Celebrations for first NQJ award winners

Four newly qualified senior reporters are celebrating after winning awards for exceptional performance in the March National Qualification for Journalists (NQJ).

Connie Primmer from the Luton News won the Ted Bottomley Award, sponsored by Midland News Association, for her media law and practice exam (formerly the newspaper practice exam).

The examiners praised Connie’s paper, saying: “Sound law knowledge and good awareness of ethical issues are vital commodities in the news room. The three candidates who were considered for this award showed this in abundance, as was reflected in their high marks.

“What swung it for Connie was a quite exceptional ethics answer on top of first-rate law. Her approach to this question was sensitive and sensible, weighing up the problems, why they were issues, and what should be done. These questions are unlikely to produce a perfect answer, but Connie came very close. Congratulations!”

Connie, who trained at News Associates in Manchester, said: “"I am absolutely delighted. Passing the NQJ was a fantastic achievement in itself, and to have won a prize as well is a dream come true. I'm lucky to work with a brilliant team at the Luton News who have all helped me tremendously as I've worked towards my NQJ. I can't believe I've won a prize and I am really happy."

Victoria Prest, who completed her NCTJ training at the University of Strathclyde and now works at the Ripon Gazette, won the Esso Award for her performance in the news report.

The examiners said Victoria had produced “a well-written story with excellent selection of detail.” They added: “In Part B, Victoria demonstrated a mature grasp of news room procedure, combined with news sense and a touch of flair.”

Victoria said: “I am delighted and surprised to hear I have won this award. It was a tough exam and I did not know what to expect from the results. It was a nerve-wracking wait, and I am pleased to be qualified as a senior reporter.

"I owe my trainers and colleagues who supported and encouraged me a big thank you, and I'm looking forward to working as a senior reporter."

Daniel O’Brien of the Barnett Press won the Society of Editors Award for his news interview

He was commended by the examiners, who said: “Daniel wrote an excellent story in a clear, simple style. His introduction was strong, followed by a good second paragraph which hooked the reader. The story flowed well and contained the ‘must-have’ information the marker was looking for. The quotes were well used and the copy also captured the drama of the incident.”

Daniel, who studied at the University of Sheffield, said: “After a month of fretting I was delighted just to have passed the NQJ, so getting an award is a very welcome bonus. This is hopefully the last exam I will have to sit for a good while and I'm glad to have finished it on a
high.”

Finally, Timothy Harris of the Aldershot News & Mail received the Newsquest Award for his logbook. He previously completed his NCTJ diploma at Cardiff University in 2011.

The examiners said: “A very well presented logbook with especially strong submissions in the courts and public events and family events sections. It also included a textbook entry for the often difficult numeracy key task. Safely written but with style, this was a good submission and contained key tasks that can be used as a good point of reference by future candidates.

Timothy said: "This is a real honour. I was bowled over to hear I had been awarded the prize. I put many hours of hard graft into the logbook over a number of months and it feels great to have that effort recognised. Thank you so much."

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