GSMA – Kingston Uni: we won “because we took risks”

Lara O’Reilly is former editor of Kingston University’s River newspaper + now a reporter at Marketing Week…

Winning is sometimes far sweeter when you are not expecting it at all.

Hours before the event two nights ago news was spreading around Twitter that there had been an apparent leak of the Guardian Student Media Awards results.

According to the rumours a press release was sent to current editors of the nominated student publications asking if they would like photos of the event – oh and revealing the winner and runner-up of each category.

Kingston Uni Team

Lara O'Reilly and Callum Hornigold

We didn’t know the result for sure; everyone on Twitter was respecting the embargo, but there were plenty of smug-sounding tweets from certain students who seemed to already know the result.

We practiced our gracious losing smiles on the tube to the Guardian offices, still overjoyed that we had been nominated at all.

The ceremony was small, fun and informal – more like a networking event than an awards show, with everyone chatting to students from other publications and introducing themselves to a few of the journos associated with the event.

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It’s all about online journalism. Isn’t it?

City University have recently announced a new Masters degree: An Interactive Journalism MA which offers:

  • Data Journalism | Sourcing, reporting and presenting stories through data-driven journalism
    and visualising and presenting data (databases, mapping and other interactive graphics).
  • Online Communities | Developing and managing online communities including social media – in the changing relationship of journalists with consumers.
  • Content Management | Understanding and using the content management systems that underlie online journalism.

These are all useful skills which will be supplemented by other core modules from City’s offerings, but it left me wondering whether City are ahead of the curve or behind it?

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Wanted: a fifth Wannabe Hack

Wannabe Hacks are looking for a fifth hack to join our ranks.

Fifth Hack

As we explained on Thursday The Detective will no longer be blogging about getting into the media after deferring his postgraduate course place. It means that we would like someone to help blog about the ups and downs of getting into the big bad world of journalism.

The only stipulation is that you must be trying to get into the media in some shape or form.

Other than that, we’re easy.

It may be useful, but not necessary, if you are trying to do so through a path we do not cover at the moment – e.g. an NCTJ course, newspaper/magazine traineeship, trainee reporter on a local paper etc.

It would also be a bonus if you were in the vicinity of London (we like to share the odd beverage now and again). But this is equally not a must because we would happily welcome a Northern point of view on the getting into the media.

We’re also looking to hear from women trying to get into the media as we’re a male-dominated bunch – a female perspective certainly wouldn’t go amiss.

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One small step for Hacks…

The Guardian offices Kings Place

The Guardian offices Kings Place

This blog about our journeys into journalism wouldn’t be much use if it didn’t update you about our real life adventures. You have had some patch experiences from the Chancer and some pitching and application insights from the Freelancer…

Now it is time for some news from me, the Intern.

On Monday morning I start a brand new job at the Guardian. I can’t really talk about what I will be doing yet as some of it isn’t ready for the outside world to know – however I will do my best to keep you updated as and when it is appropriate.

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The reading list: Week 8/9

It’s that time again when we let you know what journalists, journals and online articles have been the focus of our hack-ttention. There was no reading list on Hacks last week, so this week we are going for a bumper set of recommendations.

Please let us know of any other interesting blogs/sites/articles by commenting below, emailing us at or tweeting us (@wannabehacks). Here goes…

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Browne Review could see shift towards NCTJ short course

The Browne Review on university tuition fees was published this week to a mixed public reaction.

But what specifically will the recommendations mean for journalism as a degree subject and, subsequently, for the media industry in the long term? The Student takes a look at the potential consequences for young journalists as a result of the tuition fee hike.

What the Browne Review recommends?

Lord Browne

Lord Browne, in a nutshell, has recommended that the current cap on fees (which stands at £3,290) should be scrapped and a higher fee charged. In 2009 Universities UK, a higher education action group, suggested tuition fees should double to £7,000. However, Lord Browne’s review has implied that universities will be able to decide what they think their education is worth, meaning some institutions could charge more than £10,000.

Importantly, (as the BBC explains in more detail here) universities charging more than £6,000 would be charged an increasing levy on each further £1,000. Other recommendations include an increase in the wage graduates would earn before they began to pay their tuition fee back (rising to £21,000 from £15,000) and the slight increase in the number of years after which any outstanding debt would be wiped out (30 years from 25).

But what this will mean for journalism degrees?

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The reading list: Week 7

It’s that time again when we let you know what journalists, journals and online articles have been the focus of our hack-ttention.

Please let us know of any other interesting blogs/sites/articles by commenting below, emailing us at or tweeting us (@wannabehacks). Here goes…

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Putting old guard into Guardian Student Media

The Guardian Student Media Awards.

The Oscars of university media.

The pièce de résistance of student journalism.

Last week, the 2010 nominations were announced to widespread excitement ahead of the ceremony in November. But, once again, they demonstrated how they are an inherently flawed means of celebrating student media.

Student Media Awards

A large part of the problem with the Guardian Student Media Awards (GSMA) is that they are entirely predictable. It’s possible to guess, before the nominations are announced, that certain names are likely to appear – the likes of Cherwell and the Oxford Student at Oxford, York Vision and Nouse at York and often Gair Rhydd of Cardiff.

And history suggests that not only do certain universities get nominated more but actually they win the awards too – York won 7 in 2007 whilst Oxbridge cleaned up in 2009, winning 6 of 14 awards. This year threatens to be no different, with York and Oxford monopolising the nominations, particularly in the Reporter of the Year category, where two Oxford students (albeit from different publications) and two York students dominate.

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City MA is less competitive and more collaborative

Journalism postgraduate courses, especially in London, have a reputation for being intensely competitive. The few jobs within the industry plus a group of highly driven student journalists who know how tough it is to make a mark in the media often equal a group of wannabe hacks eager to trump each other.

Before starting at City University London this week, I had heard stories about students barely speaking to each other, stealing each other’s leads and battling it out for the same work experience placements. But is that a realistic assessment of dynamics on postgraduate journalism courses?


Certainly not at City (for now at least). Although the first few days seem a bit like speed dating, with frequent polite introductions, people (some are 25 years old, a few even 30 and above) are happy to remind you of their name/where you’re from, no matter how many times you forget. All in all, everyone on the course is friendly, switched-on and keen to learn.

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NCTJ is still industry standard – but it might not be for much longer

Following the post by The Student about the relevance and worth of an NCTJ course Rhys Hayward – one of the latest hacks in the production line of the News Associates NCTJ in Wimbledon – gives his thoughts on the NCTJ and its future.

In my opinion it is impossible to judge the NCTJ certificate in black and white because of the vastly variable nature of both the industry and the centres which are approved to teach the qualification. I recently qualified at News Associates in Wimbledon as a 100%er – that is someone who has passed all four main disciplines taught by the NCTJ: News Writing, Media Law, Public Affairs and Teeline Shorthand at 100 words per minute.

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