awards for exceptional performance in the November National Certificate Examination.
Jasmin McDermott from the Southend Evening Echo won the Ted Bottomley Award, sponsored by Midland News Association for her newspaper practice exam.
The examiners said that Jasmin’s paper “had an excellent all-round approach.” They also added: “The law answer showed knowledge and how to apply it. When it came to the part B answers these had been well thought out. Jasmin adopted a good strategy to both answers that would have produced sound coverage.”
Jasmin, who completed her prelims at Harlow College, said: “I am amazed that I have won this award, I can’t believe I got the highest newspaper practice mark, when traditionally it is one of the hardest exam and I owe it all to McNae and my trainer Chris Hatton.”
Benjamin Wilkinson, who trained at the University of Sheffield and now works at the Oxford Mail, won the Esso Award for his performance in the news report.
The examiners praised Ben’s paper, saying it “had a good selection of key facts. The background he included provided good context which was enhanced by well-chosen, strong quotes and reported speech.”
Ben said: "I am obviously very pleased to have won this award. I was chuffed to have passed such a tough set of exams and so to get a prize too is an unexpected, but more than welcome, bonus.
“Thanks must go to my news editors as their strict intolerance of bad copy has no doubt helped with this. They are probably now owed a drink."
Previous Journalism Diversity Fund recipient, Sam Smith of the Brentwood Gazette, won the Society of Editors’ Award for his news interview.
He was commended for presenting a very comprehensive story. The examiners said: “He did not go for the run of the mill intro and focused on the anguish of the mother losing her son.
“There was the strong quote from the mother and he included the death of the boys’ father. Sam was very ordered polite and thorough in his questioning and asked questions of the interviewee that other candidates did not. The result was a well-structured story that flowed well and took the reader through from start to end.”
Sam, who studied at News Associates, said: “Naturally I’m delighted to receive the award, if a little surprised! It was a lot of effort preparing for the exams, but it seems to have paid off. Passing first time and getting an award – clearly Christmas has come early.”
Finally, Jennifer Stanton of the Surrey Advertiser received the Newsquest Award for her logbook.
The examiners praised her work, saying: “Jennifer produced an impressive winning logbook among a host of very strong submissions. The logbook did all the basic things brilliantly, showed impeccable presentation and was both easy to mark and a joy to read.”
Jennifer said: "The NCTJ sent me my results on Wednesday and I was thrilled to have passed, but to win this award is brilliant.
"I worked incredibly hard to produce a good logbook, although I never imagined it would be the best in the country. Thank you to everyone at the Surrey Advertiser who gave me so much support leading up to my exams."
Jennifer had previously completed her preliminary training at De Montfort University.
All the award winners receive a cheque for £250 and a certificate of achievement.