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Journalist overcomes memory struggles to win media law award

Ellis WhitehouseA newly qualified senior journalist who struggles with his memory says his award-winning media law exam performance is “nothing short of flabbergasting”.

Ellis Whitehouse, left, of the Maldon and Burnham Standard, was one of four candidates to win performance-related prizes after the November National Qualification in Journalism examinations.

He was joined by JP Asher, of Stevenage-based weekly The Comet, who won the Esso Award for the best news report, Worthing Herald journalist Huw Oxburgh, who won the Society of Editors’ Award for the best news interview, and Wesley Holmes, of Blackpool daily The Gazette, who won the Newsquest Award for the best e-logbook.

The moderator for the media law and practice exam said Ellis, who completed a fast-track diploma at News Associates Manchester last year, wrote “an excellent all-round paper, with easy-to-follow answers and no problem areas”.

Ellis himself said: “I’ve often had to work my brain overtime for exams, as my memory and application is not as strong as others, so to be the highest achiever for the entire country for media law and practice is nothing short of flabbergasting.

“Credit must go to my terrific news editor Adam Cornell who knows every scrap of law you can imagine off by heart and has helped me enormously with court reporting and other criminal details.

“Reporting in court and inquests is something I’ve really grown to enjoy in this role, and this award shows that I’m clearly doing something right.”

Adam said: “Ellis did exceptionally well and is fully deserving of the award. He worked extremely hard to make sure he not only understood the law but how to apply it in practice.”

John AsherJP, left, was described as a “clear winner” for the news report section, with “an eye for delivering a hard-hitting factual report, supported with valid and interesting ideas”.

JP, who began his Level 3 Junior Journalist Apprenticeship at Lambeth College in 2015, said: “To win this national prize a mere two years after starting as an apprentice is just great – and I’m delighted to have done it with my hometown paper.

“I’d like to thank The Comet’s editor Nick Gill and our now-retired boss John Francis for believing in me and giving me this chance.”

Huw OxHuw, right, was praised by the moderator for producing an “excellent story” which “flowed all the way through”.

A graduate from Cardiff University’s MA in newspaper journalism course in 2015, Hugh said: “I’m thrilled to be chosen for this award and it comes as a really pleasant surprise. I owe a huge thanks to everyone I’ve worked with for the last few years, for giving me tonnes of help and support.”

Wesley’s logbook was described as “a body of work which shows a candidate with an excellent grasp of all the key components needed to build an interesting and fully rounded story”.

Wesley HolmesThe 2015 graduate from Darlington College, left, said: “I am incredibly pleased to receive this award. I couldn’t have achieved this without the guidance of my news editors.

“I’d like to think this is a reflection of the effort put in by the Blackpool Gazette team every day regardless of the challenges we might face.”

Each winner receives a £250 prize.