A journalism graduate has been crowned the winner of the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Prize for Local Digital Journalism, with two graduates also Highly Commended after impressing Yorkshire Evening Post journalists with their hyperlocal news sites.
Now in its fourth year, the Local Digital Journalism prize was set up by Leeds Trinity University lecturer Dr Rebecca Whittington and former Yorkshire Evening Post editor Hannah Thaxter, to increase engagement in local news and encourage students to network and learn from industry professionals at the newspaper.
Final year students taking a digital media module, which required participants to create websites for niche online audiences, were eligible to be shortlisted for the prize if they produced web content with a Leeds-area focus. Sam Charlton, Molly Paul and Matthew Ingham were among the students shortlisted for the prize by University lecturers.
23-year-old Sam, from Leeds, who recently graduated with a First-Class degree in Sports Journalism and the School of Communications prize for outstanding academic achievement, created a data management platform called Leeds Rhinos Newsroom. The platform was aimed at Leeds Rhinos fans and included news, interviews, features and opinion articles about the club.
Sam was crowned the overall winner in recognition of his platform being produced to a high quality, engagement on social media, and its relevance to local audiences.
Sam said: "I'm delighted to have won this prize for my work on Leeds Rhinos Newsroom. As a big rugby league and Leeds Rhinos fan who had previously covered the sport for work, I immediately knew that I wanted to centre my website around the club when the project was set for us. It's a subject matter that I'm passionate about so I thoroughly enjoyed working on this platform, watching the site grow and developing an audience over the months.
“I found out I had won just a few hours after learning I had achieved a First-Class degree in Sports Journalism, so it was all very exciting and a great end to my time at Leeds Trinity University. It gives me confidence in the work I can produce and is a timely boost as I leave University and head off into the world of work.”
Sports Journalism graduate Matthew Ingham and Journalism graduate Molly Paul were both highly commended as runners-up in the competition after impressing the judging panel with their local news sites.
The prize was judged based on local relevance, interesting content, engagement hooks and aesthetic. Sam will now complete a week’s remote work experience with the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Joe Cooper, a member of the judging panel and Audience Specialist at JPI Media, said: “I was so impressed by the quality of work submitted by Leeds Trinity University students. The pace of change in digital journalism is incredibly fast, but these students have shown they're up to the job. It was a really tough call to choose the winner, but Sam Charlton really stood out. His project was very high quality, had good social media engagement and he knew exactly what his audience wanted and how to speak to them."
Joe added: "As a former Leeds Trinity student, it's fantastic to see the University helping to nurture digital journalists who I know will be stars of the future.”
Leeds Trinity University’s Centre for Journalism has an established reputation for outstanding vocational training, industry-relevant studies and excellent professional work placements at organisations such as the BBC, Sky, and The Sunday Times.
Find out more about undergraduate degree programmes in Journalism at Leeds Trinity University.
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Leeds Trinity University's Corporate Communications Officer, Zoe Shackleton, is the first point of contact for local, national and international media.