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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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Mastering the Art of Public Speaking: Overcoming Fear and Becoming a Confident Speaker

Julio Ferguson



Public speaking is a valuable skill that can open doors to personal and professional success. However, for many, the thought of speaking in front of an audience can be anxiety-inducing. The good news is that with practice and the right techniques, anyone can become a confident and effective public speaker. In this guide, we will explore how to overcome the fear of public speaking and develop the skills needed to master this art.

Understanding the Fear of Public Speaking

Public speaking anxiety, often called glossophobia, is a common fear. It can manifest as nervousness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, or even full-blown panic attacks. Understanding the root causes of this fear is the first step toward overcoming it:

1. Fear of Judgment: Many people worry about how they will be perceived by their audience, fearing judgment or criticism.

2. Lack of Confidence: A lack of confidence in one’s speaking abilities can contribute to anxiety.

3. Perfectionism: Setting unrealistically high standards for oneself can lead to performance anxiety.

4. Past Negative Experiences: A negative past speaking experience can create a fear of repeating that failure.

5. Uncertainty: Not knowing the audience or feeling unprepared can intensify anxiety.

Developing Confidence in Public Speaking

1. Prepare Thoroughly

The more you know your topic, the more confident you’ll feel. Research your subject thoroughly, organize your thoughts, and create a well-structured outline or presentation.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice your speech multiple times. Rehearse in front of a mirror, record yourself, or present to a trusted friend or family member for feedback.

3. Visualize Success

Mental rehearsal can be a powerful tool. Visualize yourself confidently delivering your speech, receiving positive feedback, and feeling a sense of accomplishment.

4. Control Your Breathing

Deep, slow breaths can calm your nerves. Practice deep breathing exercises before and during your speech to help manage anxiety.

5. Start Small

Build your confidence gradually by speaking in front of smaller, more supportive groups before tackling larger audiences.

6. Focus on Your Message, Not Yourself

Shift your focus from self-doubt to your message and the value you are providing to your audience. Concentrate on how your message can benefit them.

7. Engage with Your Audience

Interact with your audience by making eye contact, asking questions, and encouraging participation. This creates a more engaging and less intimidating atmosphere.

8. Use Visual Aids Wisely

Visual aids, such as slides or props, can enhance your presentation. However, use them sparingly and ensure they complement your message rather than distract from it.

9. Embrace Imperfections

Accept that nobody is perfect, and even experienced speakers make mistakes. Embrace any slip-ups with humor or grace, and keep going.

10. Seek Professional Training

Consider enrolling in a public speaking course or working with a speaking coach to improve your skills and confidence.

Managing Nervousness

Even with preparation and practice, nervousness before speaking is natural. Here are some strategies to manage it:

1. Arrive Early: Arriving early allows you to familiarize yourself with the venue and test any equipment.

2. Use Relaxation Techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation can help calm your nerves.

3. Stay Hydrated: Drink water to prevent a dry mouth, which is a common physical manifestation of anxiety.

4. Avoid Caffeine: Limit caffeine intake on the day of your speech, as it can exacerbate nervousness.

5. Focus on Your Message: Keep your attention on the content and value of your speech, rather than your anxiety.

6. Use Positive Self-Talk: Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations to boost your confidence.

Continued Improvement

Becoming a confident public speaker is an ongoing process. Here are some tips for continued improvement:

1. Record Your Speeches: Recording your speeches allows you to review your performance and identify areas for improvement.

2. Seek Feedback: Encourage constructive feedback from peers or mentors to refine your speaking skills.

3. Set Speaking Goals: Continuously challenge yourself by setting goals for speaking engagements or skill development.

4. Join a Toastmasters Club: Toastmasters International is a renowned organization that helps individuals improve their public speaking skills through practice and feedback.

In Conclusion

Public speaking is a skill that can be mastered with time and effort. By understanding the root causes of your fear, preparing thoroughly, practicing regularly, and implementing confidence-boosting techniques, you can become a confident and effective public speaker. Remember that it’s normal to feel nervous, but with the right strategies and mindset, you can turn that nervous energy into a powerful tool for engaging and inspiring your audience.

