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Student media award renamed in memory of Mediargh founder who died of cancer

A student media award has been renamed in memory of the founder of popular media careers website Mediargh, who passed away this week.

Billy Dowling-Reid died aged 31 at about 3am on Saturday in hospital in Edinburgh, where he lived, after a long battle with terminal leukaemia.

He was best known for running Mediargh, the website he founded in 2013 to offer advice, resources and support to people interested in a career in the media.

The website, which deliberately did not list unpaid internships, was popular with students, graduates and employers and amassed over 88,000 followers on Twitter.

Dowling-Reid previously worked at Channel 4, Endemol, and as an online content producer for the Scottish Government.

The news of his death was announced on Saturday by Jem Collins, who became friends with Dowling-Reid when he helped her with her own website aimed at young people breaking into journalism, Journo Resources.

Collins today told Press Gazette: “Billy was one of the kindest and most generous people working in the media, and ran so much more than a just a job site.

“Mediargh was a deeply valued resources for thousands of young people, making a principled stand on things like pay, transparency and making sure to give accurate and honest advice. It inspired and helped so many people.

“To have run it was incredible enough, to have done it while battling leukaemia was honestly something else.”

It was widely believed that Dowling-Reid had passed away a week earlier after a message appeared on Mediargh on 4 May saying: “Mediargh is no longer being updated due to the long-term illness and death of its founder.

“Mediargh will be under new management and continue in some form at a later date.”

However Collins has confirmed that Dowling-Reid had simply tried to post an update explaining he was terminally ill and did not have long to live, but had what she described as a “morphine-induced slip-up”.

The Student Publication Association, which works to support the next generation of journalists, has now announced it is renaming its annual Outstanding Commitment award in honour of Dowling-Reid.

A statement said: “We at the SPA had only just recognised Billy’s fantastic work in the media jobs industry by awarding him Lifetime Membership of the SPA National Conference in April.

“We, as an executive committee, truly believe Billy has helped change the way jobs and internships are judged by the industry, all while battling cancer and being outside of the London bubble.

“For that reason, the Outstanding Commitment award, which is seen by the Exec as the way to recognise those members of the SPA who have battled against very low odds and achieved something remarkable, will be renamed the Billy Dowling-Reid award in memory of Billy and in recognition of his work with Mediargh.”

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