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News Associates graduates make up quarter of NCTJ Awards for Excellence 2021 shortlist

Patricia Cruz



A quarter of all journalists on the NCTJ Awards for Excellence 2021 shortlist are graduates.

An incredible 17 out of 66 nominations on the prestigious shortlist – whittled down from a record 481 entries – studied for their NCTJ at in London or Manchester.

 staff and trainees at the NCTJ Awards for Excellence in Sunderland in 2019. The selection of eight trainees, staff and guests are all very smartly dressed. shortlisted graduates alongside staff at the NCTJ Awards for Excellence ceremony in 2019

Paul Kilbey (Manchester part-time grad and freelance journalist) and Elaine McCallig (London fast-track grad and journalist at The Independent) make up a third of the student of the year award nominations which recognises the graduate who achieved the best exam results nationally in the diploma in journalism.

Previously graduates Anna Schaverien (2017), Sara Oldfield (2016) and George Gigney (2015) have taken home this award.

Elaine said: “I’m absolutely over the moon to be shortlisted for such a prestigious award. A massive thank you to the tutors at for all the support, mentoring, and laughs along the way.

“I made friends for life at and I learned so much that I now use day-to-day in my job at The Independent.”

Paul said: “I’m thrilled to be nominated for the student of the year award, particularly because I received the news about an hour after a job rejection. Doing the diploma course part-time while keeping up my freelance work was really tough, but also rewarding, and I’m very grateful to Manchester.”

There is at least one alumni in each of the six main categories – news, sports, top scoop, features, podcast journalism and data journalism.

London part-time grad David Averre (Mail Online) features twice in the shortlist – once against fast-track grad Neha Gohil (The News Movement) up for student news journalism and once alongside sports journalism grad Tomás Hill Lopez-Menchero (Times Sport) for student sports journalist of the year.

David said: “I’ve been afforded with some fantastic opportunities in 2021, and to be shortlisted for an NCTJ Award for Excellence in both news and sports journalism really is the icing on the cake.

“I am hugely appreciative of the team at , who played a major role in helping me achieve this and opened a lot of doors for me!”

Tomás said: “I’m really pleased to be shortlisted for the sports journalism award. I had a great time studying for my NCTJ at and the best thing about the course was meeting so many like-minded people, each with their own unique area of sporting interest.

“I’m grateful to for having delivered the best possible learning experience during the pandemic and for all the opportunities the course gave me.”

London sports journalism alumni Josh Graham after his win in 2020

In 2020, student sports journalist of the year was awarded to London sports journalism graduate Josh Graham (Sportsbeat), who pipped course mate Rachel Steinberg (Sportsbeat) to the post – who is now representing in the trainee category!

Rachel said: “Wow! What an honour to be recognised by the NCTJ for the second year in a row. I’m especially proud to have made the shortlist with three stories covering the breadth of women’s sport, from football to motorsport and the Paralympics.

“I’m hugely grateful to Sportsbeat for giving me a limitless platform as one of the few people in the UK lucky enough to cover women’s sport full time – though I really hope that will soon no longer be such a rare thing to say!”

graduates made up the entire shortlist for the student sports journalist of the year category in 2020

London fast-track and part-time graduates Phoebe Dampare Osei (Yahoo News UK) and Sophia Alexandra Hall (Classic FM) are up against each other in the student top scoop category – while Sophia is also recognised on the equality, diversity and inclusion award shortlist!

Phoebe said: “I’m thrilled to have been shortlisted for the top scoop award. I want to thank for giving me the best possible foundation for my career and Yahoo UK for supporting me on my journey.”

Sophia said: “I was pretty hesitant when my tutors recommended I apply for the NCTJ awards, so hesitant in fact, that I waited until the final day to apply. But I’m so glad I did, as it’s incredibly affirming to have been shortlisted in two separate categories.

“I’m proud to be representing both #TeamNA and the JDF. Both parties have been so important to the start of my journalism career and I’m so grateful for their support. I can’t wait for the ceremony next year and I’m looking forward to meeting all the journalists shortlisted as well as the industry leader judges.”

It’s Manchester versus London with Callum Gaunt (Lancashire Telegraph) and Helen Brown (freelance) both up for student features, alongside Manchester fast-track alumna Dani Cole (Manchester Mill) in the trainee category.

Dani said: “I am absolutely delighted to be shortlisted. It means a lot as I took a leap of faith and changed careers to become a journalist. There’s no doubt that doing the fast-track NCTJ course with has helped me get where I am today.

