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Trainee’s news report was a ‘joy to read’

A journalist whose news report was described by judges as a “joy to read” has won an award after passing his NCE to gain senior status.

Benjamin O’Connell of the Northumberland Gazette, pictured left, was awarded the Esso Award for his news report, winning a £250 prize.

The judges said he had “a very thorough report with excellent choice of detail, good accurate quotes and written in a bright lively style” and said it was “a joy to read.”

Ben was one of four exceptional candidates recognised by the National Council for the Training of Journalists for their performances in the November NCE exam which saw the pass rate rise to 53pc.

Other prizewinners for the best exam papers were Lauren Potts of the Pontefract and Castleford Express, Tessa Watkins of the Reading Chronicle and Sam Bannister of The News, Portsmouth.

Lauren won the Ted Bottomley Award, sponsored by Midland News Association, for her newspaper practice exam.

Judges said a number of candidates were potential winners but decided her paper had the edge.

They said: “The law answer was excellent, showing good knowledge and application. Her part B answers were consistent with sensible sources and questions that would have produced good coverage both for all media.”

Tessa was given the Society of Editors’ Award for for her news interview for a “pacy and accurate” story which captured the drama of an explosion at a shopping mall.

The judges said: “She covered all aspects of the story, from her strong intro which set the scene, and progressed through the good chronology.

“Her story flowed and was readable from start to finish. The panel was pleased with Tessa’s use of language and excellent level of detail.”

Sam won the Newsquest Award for his logbook, with judges saying his entry was among a number of very strong submissions.

They said: “Presentation of this logbook was excellent and the content superb, a real example to those preparing to submit their own work.

“Among the impressive key tasks was a fascinating news backgrounder and strong submissions for writing to pictures and family events. A deserved overall winner.”