The Guardian Student Media Awards is now accepting entries. This year the categories are for Student Publication, Website, Reporter, Feature Writer, Columnist, Critic, Digital Journalist and Broadcast Journalist. Prizes are work experience at the Guardian.
The student protests that engulfed the streets of London during last year’s Guardian Student Media Awards ceremony have since dissipated. But the sense of betrayal and anger that led to them has not.
For that reason, this year’s Student Media Awards are likely to attract some of the most spiritedwriting since Andrew Rawnsley and Jonathan Freedland picked up gongs. “In the current climate of cuts to higher education and swathes of politically active students, now more than ever is a great time for student journalism,” says Camilla Turner, a student at Oxford University and last year’s reporter of the year. “It’s really important for students to express their feelings about what’s being enforced, do some great journalism and get across the sense of how students still feel.” Turner won the award for her exposés of a college expenses scandal, and reports on a student who faked his way into Oxford University. She now edits Cherwell, Oxford’s student newspaper, and her plans include applying for a work placement at News International and an internship at the Financial Times.
The annual awards open for their 33rd year today, and the landscape for young journalists has rarely looked more uncertain. Alan Rusbridger, the editor-in-chief of the Guardian and an awards judge, said in November it was a “great time to be a journalist”, albeit at a “fantastically insecure moment”.
“Journalism is there to be redefined,” Rusbridger told last year’s winners. “The whole ecosystem of information is there to be reimagined and I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t do it.”
Among this year’s awards judges is Jon Snow, the Channel 4 News anchor, who recalls his way into journalism as being “nepotism, luck and hard work“. Snow, the winner of presenter of the year in the RTS journalism awards, never completed his Liverpool University degree due to his part in an anti-apartheid student protest.
The importance of student media to an industry in flux should not be underestimated, Snow says. “Student media – the fertile seedbed for all our tomorrows – that’s why the scrutiny that the Guardian Student Media Awards apply to what you do matters. They are about detecting the tall trees of the future. So much talent, so little time to grow!”
Rob Setchell, 22, won broadcast journalist of the year last year. He now works for two local papers in Cambridgeshire and says that the key to success is “having an influence” on Twitter and blogs, as well as the traditional student media route.
“With changes in the industry, student journalism is becoming even more challenging, as if it wasn’t hard enough already,” he says. “But it would be stupid for any young journalist not to use Twitter nowadays – like shorthand was previously.”
The Times’s columnist of the year, Caitlin Moran, joins Snow, the NME editor Krissi Murison and the Guardian’s Paul Lewis on this year’s judging panel.
For details of how to enter this year’s awards and full terms and conditions see guardian.co.uk/sma2011
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