“The skills I’ve learned have been invaluable. I would like to extend my deepest thanks to everyone at Manchester for their support and expertise, and also to the Journalism Diversity Fund.”

Last year, Alex Diggins (Telegraph) of London part-time fame took home the gong for student feature writer of the year 2020.

Judges described Alex’s articles as ‘beautifully written, very interesting and totally absorbing’

Elsewhere and London fast-track alumna Carolina Herranz-Carr (ITV) is up for trainee podcast journalist of the year alongside journalists from Winchester Today and NewsShopper.

Carolina said: “I’m incredibly exited to be nominated in the podcast journalism category! I launched true crime podcast Trial by Media with fellow trainee Charlie Jones following our time at .

“Certainly, the media law and court reporting skills gathered at played a huge part in making this project possible.”  

Graduates from a whole host of cohorts are representing in the digital journalism categories.

Jacklin Kwan (Manchester fast-track) and Natasha Livingstone (London part-time) make up 50% of the student category while Matilda Martin (London fast-track) also makes up half of the trainee nominations!

Jacklin (freelance) said: “I’m beyond honoured to be shortlisted in this year’s awards. It seems like just yesterday I began taking my journalism dream seriously.

“I honestly couldn’t have found a more supportive place to begin my journey than New Associates. The skills and knowledge I learnt from the tutors and staff were invaluable, and it opened up so many opportunities for me!”

Natasha (Mail on Sunday) said: “I’m very grateful to have been shortlisted for an NCTJ award!

“Training part-time with was challenging but so rewarding. It enabled me to hone my skills as a journalist with great tutors who motivated us through many dark Wednesday evenings in lockdown!”

Matilda (Tes) said: “I am so excited to have been nominated for the data journalism category, especially for a story I am so passionate about.

“Well done to all nominated and thank you NA for your help and guidance! I’m so excited for the ceremony and to meet all the others who have been shortlisted.”

Friends of , News UK and Jem Collins from Journo Resources, are also up for the equality, diversity and inclusion gong, sponsored by the Financial Times.

editorial development manager Lucy Dyer said: “It’s so great to see our graduates recognised for their tireless efforts in the classroom and newsroom over the last year.

“I’m often asked in course interviews about the job prospects for our graduates and I think this shortlist underpins the platform gives you.

“I know I speak for our entire training team when I say how proud we all are of our trainees and alumni, and equally for our grads in thanking our delivery teams for the monumental effort they put in day in, day out. Well done everyone! ”

Manchester head of journalism Alice Gregory said: “Seeing so many of our graduates on this list of nominations makes us feel very proud. It’s a fantastic achievement at any time but seeing what they have accomplished during a pandemic makes it all the more impressive.

“The way they have handled the various challenges thrown at them and the standard of work they have produced is incredible. All have shown themselves to be excellent journalists – demonstrating resilience and a good work ethic – and each and every one of the nominees should feel as proud of themselves as we do!”

deputy managing editor Graham Dudman said: “The quality of all our journalism courses is second-to-none as the number of nominations from -trained journalists shows.”

In 2020 the team was over the moon to win the innovation of the year award which celebrates the new and exciting ways NCTJ centres are teaching and inspiring their journalists.

Graphic announcing  as the Winner of NCTJ Innovation of the Year award 2020 at the #NCTJawards.

Sky News correspondent Ashna Hurynag, who presented the award, said: “A huge congratulations to you! The judges said they felt there was an impressive, innovative and pioneering re-working of the course and timetable, with careful thought given to student welfare.

“The judges said it felt like a whole team effort, with a comprehensive list of webinars, Q&As and talks, with social media tips which made great use of an impressive list of alumni. Congratulations to you.”

A YouTube screen grab of a Sky News live stream of the NCTJ Awards of Excellence. Correspondent Ashna Hurynag is talking and the ticker along the bottom says: BREAKING NEWS NEWS ASSOCIATES WINS NCTJ INNOVATION OF THE YEAR AWARD Sky News correspondent Ashna Hurynag announcing the award at the virtual ceremony last year – see more here.

is officially the UK’s number NCTJ journalism school, as has been for six straight years.

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The benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start

Alice Trout



In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life. Between work, family, and other responsibilities, we often forget to take care of ourselves. This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgment. In this article, we will explore the benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start.

Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety

Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. By focusing on the present moment, you can calm your mind and reduce racing thoughts.

