Outstanding student, trainee and apprentice journalists celebrated in virtual NCTJ Awards for Excellence ceremony, hosted by Sky News

Student, trainee and apprentice journalists have been honoured in the NCTJ Awards for Excellence virtual ceremony, hosted by Sky News.

A record-breaking 417 entries were received across 15 categories, in addition to the 1,161 students and trainees eligible for performance awards.

The virtual ceremony, which was live streamed on YouTube this evening, was presented by Sky News presenter Anna Botting.

Addressing the shortlisted entrants, who enjoyed the ceremony together in a VIP watch party, Anna said: “What a year it has been – the coronavirus outbreak has changed our world beyond all recognition.

“Yet through it all, journalists persevere to report on how the changing world affects every day lives; and NCTJ students and trainees continue to train to be journalists of the future.

“It is something to be commended and celebrated: working and learning throughout these times of Government restrictions, proving skills of adaptability, teamwork, communication and innovation.”

Anna announced each category and the shortlisted entrants before cutting to Sky News and Sky Sports presenters from all over the world to announce each winner. Some famous names included Alex Crawford, Dharmesh Sheth, John Sparks and Sophy Ridge.

Journalists, employers and trainers who have gone the extra mile were also celebrated with two awards to recognise achievements in innovation and diversity.

News Associates won the Innovation of the Year award for the course team’s efforts in adapting teaching styles and exercises for remote learning, which was described by the judges as ‘impressive, innovative and pioneering’.

The whole team kept morale up for students by encouraging themed fancy dress in lessons, online shorthand study groups in the evening and Zoom yoga session run by a part-time student.

Sponsored by the Financial Times, the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion award was presented to The Star, Sheffield, thanks to the team’s efforts in working towards a diverse workforce.

Initiatives included community reporter Errol Edwards’ coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests and writing about his own experiences of racism in Sheffield.

Awards for the best-performing Community News Project reporter, apprentice, student and trainee journalists were presented by John Ryley, head of Sky News.

The Facebook-funded Community News Project award, which seeks to recognise the exceptional work done by reporters recruited by the project, was won by Oliver Kemp from KentOnline.

Oliver, who studied at the University of Kent, was praised by the judges for his analysis of refugee arrivals on the Kent coast, which brought a fresh, sympathetic and local perspective to an international issue. Oliver will receive prize money of £500 from award sponsor Facebook.

The apprentice of the year award is awarded following nominations from employers and trainers. The judges praised those on the shortlist for the high standard of work, which was impressive and wide-ranging.

The award was presented to Poppie Webster, who studied at Darlington College and works at the Basildon Echo. Poppie achieved a distinction in her apprenticeship results, and was described by her news editor as a “beacon of light” and “simply a star”. Poppie will receive prize money of £500 from award sponsor Mark Allen Group.

This year’s student journalist of the year is David Marriott, who studied at The University of Sheffield. David achieved the best overall Diploma in Journalism results, with an impressive seven As and shorthand at 100wpm. David will receive prize money of £500 from award sponsor The Independent.

Trainee journalist of the year was awarded to Jacob Thorburn from The Comet, who joined Archant in 2019 as an apprentice and completed his diploma with PA Training. Jacob achieved the best overall results in the National Qualification in Journalism out of all the candidates sitting in 2019-20. He achieved a distinction in all three assessments.

Jacob will receive prize money of £500 from award sponsor Brunswick Group.

The full list of winners and commedations, and links to all entries, can be found here.