In 2019, First News launched the First News Newspaper of the Year Award, a competition that recognises the inspiring and creative young journalists of the future by giving them a platform to speak out from. This year, young people from across the nation have set their sights on becoming the voices of their generation by writing, editing and fully producing a newspaper. The competition has received an unprecedented amount of amazing entries seeing schools bring their students together during lockdown virtually to create their newspapers – an incredible achievement for all, say the publishers.
Students have collaborated, in many cases virtually; over zoom, skype and phone, to report on the issues that matter most to them during a period of huge uncertainty. First News says that they have produced highly professional, inspirational and informative newspapers – all of which are worthy of being celebrated and commended.
Nicky Cox MBE, Editor in Chief said, “We have received thousands of entries from all corners of the United Kingdom and have read them all with much interest. These future editors, investigative journalists and storytellers have once again raised the bar and kept all of the judges fully informed on the issues that matter most to them; often making us laugh, certainly think and sometimes cry. It’s been quite incredible to see children come together during lockdown and create such accomplished newspapers.”
There are five categories for these awards which have been open to all schools since September.
PRIMARY SCHOOL NEWSPAPER
The Galahad Gazette: Faldingworth Community Primary School, Lincolnshire.
Judges’ comments: A brilliant newspaper that perfectly balances school news, local community news and global issues while engaging readers with fascinating facts, amusing incidents, puzzles, reviews and more. It is the superb achievement of the Year 6’s at Faldingworth Community Primary School, who set themselves a two-week challenge to create a newspaper for the rest of the community when they returned to school in June. They printed their newspaper and delivered it to all the homes in their village.
Adrian Sanders (Galahad Gazette teacher): “The Galahad Gazette was a project for the Y6 children returning after the coronavirus lockdown. One of the classmates is an avid First News reader and kindly supplied us with back copies which were very useful to provide us with inspiration. No one else though had much experience with newspapers at all - even their parents seldom have newspapers at home. So, we found the First New Junior Journalist's Guide an invaluable source of information, teaching us about the protocols and conventions associated with newspapers. We are very proud of the Galahad Gazette. We have managed to create a newspaper in a very short amount of time a tiny group of children (just 5 in school), most of whom had very little prior knowledge of newspapers or journalism.”
SECONDARY SCHOOL NEWSPAPER
The Granham Gazette: St John’s Marlborough, Wiltshire.
Judges’ comments: Year 10 students launched The Granham Gazette to create a unity within the school population while everyone was learning remotely. Their aim was to balance a mix of serious, global stories with some local interest stories and humorous articles – which they certainly achieved. Editorial team member Jude explains: “It is our way of discussing our thoughts on important matters with our peers and giving a platform to the voices of young people.”
Jude, Granham Gazette: “The Granham Gazette was formed at a moment of crisis – without the school closure and enforced remote learning, there would probably not have been the opportunity to start a newspaper. Having done so, we are making the most of the opportunity to learn journalistic approaches and new skills in a very practical way. The newspaper has given the school community a space to address topics that have real meaning for us at this moment, such as the Covid 19 pandemic and its effects on education and the Black Lives Matter protests and how we react to them. Our production in a digital format enables us to reach the maximum number of students at the click of a button. It also allows us to track the number of readers and see their response patterns which can help to see which issues are popular. We are excited about learning new skills to communicate in a digital way.”
EDITORIAL TEAM OF THE YEAR
The Buzz Bessemer Grange Primary, London.
Judges’ comments: This editorial team have achieved miracles. The BUZZ, a full colour, 20-page newspaper, has been written, edited, designed and safely delivered by the pupils of Bessemer Grange Primary School during lockdown. It’s a fascinating read and they have definitely achieved their aim of creating a newspaper that provides a sense of community while school is closed.
Leila, Louis and Jacob, Bessemer primary: “We’re so proud of what we have done and how well we worked as a team. We’ve had to work especially hard connecting with people via phone and emails because of lockdown, but it’s been something that we’ve enjoyed throughout the whole process. We quickly had to learn new skills, but we didn’t let this hold us back. All of us are in different primary years and we have reached out for creative work across the whole school. We wanted to encourage everyone to express themselves in any way possible, regardless of age or ability to build their confidence and be a part of something special.”
HOME NEWS REPORTER
Raaghav Das, 13, Chronologie Editor.
Judges’ comments: Chronologie is a new e-newspaper that Raaghav started just as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning. It was inspired by the unprecedented situation that the world was in. Now on issue four, Chronologie is an amazing achievement, packed with high-quality journalism.
Raaghav, Chronologie: “Initially the inspiration came from the need to keep the local community informed and develop a sense of togetherness as I live on a road with several older residents and relatively few children. I spoke to individuals in seven countries, across five continents to paint a picture of how different countries were dealing with the pandemic and if globalisation had helped the crisis or was hindering the response.”
INNOVATIVE NEWS PROJECT
Buzz Tv’s Newsround Burnt Oak Primary School, Kent.
Judges’ comments: News reporting is an essential part of school life at Burnt Oak Primary School. Their Buzz newspaper is written by their journalism club, with other children from the school contributing. This year they’ve taken it a step further – Buzz has now evolved to develop its own TV channel!
Runners-Up: Troup Scoup, Troup House School, Aberdeenshire Stretford Chronicle, Stretford High School, Manchester Far End News, Alex Press, aged ten, Surrey
The First News School Newspaper Club pack provides a handy guide to starting a student-led school newspaper.