Awards judges failed to make the grade

It was nice to see Piers Morgan offering a few considered words at Press Gazette’s Student Journalism Awards.

For
those who weren’t there, it included an interesting parable about
betting on “certainties”, which (according to Piers’ story) turn out to
lose you your shirt despite odds of 10-1 on.

For me that’s pretty much how it felt sitting through the award for Student Television Journalist of the Year.

Five
of the six students on the final shortlist were from Nottingham Trent
University’s Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism. I made that five
to one on. Good job I’m not a betting person.

With hindsight, of
course, it was obvious. When Piers prepared a few words, he knew what I
didn’t. Before the awards kicked off the judges had decided nobody on
their shortlist for television was good enough to get the award.

“They
felt there were flaws in what they called the basic story-telling
elements of the packages that they viewed,” said Press Gazette editor
Ian Reeves. “They therefore felt unable to chose an overall winner.”

So why, if none of the entries were good enough, did you identify the best of the bunch for some sort of ritual humiliation?

Those
who came paid their own way to London, took a day off work and maybe
bought a new shirt – just to feel like it was being ripped off their
back and chucked on the floor.

Sour grapes? Well I hope not.

The
point is this: ● Students from journalism courses all over the country
were encouraged to submit their best work to these awards.

● The criteria for entering remained the same as for previous years. If your criteria aren’t up to the job, then change them.

In the past, when standards have been less good there have been shorter lists of finalists. Quite right.

If nobody was good enough to win this year then why did you shortlist any of them?

Or
put it another way. You shortlisted them. Then your judges bottled out.
It was their job to decide which of these was the best (albeit of a
less than perfect bunch). They failed to do the job.

Will they be
prepared to offer some more detailed feedback on improving “basic
story-telling” elements to those they are so comfortable to see
criticised in public?

Perhaps they would like to publish a list of all the other entrants who also failed to impress?

Sour grapes?

Perhaps
those paid to deliver journalism training and collecting salaries in
the industry need to work harder at ripening a fresh vintage.

In my view, there’s not much chance if you rush to stamp on all the new grapes too soon.

PS: All five of the students from Nottingham Trent have full-time work in television news and current affairs journalism.

Richard Ventre leader, postgraduate journalism programmes Nottingham Trent University

Editor’s note: one of the main judges for this category, ITV’s
Dominic Crossley- Holland, is writing a piece about it for next week’s
magazine.

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