Young Journalist of the year award: Spotlight on this year’s shortlisted talent

Posted on: September 2, 2021 by admin


The Regional Press Awards’ winners will be announced in a virtual ceremony on Thursday  September 16. Until then we will be showcasing some of the exceptionally talented editorial staff shortlisted in some of the categories for their work in 2020.

Young Journalist of the Year 

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Open to journalists aged 26 or under, entries included work from any journalistic discipline. Judges were looking for the individual who has made a significant impact over the year.


Andra Maciuca, Saffron Walden and Dunmow Broadcast

Andra had just started her first full-time job as a reporter, when her editor and fellow reporter left. She was forced to rapidly up-skill, making editorial decisions while managing print, online, social media and three newly recruited interns.

What the judges said:

“Journalism is not only about getting the stories – as this entrant has done – but also about stepping up to the mark when required. This reporter has done that, producing good material under the most difficult of circumstances, and while shouldering a weight of responsibility far above that which one could reasonably expect of her at the earliest stage of her career.”

Conor Matchett, The Scotsman/Edinburgh Evening News

Conor moved from the Edinburgh Evening News’ general news team to The Scotsman’s political team during the pandemic. Amid the chaos of Covid-19, this was particularly challenging for him as he wrangled with being unable to meet contacts and develop relationships. Despite this, Connor has amassed an excellent body of work, with his Christmas Market story leading to national follow-ups.

What the judges said:

“Conor has broken many news stories using his investigative skills. From knee-jerk official secrecy, to exposing alleged ‘key failings and mistruths’ by the council. Connor shows a willingness to question authority and shine a light on its faults and failings.”


Jack Aitchison, Glasgow Times


Strong local journalism matters to Jack. He feels strongly about the responsibility Journalists have to hold those in power to account and give those who are silent a voice, enabling real change. Jack’s investigation piece, was a culmination of a tip-off, an FOI, and a series of interviews – which he feels helped to expose a shocking flaw within the Scottish Prison Service system. 

What the judges said:

“Jack exposed flaws within the Scottish Prison Service system highlighting how hundreds of inmates were to be released from prison over the Christmas period with little or no services in place to help with rehabilitation.  Jack’s investigation on sex workers found that people were flouting lockdown for sex hook-ups. Jack discovered dozens of online listings of individuals either offering cash rewards for “fun” or even soliciting themselves for sex.”


Jody Doherty-Cove, The Argus

Jody’s coverage of the coronavirus crisis and investigations into issues impacting the community amassed global attention after the COVID-19 “super-spreader” was found to be from his patch: Brighton. Politicians including Jeremy Corbyn used his regional story to call on the government to act fast before care homes across the country faced similar situations. Jody followed the unfolding tragedy within the homes, covering important issues that were later raised in Parliament. The fears he uncovered, that agency workers were spreading the virus between settings, were later confirmed by Office for National Statistics figures.

What the judges said:

“Jody shows a wide range of journalism – investigation, holding authority to account, and discovering that the local police force had been keeping quiet over the dismissals of officers. While the pandemic has dominated the news agenda for the past year and a half, it is not the only story, as the entrant clearly demonstrates with his submissions.”


Paige Oldfield, Manchester Evening News

Paige felt her submissions showcased what is needed of a journalist in the modern age; being able to interview with extreme sensitivity, the ability to find a strong story and persuade the interviewee to speak, and the ability to informatively cover an ongoing incident live from the scene despite the often harrowing circumstances. She was also committed to utilising social media to inform the public on matters of great local and international importance.

what the judges said:

“A superb variety of entries. Paige’s coverage of the death of seven-year-old Emily Jones who was stabbed in a local park was excellent and very moving. She broke the story and provided live updates throughout its development with dogged determination. The man whose mother died after catching Covid from him showed depth and insight and was very well and movingly written and must have touched readers’ hearts”


Sarah Burgess, Eastern Daily Press

Sarah’s first job after passing her NCTJ saw her move from Gateshead to Norfolk. She quickly learned the issues in her patch and over the course of 2020 learned the issues that mattered to local people. Over that first lockdown, it became clear to Sarah that some of the worst-affected people were ‘hidden victims’ – domestic and sexual abuse sufferers who were locked in with their abusers. Sarah highlighted the impact restrictions were having on vulnerable women and children and began covering the topic of domestic abuse from June 2020, when data revealed calls to Norfolk abuse charities were sky-rocketing.

What the judges said: 

“Sarah has produced a series of important stories about the issue of domestic violence and access to birth control in the pandemic. There is excellent work finding individual stories and these are then widened out with use of data. The access to birth control is an issue we have not seen reported elsewhere.”


The winners of the Regional Press awards will be announced on Thursday September 16 at 12 noon Click here to view the online awards.