July NCE awards feature one of the highest newspaper practice marks in recent years

Picture: Mary Hamilton, a reporter for the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, was the winner of the NCTJ's Ted Bottomley Award for newspaper practice.


Mary Hamilton, a reporter for the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, won the NCTJ’s Ted Bottomley Award, sponsored by Midland News Association, after scoring 90 per cent on her newspaper practice exam. She is no stranger to success, having also won last year’s NCTJ Student Journalist of the Year Award.


The chief examiner said Mary produced a textbook example of how to tackle the newspaper practice paper. “It was a comprehensive law answer citing relevant cases and law, followed by practice answers that clearly demonstrated her imagination and ability,” he added.


“It is clear that she is already putting into practice the skills that the newspaper practice paper looks for. It was one of the highest newspaper practice scores in recent years and a very impressive performance.”


Speaking about her award, Mary, who completed her preliminary training at the Press Association in Newcastle, said: “I thought I had done well, but wasn’t sure how well. It felt like it was probably my strongest exam on what was a stressful day. I was very surprised when I saw that I’d got 90 per cent though.”


There was double joy for Kimberly Middleton, a reporter for West Briton, as she scooped awards for both the news report exam and logbook. Kimberley scored the highest mark in each, securing the Esso Award for her news report and the Newsquest Award for her logbook.


 Reacting to the news, she said: “It was unbelievable to win two awards. I didn’t expect it at all, not in my wildest dreams. I’m thrilled to pass all four exams first time.” Asked how she had prepared for the exams, Kimberly said she had been revising as much as possible before the exam because she was determined to pass. “Some days I was revising an hour before work and then 5 or 6 hours afterwards because I didn’t want to fail,” she said.





The examiner said Kimberly’s news report was a strong, well-written story, with a good level of detail. It was clear from her quotes that she demonstrated sound, accurate shorthand. Referring to her “impressive” logbook, he said: “Kimberly is a tenacious reporter who is firm but fair when covering her patch. The highlight included a good entry for the numeracy section, and a strong submission for the trainees’ choice which scored highly.”


The Society of Editors’ Award for the news interview went to Stephanie Steward of the Tameside Reporter. “Stephanie’s logical interviewing technique laid the foundation for well-structured, evocative copy. In particular, the balance of quotes and reported speech worked well,” the chief examiner said. He thought she produced a comprehensive account of what happened, focusing on all the salient facts at the right points in the story.




Kimberly completed her NCTJ course at Bournemouth University and Stephanie at Sheffield College.




The reward for the winners of each category is a £250 prize from the sponsor of their award.