In a market place flooded with eager, well-trained and generally talented young journalists, winning an award could be the crucial factor in ensuring your CV survives beyond the other hundreds of applications cluttering a sports editor’s desk.
All these competitions are aimed specifically at young journalists and writers, and offer an invaluable opportunity to get your foot in the door at some of the biggest media companies in the land. Plus it’s always nice to win something.
Amnesty International Student Media Award
This accolade recognises outstanding student journalism on the specific issue of human rights, although this topic can take on a variety of interpretations. Run in conjunction with the NUS and The Mirror, the winner will bag themselves two weeks of work experience with the newspaper. For more details, click here
The chief course-accrediting body for broadcast journalism also hosts its own awards for excellence in multimedia journalism. For details of how to enter and previous winners, click here.
A joint operation between Media Trust and The Sun, the glitzy Column Idol competition prints the winning entry on the popular pages of the nation’s biggest tabloid. Entertainment appears to be crucial; 2011’s winner, Tom Hale, explored the wonders of tea. Usually opens for entries in April, so check The Sun and Media Trust’s websites regularly for further details.
David Welch Student Sportswriter of the Year
Quite simply ‘the one’ for aspiring sports journalists. Launched at the end of 2011 to commemorate the pioneering former Daily Telegraph sports editor David Welch, the award has the considerable backing of both The Telegraph and the Sports Journalists’ Association. Entrants must be in full-time education and submit three pieces of writing, each of no more than 800 words, on the subject of sport. The lucky winner gets the enviable honour of attending the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards as well as a week’s work experience with The Telegraph. For more details, click here.
Guardian Student Media Awards
The well-established don of student media awards, winning one of these will certainly get you noticed. While there is no specific category for sport, categories such as news reporter, feature writer and columnist certainly ensure most styles are catered for. The winners can expect two weeks of work experience at The Guardian. Update: This was cancelled in 2016 and there is no suggestion that it will be re-instated in 2017.
Hugh Cudlipp Award
This prestigious prize, awarded by the Hugh Cudlipp Trust in honour of the former Daily Mirror editor, recognises an outstanding article or series of articles that focus on an area of public interest. Be warned though that the standard is exceedingly high. Latest details here
London Library Student Prize
Another fiercely competitive award, this literary gong boasts significant support from both The Times and FreshMinds. Open to all final-year undergraduates, entrants must submit an 800-word piece on a selected topic, with the winner having their piece published in The Times’ comment pages as well as netting themselves a cool £5000. For details on 2012’s competition – which is now closed for entries – click here.
Malvern Young Writer of the Year
Open to the best and brightest teenage writers, you can submit either a short story / piece of creative prose, 40 lines of poetry or a scene / extract from a play. Aimed at encouraging young creative minds, there are cash prizes for the winners and runners-up in every category. For details of 2012’s competition, which closed for entries in January, click here.
NCTJ Awards for Excellence
This nationally recognised and well-established body for journalism training now hosts a very competitive series of awards for students on any of their accredited courses, including a specific award for excellence in sports journalism. They usually open for entries around August and, given the NCTJ’s stellar reputation, are well worth entering. For more details, click here.
NUJ Journalist of the Year
Very prestigious award that acknowledges the finest reporter from all the country’s many student media outlets, with many previous winners and runners-up bagging themselves a place on national newspapers’ graduate schemes. Details of the 2012 awards can be found here.
No particular awards to be found here – just a regular update of all the many UK-based writing competitions that may take your fancy and perhaps offer a more realistic chance of winning beyond the other competitive behemoths outlined on this page. Click here to see the huge variety of other awards on offer.
Student Radio Awards
These hugely popular awards, which launched the careers of Scott Mills, Simon Mayo and Alex Zane to name but a few, are the pinnacle of student broadcasting and also recognise excellent interviewing and broadcast journalism. Given out every November, you can find out more details here.
Wyn Harness Prize
The Independent created these awards in the honour of Wyngate Harness, a former assistant editor of the paper who died aged just 47. The awards recognise well-researched and quality articles written by young people, something Wyn Harness believed passionately in, with the winner getting their piece published in The Independent as well as a two-week placement with the paper and a £1000 cash bursary. The competition usually opens in November, so check here for further details. To read the winning entry for 2012, by Joshua Carroll, click here.