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Journalist who began career without A-levels named Trainee of the Year

JP Asher 1A regional sub-editor who embarked on his journalism career without possessing either A-levels or a degree has been named Trainee Journalist of the Year.

JP Asher, who works in editorial production for Archant, received the honour from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at its annual Awards for Excellence this evening.

Students, trainees and apprentices from across the UK were honoured by the NCTJ at a ceremony held at Quendon Hall, in Essex, this evening.

JP’s path into journalism began as a junior apprentice studying at Lambeth College while also working at Stevenage-based weekly The Comet.

As well as passing his Diploma in Journalism exams with flying colours, he also received the best results in the senior National Qualification in Journalism exams, which he sat in November 2017.

JP, pictured, said: “Gaining the qualification while doing real-life journalism work helped me to develop as a reporter very quickly, so that by the end of the two years I already felt like a seasoned member of the team.

“For me, there is no substitute for real experience in the field – and an apprenticeship is an excellent way for an aspiring journalist to benefit from the best of both worlds.”

This year’s Awards for Excellence saw a record-breaking number of entries for the various categories, with 329 submissions in total.

Sky News presenter Sarah Hewson hosts last night’s awards ceremony

The Student Journalist of the Year Award was handed to Brighton Journalist Works’ graduate Gemma Joyce, who now works at social media monitoring company Brandwatch, while Apprentice of the Year was awarded to Megan Baynes, from the Isle of Wight County Press and Highbury College.

And there were two awards for Bronwen Weatherby, who works for the Bristol Post and Bristol Live, after she triumphed n the Trainee News Journalism and Trainee Multimedia Story/Campaign of the Year categories.

Jonathan Baker, founding professor of journalism at the University of Essex, was honoured for his outstanding contribution to journalism training and education with the 2019 NCTJ Chairman’s Award.

Chairman Kim Fletcher said: “Jonathan’s professionalism, high standards and commitment to excellence in journalism, and journalism education and training, is an inspiration to us all.

“Like many previous recipients of my award, Jonathan is proud to be NCTJ trained and qualified, starting as a graduate trainee on the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo and winning the NCTJ award for the best candidate in the north of England.”

After a long career at the BBC, Jonathan began the multimedia journalism degree programme at Essex and ensured the course met the requirements for NCTJ accreditation before stepping down this year.

Also honoured at the ceremony was Abbie Scott, deputy managing editor of the Financial Times, who was presented with the inaugural Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Award after setting up a paid internship scheme for student journalists at the paper.

The full list of winners can be found below:

Student News Journalism
Winner – Jessica Cripps, News Associates London
Highly Commended – Rianna Croxford, Press Association Training

Trainee News Journalism
Winner – Bronwen Weatherby, Bristol Live
Highly Commended – Olivia Tobin, Evening Standard

Student Sports Journalism
Winner – Matt Horsman, St Mary’s University
Highly Commended – Liam Grace, Bournemouth University

Trainee Sports Journalism
Winner – Joe Nicholson, Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail
Highly Commended – Richard Dore, Sportsbeat

Student Features Award
Winner – Hannah Tomes, University of Sheffield
Highly Commended – James Williams, University of Lincoln

Trainee Features Award
Winner – Will Hayward, WalesOnline and Western Mail
Highly Commended – Conor Gogarty, Gloucestershire Live

Student Top Scoop/Exclusive
Winner – Charlotte Gibbons, City of Liverpool College
Highly Commended – Kate Wilsea, Press Association Training

Trainee Top Scoop/Exclusive
Winner – Amy Gibbons, East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star
Highly Commended – Imogen Braddick, Saffron Walden Reporter

Student Multimedia Story/Campaign of the Year
Winner – Dan Sansom, Bournemouth University
Highly Commended – Carmella Haswell, Bournemouth University

Trainee Multimedia Story/Campaign of the Year
Winner – Bronwen Weatherby, Bristol Post
Highly Commended – Alasdair Hooper, Essex Live

Student Project of the Year
Winner – Team Brit – On the Road to Recovery, Michael Haffenden, University of Kent
Highly Commended – The Search for Black Blood, Indya Clayton, University of Kent

Apprentice of the Year
Winner – Megan Baynes, Isle of Wight County Press (Highbury College)

Student Journalist of the Year
Winner – Gemma Joyce, Brighton Journalist Works

Trainee Journalist of the Year
Winner – JP Asher, Eastern Daily Press


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  • November 30, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Well done JP. Odd that you’ve already moved into production though – surely with your record they’d have snapped you up for the EDP.

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  • December 1, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    congratulations to JP in a profession dominated by middle-class graduates. Oddly over the years I have worked with many journos whose “useful” degrees included subjects as marine biology and could not string proper sentences together before the subs showed them the real world.

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