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The Power of Affirmations: Using Positive Affirmations to Boost Self-Esteem

Julio Ferguson




Self-esteem plays a vital role in our overall well-being and success in life. It influences how we perceive ourselves, how we handle challenges, and the quality of our relationships. Low self-esteem can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and missed opportunities, while high self-esteem can empower us to pursue our dreams with confidence. One effective tool for improving self-esteem is the use of positive affirmations. In this article, we will explore the power of affirmations and how they can be employed to boost self-esteem.

Understanding Self-Esteem

Before delving into the world of affirmations, it’s essential to understand what self-esteem is. Self-esteem is the subjective evaluation of one’s worth, which can either be positive (high self-esteem) or negative (low self-esteem). High self-esteem is associated with self-confidence, resilience, and a positive outlook on life. On the other hand, low self-esteem can lead to self-criticism, fear of failure, and a lack of self-belief.

What Are Affirmations?

Affirmations are positive statements that are consciously repeated to instill specific beliefs or thoughts into the mind. They are designed to challenge and overcome negative self-talk and replace it with more constructive, empowering beliefs. Affirmations can be used for various purposes, but in the context of self-esteem, they are tailored to boost self-worth and confidence.

The Science Behind Affirmations

The effectiveness of affirmations is rooted in psychological principles. When we repeat positive affirmations, we engage in a process known as self-affirmation theory. This theory suggests that individuals are motivated to protect their self-concept and self-integrity. Affirmations allow us to reinforce positive aspects of our identity, making it easier to dismiss negative thoughts and self-doubt.

Research also shows that affirmations can have a significant impact on our brain. Repeating affirmations can lead to increased activity in areas of the brain associated with self-processing and self-worth. This means that affirmations can literally change the way we think about ourselves.

How to Create Effective Affirmations

Not all affirmations are equally effective. To harness the power of affirmations for boosting self-esteem, consider the following tips when creating your own:

  1. Be Positive and Present: Affirmations should be stated in the present tense and be positive. For example, say, “I am confident and capable,” rather than, “I will be confident and capable.”
  2. Make Them Specific: Address the specific areas of self-esteem that you want to improve. If you struggle with self-worth, use affirmations like, “I am worthy of love and respect.”
  3. Use the First Person: Phrase affirmations in the first person to personalize them. Say, “I am” or “I have” instead of “You are” or “You have.”
  4. Keep Them Realistic: While affirmations are meant to be positive, they should also be grounded in reality. Avoid affirmations that are too far from your current beliefs, as they may feel disingenuous.
  5. Repeat Regularly: Consistency is key. Repeating affirmations daily, preferably in the morning and evening, can reinforce the positive beliefs you’re trying to instill.

Incorporating Affirmations into Your Daily Routine

Now that you know how to create effective affirmations, it’s crucial to incorporate them into your daily routine. Here are some strategies for doing so:

  1. Morning Ritual: Start your day with a set of affirmations that boost your self-esteem. This can set a positive tone for the day ahead.
  2. Visual Aids: Write down your affirmations on sticky notes or create a vision board with images and phrases that represent your goals and positive self-beliefs.
  3. Mobile Apps: There are several mobile apps designed to help you practice affirmations daily. These apps can send reminders and track your progress.
  4. Journaling: Incorporate affirmations into your journaling practice. Reflect on your affirmations and your progress regularly.

The Transformational Impact of Affirmations

As you integrate affirmations into your daily life, you’ll likely start noticing positive changes in your self-esteem. Over time, you may experience:

  • Increased Confidence: Affirmations can bolster your self-confidence, helping you tackle challenges and take risks.
  • Reduced Self-Doubt: Negative self-talk can be replaced with affirmations, reducing self-doubt and anxiety.
  • Improved Relationships: Higher self-esteem often leads to healthier relationships, as you value and respect yourself more, which encourages others to do the same.
  • Enhanced Resilience: With a stronger sense of self-worth, you’ll become more resilient in the face of adversity.


The power of affirmations in boosting self-esteem is well-documented and accessible to anyone willing to embrace this practice. By understanding the psychology behind affirmations, crafting effective statements, and incorporating them into your daily routine, you can embark on a transformative journey towards higher self-esteem. With consistent effort and a positive mindset, you can rewrite the script of your self-concept and realize your full potential. Remember, you are worthy of love, success, and all the positive experiences life has to offer.

