Meet journalism’s brightest rising stars of 2023

Behind Local News
Behind Local News UK
5 min readMar 4


Among this year’s winners were: (Top row from left) Charley Bergman, Ji-Min Lee, Um-E-Aymen Babar. (Bottom row from left): Albert Tait, Daniel Kane and Melissa Sigodo.

Some of the brightest rising stars in UK journalism have been honoured at the NCTJ’s annual awards.

Journalists embarking on careers in the inudstry were recognised across a wide range of categories at the awards, held at Twickenham Stadium.

Charley Bergman, who studied at Leeds Trinity University and has since begun working at ITV Calendar in Yorkshire, scooped the student of the year prize.

The overall student of the year award is presented to the individual who achieved the top marks in the Diploma in Journalism in the last academic year, and the overall trainee of the year is the individual who achieved the best result in the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ).

Charley achieved the best overall diploma results with an impressive seven As and shorthand at 100 words per minute. She received a cheque for £200 from award sponsor Yahoo UK.

Anna Wise, who trained with News Associates in London and now works at the Press Association, was highly commended, as was Blanca Schofield, also of News Associates London and now at The Times.

In the trainee of the year category, Amy Austin of the Financial Times took home the top prize, while Georgia Harland of the Henley Standard was Highly Commended and Alec Evans of SurreyLive was commended.

The winners

The trainee journalist of the year award was given to Amy Austin, news editor at FTAdviser.

Amy, who studied at PA Training, achieved the best overall results in the National Qualification in Journalism out of all the candidates sitting in the 2021–23 academic year. She achieved a distinction in all three assessments.

Daniel Kane, of TalkSport and training with PA Training, was named apprentice of the year, while Georgia Langdon of the Hexham Courant training at Darlington College, was highly commended. Lauren Pinkney of Sky News, was also highly commended.

Apprentice of the year is awarded after employers and trainers nominate their high-flyers, and this year the judges praised the extremely high standard of entries.

Daniel’s line manager said he “has impressed everyone with his professionalism, not least in his different rotations where his colleagues didn’t want him to leave.”

Olivia Snelson, from University of Salford and now at Sky News, took home the student news journalism prize.

Olivia’s portfolio included reports on how the cost of period products was too prohibitive for some women, how horse-lovers were helping the Ukraine effort, and investigating gender bias in jazz.

Sabrina Miller, of PA Training and now at the Mail on Sunday, was highly commended, while Mariam Kuepper, of the University of Sheffield and now at the Mail, was commended.

In the trainee news journalism category, Melissa Sigodo, who worked on regional news website MyLondon before moving to the Mirror last summer, was named winner. Melissa’s portfolio of work included the story of a former NHS worker denied UK residency because the Home Office saw him as a threat, an interview with a sex abuse survivor who was left naked in a police cell, and an exclusive on how police missed chances to help a student nurse who had been reported missing.

Danielle Masterson of the Sun was highly commended, while George Carden of the Brighton Argus, was commended.

Trainee top scoop went to Albert Tait of the Henley Standard who revealed a local council was continuing to buy gas from a Russian-affiliated energy company. Maya George of the Southern Daily Echo was highly commended for revealing the Hampshire police officers dismissed from the force, while Annie Owen of North WalesLive was commended for her story on a health board apologising for leaving an 89-year-old woman in direct sunlight during a heatwave.

In the trainee sports journalism category, Ji-Min Lee, of Wokingham Today, was named winner. Ji-Min’s portfolio included a TikTok episode of the Escape the Drop series, the story of the Reading fan with every kit, and an interview with a Reading-born county cricketer about mental health.

Matthew Kayanja of the Times was highly commended.

In the student sports journalism category, Um-E-Aymen Babar took home the top prize. The former News Associates London student’s portfolio included an investigation into the impact cricket’s racism scandal had on women involved in the game, an interview with Rachel Yankey on diversity in women’s football and a BBC report on England playing in Pakistan.

Kit Shepard, also of News Associates London, was highly commended, while Andrew McLean, who studied at the University of Sheffield, was commended.

In the trainee features category, Georgina Quach, now of the Financial Times, won with a portfolio which included the demise of laundrettes during to Covid and energy prices, and a feature on Hackney’s Pho Mile.

Yasmin Choudhury, of the Times, was highly commended, while Ayokunle Oluwalana, of MyLondon, was commended.

In the student features category, Jack Walton of News Associates Manchester won for his work with the Liverpool Post and Manchester Mill newsletters. In Liverpool, he reflected on four murders in a week in the city while in Manchester, he reported on a clash of cultures about fox hunting.

Emma Ogoa, of the University of Kent, was highly commended and Matt Lee, of Nottingham Trent, was commended.

In total, there were 447 entries across 17 categories, in addition to the 1,426 students and trainees eligible for the student and trainee of the year awards.

The ceremony, was hosted by Sky Sports News presenter Jo Wilson.

Addressing the shortlisted entrants, Jo reflected on a year of journalism triumphs and said: “I’m struck by how the importance of quality journalism and trusted journalists has once more been thrust into the spotlight.

“Over the past year, we saw the unbelievable courage and bravery of reporters in Ukraine, risking their lives to tell the stories the world needs to know.

“Journalists also had to sensitively handle the news of the first death of a British monarch in 70 years, report the devastating effect of the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey and we’ve heard from reporters about the hard-hitting impact of the cost-of-living crisis as inflation surged.

“Journalism students and trainees have been continuing to show adaptability, communication and teamwork as they adjusted to learning and working in a post-pandemic world.”

A list of all winners, plus those highly commended and commended for each award, and their shortlisted work, is available here.