Cathryn Nicoll Award

Scroll down to meet the nominees for the Cathryn Nicoll Award

Set up by the News Media Association, the Award has been launched in memory of Cathryn Nicoll who held the position of news editor at the Croydon Advertiser during her career as a journalist. Cathryn was known for her passionate belief in journalistic standards and training, and the award will highlight and reward brilliant interviewing and feature writing by young journalists, with a cash prize of £500 for the winner.

The award was open to any journalist working for a weekly or daily local or regional newspaper published in the UK, who is aged between 18 and 25 as of the entry closing date. Entrants submitted a published feature or news story based on an interview that they have carried out with a well-known person or celebrity in December 2019. 

Click on the articles to read in detail. 

The Shortlist

Andra Maciuca, Saffron Walden Reporter

In her own words, Andra said:

 “I am a 24-year-old mainly working on two weekly local newspapers, particularly the Saffron Walden Reporter.

“My feature story was prompted by news that Benjamin Zephaniah would visit our town.

“I think this is the most insightful interview I have ever done and led to an inspirational feature which greatly contributed to public debates.

“Fighting discrimination, using conditions such as dyslexia as a strength where possible, history, multiculturalism, activism, education and social disparities are topics touched upon that I believe are of interest to the society and are highly discussed about.

“The fact that he was friends with Nelson Mandela only adds to the cultural value of the piece.”

The judges said:

Andra’s article is must-read interview with one of the leading voices against racism and discrimination in Britain today.

Joseph Locker, The Nottingham Post & Nottinghamshire Live

“On September 4, the big beast of politics and Rushcliffe MP of 49 years, Ken Clarke, had his Conservative whip withdrawn by no other than Sherwood MP Mark Spencer, following Boris Johnson’s decision to cull 21 Conservative MPs,” writes Joseph.

“It was a huge and significant event at the time, and a period in politics that will no doubt go down in history as one of the most turbulent and shocking.

“Ken Clarke’s departure was an event in British politics that I wanted to invest my time in. I felt I had the chance to make hay while the sun shone. I hoped to bring to life Mr Clarke’s character, having been very much a political celebrity for a long and boisterous 49 years.

“It was a chance to bring this now national figure back down to a local level and talk about not only his time in Westminster, but his time for and appreciation of all things Nottinghamshire.

“Further, Mr Clarke’s decisions, successes and controversies throughout his lengthy career would make for very interesting public debate and scrutiny.

“Therefore, following the events on September 4, I arranged an interview. It took a long time to nail down, with previous attempts failed due to his ill health or commitments.

“I also had to proceed through his secretary at the time because Mr Clarke does not own a mobile phone – and the only time he did, he lost it. He also has no social media presence.

“But persistence paid off.

“When I spoke to Mr Clarke on September 8, the very first thing he asked me was just how I was taking the interview down, to which I said: “Shorthand”.

“Ah! Congratulations,” he replied. I believe this helped ease any anxieties about the interview which turned out to be a very human conversation – for around an hour – about his life.

“This sign of mutual respect also helped ease my anxiety during a conversation with a very well-esteemed and, sometimes, intimidating man.

“I wanted to convey his intricacies in the piece. I strived to explain a very complicated few months in politics in a digestible, entertaining and human way. I aimed to hark back to a time now long gone while looking ahead to a new era in politics.

“Political reporting can be difficult, particularly in trying to make it attractive, and by speaking to Mr Clarke from a local and regional perspective I hoped to produce a feature that was also original.

“I believe I achieved that and bagged the interview so many others had also been trying to get.

“I utilised my penchant for politics and eagerness to discover the people behind the headlines, to produce a feature that our audience invested a significant amount of time reading and debating, as shown by hundreds of comments on the homepage and Facebook.

“But ultimately, it is a feature that I am and will remain proud of.”

 The judges said: 

Joseph’s article provides genuine new insight into the extraordinary circumstances surrounding Ken Clarke’s exit from the Conservative Party at the height of the Brexit debate.

Mark Donnelly, Sunderland Echo

Mark’s editor said:

“Mark Donnelly is a digital sport specialist for JPIMedia North East, working predominantly on the daily brand, the Sunderland Echo. He also deputises for the Football Clubs Editor. In the short time he has been with the company he has not only proven himself as a skilled digital journalist, he has also risen to the challenge of leading on sport delivery in conference and the newsroom in his manager’s absence.”

Mark’s long-read interview with Sunderland AFC loan manager and club ambassador Kevin Ball provided a previously unseen insight into the role of Kevin Ball and his work with the club – from supporting support loan players’ transitions to brokering an all-important deal.

The judges said: 

The article provides a detailed insight into the issues and challenges that loan players can face and the measures taken by clubs to manage them. An interesting and thoughtful piece of sports journalism.