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November 30, 2018updated 30 Sep 2022 7:11am

Journalist who began career without A-levels or degree nabs top prize at NCTJ awards

By James Walker

A production journalist who began his career as an apprentice without A-levels or a degree has been named trainee journalist of the year.

JP Asher picked up the prize at the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ Awards For Excellence ceremony in Essex last night.

Asher now works on for Archant on the Eastern Daily Press and other publications from the publisher’s head office in Norwich.

He began his journalism career as an apprentice on The Comet in 2015 while studying at Lambeth College.

“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,” said Asher.

“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.”

Asher, formerly a foreign volunteer for the Israel Defence Forces, received his award for getting the best results in the National Qualification in Journalism, or senior exams, sat in November last year.

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Also awarded at the event was Brighton Journalist Works graduate Gemma Joyce, who took the Student Journalist of the Year award after earning the highest marks in the Diploma in Journalism, or pre-entry, exams,

 She came top out of more than 1,000 student journalists while working full-time.

Megan Baynes was awarded the Apprentice of the Year prize. She is now a local democracy reporter for the Isle of Wight County Press.

The NCTJ said it had received a record-breaking number of entries for various award categories this year.

Awards host Sky News presenter Sarah Hewson said judges had been “thoroughly impressed with the standard and quality of the work they saw”.

The full list of winners and commendations is as follows:

Student news journalism

  • Winner – Jessica Cripps, News Associates London
  • Highly Commended – Rianna Croxford, Press Association Training
  • Commended – Laura FitzPatrick, News Associates Manchester

Trainee news journalism

  • Winner – Bronwen Weatherby, Bristol Live
  • Highly Commended – Olivia Tobin, Evening Standard
  • Commended – Isabella Cipirska, Worthing Herald

Student sports journalism

  • Winner – Matt Horsman, St Mary’s University
  • Highly Commended – Liam Grace, Bournemouth University
  • Commended – Josh Jones, News Associates London
  • Commended – Oscar Lynch, News Associates Manchester

Trainee sports journalism

  • Winner – Joe Nicholson, Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail
  • Highly Commended – Richard Dore, Sportsbeat
  • Commended – Jordan Davies, The Sun

Student features award

  • Winner – Hannah Tomes, University of Sheffield
  • Highly Commended – James Williams, University of Lincoln
  • Commended – Isabel Eidhamar, University of Kent

Trainee features award

  • Winner – Will Hayward, WalesOnline and Western Mail
  • Highly Commended – Conor Gogarty, Gloucestershire Live
  • Commended – Anna Lewis, WalesOnline

Student top scoop/exclusive

  • Winner – Charlotte Gibbons, City of Liverpool College
  • Highly Commended – Kate Wilsea, Press Association Training
  • Commended – Joe Wallen, News Associates London

Trainee top scoop/exclusive

  • Winner – Amy Gibbons, East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star
  • Highly Commended – Imogen Braddick, Saffron Walden Reporter
  • Commended – James Carr, Lowestoft Journal and Eastern Daily Press

Student multimedia story/campaign of the year

  • Winner – Dan Sansom, Bournemouth University
  • Highly Commended – Carmella Haswell, Bournemouth University
  • Commended – Lewis Lesbirel, Bournemouth University

Trainee multimedia story/campaign of the year

  • Winner – Bronwen Weatherby, Bristol Post
  • Highly Commended – Alasdair Hooper, Essex Live
  • Commended – Aaron Walawalker, Ilford Recorder

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
  • Commended – Harlow Harrier, Chloe McKendrick, Harlow College

Apprentice of the year

  • Winner – Megan Baynes, Isle of Wight County Press (Highbury College)
  • Commended – Yusaf Akbar, BBC West Midlands (City of Wolverhampton College)
  • Commended – Jessica Frank-Keyes, Eastern Daily Press (Press Association Training)
  • Commended – Lucy Starkie, Newsquest Cumbria (Darlington College)

Student journalist of the year

  • Winner – Gemma Joyce, Brighton Journalist Works
  • Commended – Nick Friend, St Mary’s University
  • Commended – Abbie Llewelyn, News Associates London
  • Commended – Vicky Munro, News Associates London
  • Commended – Abbas Panjwani, News Associates London
  • Commended – Peter Rogers, Press Association Training

Trainee journalist of the year

  • Winner – JP Asher, Eastern Daily Press
  • Commended – James Butler, Worthing Herald
  • Commended – Ned Bristow, Northwich News

Picture: NCTJ/Twitter

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