Pace, drama and excellent shorthand are the hallmarks of award-winning NCE reports

Four newly-qualified senior journalists are to be rewarded for their excellent performance in the November 2009 National Certificate Examination.

Pace and drama were the hallmarks of the report which won the Society of Editors’ award for News Interview.

James Beal of the Bridgwater Mercury won the award and he will receive a cheque for £250.

James said: “I am absolutely delighted to win this prize. I think it shows the value of learning my trade on such a strong local newspaper like the Bridgwater Mercury.”

The exam moderator said: “James demonstrates all the core values of a good reporter.

“He’s a comprehensive and interested interviewer who knows how to tell a cracking story. His copy has pace and drama from start to finish with a great mix of narrative and emotive quotes.”

The Esso award for the News Report was won by Jenny Grant of the Essex Chronicle, who will also receive a prize of £250.

The News Report exam centred on the impact a new high-speed rail line would have on the fictional town of Fincham.

Jenny said: “I’m overjoyed, I really didn’t expect to win the award. I’ve written quite a few stories about railways since I started work as a reporter and I think it really did help to draw on experience.”

The exam moderator said Jenny’s report was: “A well-constructed story encompassing all the key points and demonstrating an excellence in shorthand.”

The Ted Bottomley award for the Newspaper Practice exam, sponsored by the Midland News Association, was won by Samuel Blackledge of the Surrey Advertiser.

Sam said: “It’s a nerve wracking experience sitting the NCE and the newspaper practice is the first exam, so it’s important to get a good start. I felt I was very well prepared by the refresher course I attended, the trainer gave me so many useful pointers.”

Speaking of his work the exam moderator said: “A very impressive paper in which the candidate combined a very good law answer with two excellent practice answers.

“What was particularly impressive was the breadth and quality of ideas Samuel came up with for the scenarios in the questions.”

The Newsquest award for the best Logbook was won by Jonathan Birkin of the Derby Telegraph.

Jonathan said: “I found the logbook a very useful exercise when you are training. To know you have the logbook to complete makes you work to a high standard, it makes you a better journalist.”

The chief examiner said: “This was a hugely impressive logbook and a clear winner. The presentation was superb and the copy was clean with very few changes.”

Sam and Jonathan will both receive a cheque for £250 for securing their awards.

The chief examiner for the NCE also made special mention of Catherine Dalton of the Express and Star, who did not win any of the individual exam prizes, but who achieved the highest overall NCE mark.

James completed his preliminary training at Darlington College; Jenny went to Harlow College; Samuel completed his training at News Associates in London; Jonathan, at Norton College, Sheffield; and Catherine completed her preliminary training at the Midland News Association.

Winners of two annual awards for outstanding performance in the NCE have also been announced.

The Pamela Meyrick Award was awarded to Victoria Carr of the Harrogate Advertiser and Wetherby News.

The award is presented to the best NCE candidate working for a newspaper in the North of England or North Wales. This award is given by Nicola Meyrick, daughter of Pamela Meyrick in memory of her mother. Pamela Meyrick was the first woman reporter on the Rochdale Observer from 1944 to 1948 before moving to London to work on magazines.

The TS Murray award was awarded to Leanna MacLarty of the Press and Journal, Aberdeen.

This award is presented to the best performance in the spring, summer and autumn NCE exams by a candidate employed by a Scottish newspaper. The award is presented by the Society of Editors (Scotland).

Victoria completed her preliminary training at Norton College, Sheffield; Leanna MacLarty completed hers at the Scottish Centre for Journalism Studies.

BBC Scotland presenter Sally Magnusson won the TS Murray award in 1980 and at the recent Journalism Skills Conference in Glasgow she revealed the award still hangs in pride of place on her wall.