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Westminster students win top journalism award

Elation today at the Reuter’s headquarters in Canary Wharf as a group of my students won the Team of the Year award in the UK Press Gazette Student Journalism Awards.

The citation, which was read by Piers Morgan, owner of the PG, before passing over to Dianne Thompson, chief exec of Camelot ,passed in a blur of anticipation. I clearly remember him saying something about professionals in the industry being able to learn from the winner and mentioning clear navigation, but the words we were waiting for came from Dianne Thompson: “Gravitas, the University of Westminster.”

Will Brierley, the editor who is now working for BBC online, stepped up with three of the team to receive the award.

It was, I believe, a good decision. Of some 30 student team projects I have supervised in the past ten years, Gravitas stands out. It emerged as a fully-formed magazine which could have gone onto the shelves of the news agents. Many student publications are superficially attractive but lack the same confidence, content and quality of writing.

Gravitas is different: a serious yet entertaining publication that relies on text rather than display, but the display is entirely appropriate and appealing The content is similar to some of that to be found in publications like the Spectator or New Statesman but apolitical. The pages are brightened by photo-essays in both colour and black and white.

Thanks must also go to Francis Wheen who wrote for Gravitas (commissioning is one of the skills we teach) and provided the big name cover line.

It was a pity that Chris Horrie, leader of the Post Graduate Diploma in Periodical Journalism course at Westminster, had to miss the awards. (I have been standing in for him recently while he works on another project). Without his belief and confidence that the students could achieve such a high standard Gravitas, would never have been published.

The full list of winners is on the Press Gazette site and there are more details on the awards site.

The whole event was a celebration of the the quality of young journalists entering a business which Geert Linebank, editor-in-chief of Reuters, said was changing rapidly and in which he believed some big names would fail while new names emerged.

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