Analysis: Student Journalism Prizes

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The Independent Online

Do the gongs matter? Daniel Henry checks up on former winners of National Union of Students/Daily Mirror prizes, just announced

Sam Southgate

PHOTOJOURNALIST OF THE YEAR 2004

Southgate had always seen his photography for the York University paper, Nouse, as secondary to his writing. Having pinned his hopes on winning the NUS best feature writer prize, Southgate was shocked that his side project had eclipsed his initial goal. After completing a philosophy degree at York University, Southgate has gone on to become a reporter for the York Evening Press, and is studying for a National Council for the Training of Journalists certificate at Darlington. He claims that winners of the student journalism prize "have a passion for it".

Paul Gallagher

PAPER OF THE YEAR/DIVERSITY AWARD 2002

After bringing Leeds Student to a glorious double awards win as editor in 2002, Gallagher passed on the complementary placement that came with the honour to another writer at his paper. He spent four months in Brussels freelancing for the European Voice before applying for the Daily Mirror's three-year trainee scheme, which he will complete in January. After working on some the biggest stories of the year - the Abigail Witchalls stabbing, Mark Hobson's murder trial, and the 7 July London bombings - Gallagher hopes to gain a staff job at the Mirror.

James Kettle

FEATURE WRITER OF THE YEAR 2002

Since collecting the trophy and spending the prize money on "beer and women", Kettle has devoted to himself to comedy writing, a field he cherishes as his "first love". Influenced by Woody Allen and Monty Python, James wrote for the topical Radio 2 showParsons & Naylor's Pull-Out Sections this year. He also featured in a stage show, News Revue, which played in Edinburgh and London. Having toured the capital doing stand-up, Kettle was nominated for a BBC new comedy award this month. See www.jameskettle.co.uk for his next appearance.

Rob Harris

REPORTER OF THE YEAR 2003

Tipped for the top in an analysis of student newspapers on these pages earlier this year, Harris has won both the Guardian and Daily Mirror student journalism prizes. After working for Sky News, Harris is now a regular freelance for The Guardian. Advising other student journalists to "try to reach the highest standards", and to "treat their press as a professional product", Harris believes that student papers should be seen as a credible alternative to journalism apprenticeships. He hopes to break into news.

Henry Day

ARTS WRITER OF THE YEAR 2002

As Day missed out on winning the prize one year earlier, a grandiose speech when he finally walked off with the trophy could have been excused. But instead he ran on, snatched the award and made a swift exit. Day has since worked for the Daily Mirror, The Independent on Sunday, contributed to Q magazine and spent a year as an intern at the London Review of Books. Highlighting Ryan Gilbey as a journalistic hero, Day is currently studying for a PhD in classics. He plans to keep writing.

Allen Cooper

SPORTS WRITER OF THE YEAR 2003

Since his prize-winning evening, Cooper went on to work for Barnsley FC official match-day radio show as a pitch-side reporter while still a student. Having completed a degree in business and economics at Leeds University, he decided against a job in the media, taking a position with Ventura, a customer service company that works with Sky, O2 and British Gas. He believes sports editors at national newspapers have an easier job than their student counterparts, due to the comparative quality of copy that they have to deal with.

Jake Morris

REPORTER OF THE YEAR 2004

After the award ceremony Morris discovered that he had not only been crowned reporter of the year, but also that his application for the Daily Mirror trainee scheme had been successful. Now enjoying the "amazing learning curve" and covering stories that he "never thought" he would, Morris has his eyes set on completing the Mirror's three-year scheme and breaking into the professional arena.

Andrew Dickson

SPORTS WRITER OF THE YEAR 2001

Surprised at his win, Dickson said that he was the only person to take his dad to the ceremony. A journalism graduate from the University of Central Lancashire, Dickson has gone full circle and is now a judge for the student journalism prizes. Currently a sports writer for the Aberdeen Press and Journal, he has also written for the Scottish Sun. Andrew claims that judges look for "originality, maturity, confidence and a willingness to be different".

Lila Allen

BEST STUDENT CAMPAIGN 2004

As editor of the London Student, Lila narrowly missed out on the Paper of the Year award. In spite of mobilising some 1,000 students into demonstrating against top-up fees, Lila claims that she "wasn't expecting" to win the best campaign gong. She now prepares press packs for the Foreign Office on behalf of Durrants, the media monitoring agency, which first started offering a press cuttings service back in 1880. Allen is also taking a National Council for the Training of Journalists distance-learning course.

Guy Adams

REPORTER OF THE YEAR 2000

Not enough student papers "make their readers say 'gee whizz' and drop their marmalade sandwiches", claims Adams, a former swashbuckling editor of the Sheffield University paper Steel Press. Now the Pandora gossip column editor at The Independent, Adams graduated after winning Student Journalist of the Year with The Guardian in 1999 and 2000 as well as collecting the NUS accolade. Despite the lack of "gee whizz" student press stories, Adams says that campus journalism "gives a broad grounding in the basics of pulling together a paper".

Andy Bell

PAPER OF THE YEAR 1978

As editor of the Birmingham University newspaper the Birmingham Sun, Andy won the prize as a postgraduate student. Bell has been deputy editor for Red Tape, the Civil and Public Services Association publication, and news editor at Time Out. Bell has researched and produced World in Action, winning two awards. Now deputy editor of Panorama, Bell has supervised investigations into horse racing, corruption at the Olympics, and elderly care. His unflinching work has led to death threats, which is why he asks that his picture is not reproduced.

Steve Bloomfield

REPORTER OF THE YEAR 2001

During his time at the Liverpool Student, Steve contributed to all kinds of stories, from investigations into how the university owned shares in arms companies, to out-of-date-beer being sold at the sports ground. Bloomfield has turned a two-week placement at The Independent into a full-time writing position on the Sunday paper. His work has also made a cover line on GQ magazine. Bloomfield believes that people who leave university wanting to go into journalism without writing for their student newspaper "don't want it enough".

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