A journalist working for a South Coast weekly is celebrating after winning two of the four prizes for outstanding papers in the National Certificate Examination.
Rob Alderson from the Hastings and St Leonards Observer has achieved the best News Interview Award and the News Report Award after sitting the exams in March – winning a prize of £250 each from respective sponsors the Society of Editors and Esso.
26-year-old Rob, who studied an NCTJ-accredited course at Cardiff University, is among 49 journalists to gain senior status after passing the NCE.
Gemma Casey of the Wilts & Gloucestershire Standard won the Ted Bottomley Award, sponsored by Midland News Association, for the best Newspaper Practice exam, while Jon Livesey of the Lancashire Telegraph won the Newsquest Award for the top Logbook.
Rob said: “It’s all a bit surreal to win the awards. I felt the interview had gone quite well but I thought I had tied myself in knots on the news report.
“But I am made up and I hope it shows just how good a traineeship you can get on a weekly paper – you tend to get a lot more experience a lot more quickly in a place like Hastings,”
The examiners said Rob’s News Interview story “caught all the drama” of a tragic tale, praising him for his impressive coverage of the emotion of the event and for using all the facts to produce “a thoroughly readable story”.
In the News Report exam, they said he combined the skills of accurate reporting with an excellent news sense to produce a story that was “head and shoulders above the rest”.
Gemma, 23, who is also a Cardiff University post-graduate, was praised by examiners for her excellent understanding of law in the Newspaper Practice paper, with a “near-perfect” answer for part A, while her Part B also demonstrated “a good understanding of how a modern reporter must think and work”.
She said: “I am thrilled to win the Ted Bottomley Award, it is an amazing feeling to know that the hard work paid off. It is an honour to win an award named after a fantastic journalist like Mr Bottomley.”
Examiners highlighted Jon’s Logbook for his mature and “easy to read style”, saying he showed impressive storytelling skill.
Jon, 28, said: “I’m thrilled to win the logbook award. People often tell me I can be retentive, but my obsessive attention to detail seems to have paid off this time.
“I’ve had some excellent training, both at the University of Central Lancashire, where I did my post-graduate diploma in print journalism, and at the Lancashire Telegraph, where my colleagues have given me some extremely helpful tips.”