A 22-year-old Birmingham man, who graduated with honours after completing his award-winning journalism studies at the University of Worcester, has won the top accolade at the Midlands Media Students Awards.
Conor Rees, now seeking a fulltime job in journalism, won two of the 12 categories – the Online innovation and Blogger/Vlogger awards – before being named as Media Student of the Year at the awards evening, held at the Austin Court conference centre in Birmingham.
Sky News managing editor Peter Lowe, who headed the judging panel, said: “Picking a winner from a set of brilliant winners was excruciatingly difficult. But the overall title goes to Conor Rees for his 99 Percent Lifestyle magazine, which is an extraordinary body of work. It’s beautifully designed and produced, extremely glossy and, crucially, genuinely interesting. Conor is in danger of being signed by Conde Nast” (a premier media company which attracts 123 million consumers to its industry-leading print, digital and video brands).
In his initial year at Worcester University, Conor, who lives in Northfield, won the First Year Student of the Year award for journalism and in 2015 – his final year – he won the university’s “best magazine” award.
A Special Commendation was awarded to runner-up Chris Gray, from the University of Lincoln, who won the category for video journalist with an entry entitled “Who Cares?”
Mr Lowe said: “This was a superbly executed video production about a girl growing up as a carer for her sister. The journalistic coup was persuading the family to take part and to film themselves. The end result was compellingly human, and at the same time heart-warming and heart-breaking.”
Staffordshire University was headline sponsor of the awards, which were also supported by Birmingham City University, Barclays, Bournville College, JDB Events, Real People and Purple Frog Property, which provides student accommodation in locations including Birmingham and Nottingham. The awards, which were organised by Cloud 9 Events Management on behalf of Birmingham Press Club, attracted a record entry of 257.
The awards, originally launched last year with the aim of recognising future talent in broadcasting, journalism and photography, attracted entries from university and college students in Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Lincoln, Nottingham, Staffordshire, Wolverhampton and Worcester.
Press Club chairman Ed James said: “The media industry is going through some challenging times at the moment. However, quality journalism will always be in demand and if the undoubted talent that we have seen in the awards is anything to go by, then there will not be a shortage of that in the future.”
Category winners were: Active Journalism: Antoine Omisore, Staffordshire University - Sex Addiction
Blogger/Vlogger: Conor Rees, University of Worcester - 99 Percent Lifestyle Online and Physical Magazine
Data Journalism: Maria Crosas Batista, Birmingham City University - Obesity in the UK –
Entertainment: Danielle Skerrett (Group Entry), University of Lincoln - Frankie Says ‘I Do’
Humour: Rebecca Heyes, Staffordshire University - Staffordshire University rugby team red-faced as kit blunder shows waist sizes
Infographics: Laura Moody, Nottingham Trent University – The World Changes at Sunset
Investigation: Robert Smith, Staffordshire University - Staffordshire Yeomanry veteran hailed “luckiest man in the desert” reveals an incredible story'
Online Innovation: Conor Rees, University of Worcester - 99 Percent Lifestyle Online and Physical Magazine
Public Affairs: Chelsea James, University of Worcester – Food Samples Feature
Scoop: Natasha Hardy, Staffordshire University - Grieving father speaks out amid investigations into the death of his 3-year-old son at Stafford Hospital
Sport: Adam Tomlinson(Group Entry), University of Lincoln - LSJ Sport
Video Journalism: Chris Gray, University of Lincoln - Who Cares?
The categories were chosen to allow media students a real platform to showcase their passion for a particular subject matter.