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Crafting Your Personal Mission Statement: Defining Your Life’s Purpose and Goals

Julio Ferguson



A personal mission statement is a powerful tool for clarifying your life’s purpose, values, and long-term goals. It serves as a guiding compass that helps you make decisions, set priorities, and stay focused on what truly matters to you. In this guide, we will explore the importance of creating a personal mission statement and provide practical steps to craft one that reflects your aspirations and values.

Why Create a Personal Mission Statement?

A personal mission statement is like a roadmap for your life. Here’s why it’s worth investing time and effort into crafting one:

1. Clarity and Focus

A mission statement helps you define your purpose and what you want to achieve in life. It provides clarity and direction, allowing you to make decisions that align with your values and goals.

2. Goal Setting

It serves as a foundation for setting meaningful, achievable goals. Your mission statement can guide you in setting both short-term and long-term objectives that are in line with your life’s purpose.

3. Motivation

A well-crafted mission statement can serve as a source of motivation and inspiration during challenging times. It reminds you of your core values and why you’re pursuing your goals.

4. Alignment with Values

It helps you live a life that is in alignment with your values. Your mission statement acts as a filter, helping you prioritize activities, relationships, and opportunities that resonate with your beliefs.

5. Resilience

In times of adversity, your personal mission statement can provide resilience and determination. It reminds you of the bigger picture and encourages perseverance.

Steps to Craft Your Personal Mission Statement

Creating a personal mission statement is a reflective process that requires introspection and thoughtful consideration. Follow these steps to craft your own:

1. Self-Reflection

Take time to reflect on your life, values, and beliefs. Consider the following questions:

  • What are my core values?
  • What activities bring me the most joy and fulfillment?
  • What do I want to achieve in my lifetime?
  • What impact do I want to have on the world or my community?
  • What legacy do I want to leave behind?

2. Define Your Purpose

Based on your reflections, write a concise statement that defines your life’s purpose. This should be a single sentence that captures the essence of what you want to achieve or contribute to the world.

3. Identify Your Values

List your core values. These are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions and actions. Examples of values include integrity, compassion, creativity, and perseverance.

4. Set Goals

Identify specific, measurable goals that align with your purpose and values. These goals should reflect both short-term and long-term aspirations. Consider goals related to your career, personal development, relationships, and contributions to society.

5. Draft Your Mission Statement

Now, combine your purpose, values, and goals into a concise mission statement. Your mission statement should be clear, inspiring, and true to who you are. Here’s a basic structure to follow:

“I am [your name], and my mission is to [your purpose], guided by my core values of [list your values]. I will achieve this by [briefly describe how you will work toward your goals]. My mission is to [desired impact or legacy].”

6. Refine and Revise

Crafting a mission statement is an iterative process. Write a draft, reflect on it, and revise as needed. Seek feedback from trusted friends or mentors who know you well to ensure your statement accurately reflects your aspirations.

7. Live Your Mission

Once you have a final mission statement, use it as a daily guide. Make choices and set priorities that align with your mission. Periodically revisit your statement to ensure it remains relevant as your life evolves.

Examples of Personal Mission Statements

Here are a few examples of personal mission statements for inspiration:

  • “I am [your name], and my mission is to inspire others through creativity and innovation, guided by my core values of integrity, collaboration, and perseverance. I will achieve this by continuously learning, sharing my knowledge, and creating meaningful art that impacts people’s lives positively. My mission is to leave a legacy of creativity that sparks inspiration in others.”
  • “I am [your name], and my mission is to promote health and well-being in my community, guided by my core values of compassion, empathy, and service. I will achieve this by pursuing a career in healthcare, volunteering at local organizations, and educating others about healthy living. My mission is to make a positive impact on the health and happiness of those around me.”
  • “I am [your name], and my mission is to foster a world where every child has access to quality education, guided by my core values of equality, education, and empowerment. I will achieve this by working in the field of education, volunteering with organizations that support children’s education, and advocating for policy changes that improve access to education. My mission is to leave a legacy of knowledge and empowerment.”

In Conclusion

Crafting a personal mission statement is a transformative process that can bring clarity, purpose, and fulfillment to your life. It serves as a roadmap for your journey, guiding your decisions and actions in alignment with your values and goals. Take the time to reflect on what truly matters to you, define your purpose, and create a mission statement that inspires you to live a meaningful and purpose-driven life.

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