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Facebook-funded reporters named among top new senior journalists

Amy AustinTwo Facebook-funded reporters and a trainee who rose to the position of news editor have been honoured for being top performers in their senior journalism exams.

The National Council for the Training of Journalists has rewarded the best performances during the 2021-22 academic year’s sittings of the National Qualification in Journalism.

Among the winners are Sarah Hussain, of the Eastern Daily Press, and Wales Online’s Lewis Smith, who landed their roles under the Community News Project, which is administered by the NCTJ and funded by Facebook owner Meta.

Amy Austin, now news editor at FTAdvisor from the Financial Times, scooped the practical journalism skills award after taking part in the “specialist brand publishing pathway”, launched as part of the NQJ this year.

The pathway allows candidates to demonstrate their awareness of how to use editorial content to build their publication’s brand, and the assessment is a feature package for the candidate’s own title that involves hours of research and interviewing before writing up a final piece on the day.

Amy, pictured, said: “I am so shocked to hear this news but absolutely over the moon.

“I am so grateful to all my colleagues who helped me through my training and exams and I am beyond thrilled that all my hard work has paid off.”

Sarah, who studied for her gold standard diploma with Bournemouth University as a community news reporter, was praised by the moderator for having “no weaknesses” in her answers in the media law and ethics in practice exam.

She said: “I am honoured to receive this award. I was determined to get the NQJ after joining the industry and am delighted to have turned that ambition into a reality, particularly following the challenges of training during the pandemic.

“This recognition makes that achievement even sweeter.”

Lewis, who who studied for his diploma at Darlington College and is now a local democracy reporter covering Bridgend and Neath Port Talbo, was praised by the moderator for his award-winning e-logbook, which was “well-crafted and hit all key criteria”.

He said: “Completing the NQJ has been one of the most challenging yet satisfying experiences of my life.

“Throughout the qualification I was able to learn a wide range of skills I will need to work as a senior reporter and can’t wait to put them to good use in the coming years.”

Each winner receives a certificate and a prize of £750 from their awards’ respective sponsors – Esso, Reviewed and Cleared, and Newsquest.