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July NQJ: Award-winning new senior hopes she has made late father ‘proud’

A top performing newly qualified senior journalist says she hopes she has made her late father “proud” after being honoured for her efforts following last month’s National Qualification in Journalism examinations.

Kirstie Smith, of the Leamington Spa Courier, was one of four new seniors to receive prizes for their exam performance – winning the Esso news report award.

Kirstie’s new senior status comes as she takes on 25 challenges this year to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK in memory of her dad.

The moderator described Kirstie as demonstrating “a good, solid all-round approach to both sections, producing a vibrant, accurate story with sound suggestions”.

Clockwise from top right: Kirstie Smith, Keri Trigg, Taz Ali and Isabella Cipirska

Clockwise from top right: Kirstie Smith, Keri Trigg, Taz Ali and Isabella Cipirska

Kirstie, who studied at Cardiff University, said: “To be named as having one of the best submissions is just amazing and I am completely blown away. Throughout the year I have been taking on 25 challenges to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK in memory of my dad. To pass these exams whilst I have been doing these challenges is just amazing. I hope I have made my dad proud.

“I would like to thank my editor Phil Hibble, my former editor Chris Lillington, my trainer John Wilson and the amazing team we have at our office. I would also like to give a shout out to my lecturers on my journalism course at Cardiff University.”

A total of 36 candidates sat the NQJ at five centres across the country, with 17 candidates achieving the qualification.

The other award winners were Isabella Cipirska, of the Worthing Herald, who won the media law award, the Shropshire Star’s Keri Trigg, who claimed the Society of Editors news interview award, and Taz Ali, of the Eastern Daily Press, who took the Newsquest e-logbook award.

Isabella was called a “worthy winner” by the moderator, who added her response was “a joy of a paper that was near to perfection”.

Isabella, who completed her Diploma in Journalism at Brighton Journalist Works, said: “I’m thrilled to have won the award for my media law exam and so relieved to have passed the NQJ overall. The exams are really tough and it was stressful to sit three in one day, so I’m delighted that all the hard work has paid off.”

Keri’s news interview exam was described as “error free” and “a great read” which was “well constructed”, “captured the drama of the incident” and contained “lots of salient facts”.

Keri, a University of Sheffield alumna, said: “I was so happy to find out I had passed the NQJ first time, especially as I thought I might have failed the news interview exam – so to find out I had won the award in this category was a huge shock.

“One of my colleagues won the same award in the last sitting, so that must say something about the Shropshire Star and our trainer, Crispin Clark.”

The moderator said Taz’s e-logbook submission had shown “a breadth of talent, adding “judges were particularly impressed by strong submissions in the trainee’s choice key tasks which showed well developed story-telling and a keen eye for detail”.

Taz, who studied at City of Wolverhampton College, said: “I am thrilled to have won the award, I am really proud of the stories I have done with the Eastern Daily Press and I could not have done it without the incredible people I work with.

“I’d like to give special thanks to Andrew Papworth, Chris Bishop and Ian Burt, who have given me great support and advice along the way. I’ve had a brilliant start to my career and can’t wait to take on new challenges in the future.”

All four winners receive £250.

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  • August 14, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Well done KIrstie, that could not have been easy. A great tribute for your dad. and congrats to all those who did pass.

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