  1. Improves mental clarity

Practicing mindfulness can improve mental clarity and focus. It can help to clear your mind of distractions and increase productivity.

  1. Enhances self-awareness

Mindfulness can increase self-awareness and help you to understand your thoughts and emotions better. By being present in the moment, you can learn to recognize your patterns of thinking and behavior.

  1. Improves relationships

Mindfulness can help to improve relationships by increasing empathy and compassion. By being present with others, you can develop a deeper understanding of their needs and feelings.

How to Start Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Set aside time

Set aside a specific time every day to practice mindfulness. It can be as little as 5-10 minutes per day to start.

  1. Find a quiet space

Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. It could be a quiet corner of your home or a quiet park.

  1. Focus on your breath

Focus on your breath and the physical sensations of breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.

  1. Be present

Allow yourself to be present in the moment without judgment. Let your thoughts and emotions come and go without dwelling on them.

  1. Practice regularly

Make mindfulness a regular practice. It takes time to develop the habit, but the benefits are worth it.

In conclusion, practicing mindfulness can have numerous benefits for our mental and physical well-being. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that can be incorporated into our daily lives. By setting aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance our relationships. So why not give it a try? Your mind and body will thank you for it.

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How to create a perfect morning routine for a productive day

Alice Trout



Do you ever feel like your day has gotten away from you before it even starts? One way to combat this feeling is to create a perfect morning routine. Establishing a routine can help you start your day off on the right foot, and set the tone for a productive and successful day. Here are some tips on how to create a morning routine that works for you.

Determine Your Priorities

Before you start creating a morning routine, it’s important to determine what your priorities are. What are the things that you want to accomplish in the morning? Do you want to exercise, meditate, or have a healthy breakfast? Once you have a list of your priorities, you can start creating a routine that includes them.

Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Try to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help establish a consistent routine and make it easier to stick to.

Take Time for Yourself

Many people feel rushed and stressed in the morning, but taking some time for yourself can help alleviate this feeling. Whether it’s meditating, reading a book, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee, taking time for yourself can help you start your day feeling calm and centered.


Exercise is a great way to start your day, as it can help increase your energy levels and improve your mood. Whether it’s a quick jog, yoga practice, or weightlifting session, try to include some form of exercise in your morning routine.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Eating a healthy breakfast can help fuel your body and provide the energy you need to start your day. Try to include protein, whole grains, and fruit or vegetables in your breakfast.

Plan Your Day

Taking a few minutes to plan your day can help you stay focused and productive. Make a to-do list or set priorities for the day, and review your calendar to make sure you’re prepared for any meetings or appointments.

Stick to Your Routine

Once you’ve created a morning routine that works for you, try to stick to it as much as possible. Consistency is key, and sticking to your routine can help establish healthy habits and improve your overall productivity.

In conclusion, creating a perfect morning routine can help set the tone for a productive and successful day. By determining your priorities, waking up at the same time every day, taking time for yourself, exercising, eating a healthy breakfast, planning your day, and sticking to your routine, you can create a morning routine that works for you. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle.

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10 simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in your daily life

Alice Trout



Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, but it can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are several simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in our daily lives. In this article, we will explore 10 such methods that you can easily incorporate into your routine.

Exercise regularly

Physical activity is an excellent way to relieve stress. It helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters. You don’t have to engage in high-intensity workouts to reap the benefits. Even a brisk walk or light yoga can help reduce stress levels.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can cause irritability, mood swings, and increase stress levels. Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night to feel well-rested and refreshed.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing can help to calm your mind and body. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes to feel relaxed.

Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature can have a calming effect on your mind and body. Take a walk in the park or go for a hike in the woods to feel rejuvenated.

Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Set aside a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to music

Music has a soothing effect on our minds. Listening to calming music can help to reduce stress levels. Create a playlist of your favorite relaxing tunes and listen to it when you feel stressed.

Practice yoga or tai chi

Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices that combine physical postures and breathing techniques. They can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

Connect with loved ones

Talking to friends and family members can help to reduce stress levels. It can provide a sense of comfort and support during challenging times.

Practice gratitude

Focusing on the positive aspects of life can help to reduce stress levels. Make a habit of practicing gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for every day.

Take breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day can help to reduce stress levels. Go for a short walk, practice deep breathing or simply take a few moments to close your eyes and relax.

In conclusion, stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over. By incorporating these simple yet effective methods into your daily routine, you can reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself should always be a top priority.

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