Excellence in journalism celebrated at NCTJ conference

Promising young journalists and photographers were presented with their NCTJ Awards for Excellence at the Journalism Skills Conference in Nottingham today.

Ten awards were given to winners of the news journalism; sports journalism; features; top scoop/exclusive, images and best student publication categories.

Two performance awards, NCTJ Student Journalist of the Year and NCTJ Trainee of the Year, were also presented.

The students and trainees received their awards from Sir Michael Parkinson in front of a host of journalists, editors and tutors at the annual gala dinner, held this year in Nottingham Contemporary.

Announcing the award winners, Kim Fletcher, NCTJ chairman, said: “These young people have demonstrated the hard work, determination and journalistic skills that make them deserving of their awards today and I’ve no doubt they will all go on to achieve great things in their careers.”

He added the judges had been “extremely impressed” by the quality of entries and commended all those who were shortlisted for the awards.

Joe Cooper, who studied at Leeds Trinity University College and now works as a trainee reporter at the Dewsbury Reporter, was the winner of the Student News Journalism Award. Judge Will Gore, deputy managing editor of the London Evening Standard, said:

“His ability to uncover and produce really high quality human-interest stories absolutely stood out. He showed a genuine connection with the subjects of his stories, which clearly enabled him to obtain key material for his reports.”

David Churchill, a reporter at the Croydon Advertiser, came top in the Trainee News Journalism Award. The judges commended his “hard-hitting, public interest stories” and said his ability to take good quality photographs to accompany his articles showed “the kind of multi-skilling so necessary among today’s reporters”.

The winner of the Student Sports Journalism Award was David Lyons, who recently completed the NCTJ-accredited course at Glasgow Caledonian University and is now a news and sports reporter for the Highland News in Aberdeen. His entry featured an article about a European netball tournament in Glasgow, during which he seized the opportunity to interview the former President of Switzerland just months after she stepped down.

Speaking about his win, David said: “It’s a privilege. All the judges are people I really respect and to receive praise from people you hold in such high regard is an honour.”

The Student Features Award went to Jennifer Morris for her “touching, unsentimental first person account” of coping with the death of a parent. Judge Jayne Savva, features editor at Best Magazine, said: “Jennifer's personality shone through and she managed to balance her cheeky irreverent style with enough poignancy to tug on the heartstrings”.

Since completing her NCTJ course at News Associates earlier this year, Jennifer has started work as a trainee reporter at the Surrey Herald.

Hardeep Matharu, who currently works for the Epsom Guardian, won the Trainee Features Award with stories from two of her newspaper’s campaigns. The judges praised her for her “forward thinking attitude”, and said her stories on local issues were a “perfect example of why local papers matter”.

The Top Scoop/Exclusive Award winners were News Associates, London student Adam Knight, and Hartlepool Mail trainee reporter, Dominic Shaw. Judge Graham Dudman, editorial development director at News International, said Adam produced a “cracking revelatory story” on sports betting and also commended Dominic for securing the first interview with back-from-the-dead canoe conman John Darwin after his release from prison, calling it a “riveting read”.

The Student and Trainee Image Awards went to Sheffield College student Joel Goodman, and Derby Telegraph photographer, Alex Cantrill-Jones. Both faced stiff competition in their individual categories but the judges believed their pictures stood out as they were able to capture real feelings and emotions in their work.

A new award, Best Student Publication, was presented for the first time to De Montfort University. Their magazine “Royal Visit” chronicled the Queen’s visit during her Diamond Jubilee year. Judges Dave King, head of news at Sussex Newspapers, and Joy Yates, editor at Hartlepool Mail, described it as “simply stunning”, with well-written, interesting articles and great photographs. They added that it was “a quality publication with a long shelf-life and coffee table appeal”.

Christopher Hoy, who recently completed an NCTJ-accredited MA at the University of Sunderland, scooped this year’s Student Journalist of the Year Award. Christopher passed all his NCTJ exams in the first sitting with A and B grades and achieved 100 wpm shorthand. Since graduating, he has worked with Sky Tyne and Wear, and has had articles published in The Guardian, Sunderland Echo and the Evening Chronicle.

The NCTJ Reporter of the Year Award went to Hannah Upton. Hannah joined The Westmorland Gazette as a trainee reporter having completed the NCTJ-accredited course at the University of Central Lancashire. She passed the NCE earlier this year with the highest marks in the country.

Describing herself as “completely in shock” at winning the award, Hannah said: “Despite the pain of exam day and the months of preparation beforehand, to me the NCE is a must. I think the NCTJ's training programme provides a solid foundation for a career in journalism.”

Download 2012 Awards for Excellence winners