How to win an award at #SPANC17

How to win an award at #SPANC17

How to win an award at #SPANC17

Don’t try to tell me you don’t want to be like the cool people at that photo. Everyone wants to win an award at #SPANC17 – after all, it is the biggest and best annual student journalism awards.

The awards are open for entries from now until March 20, but hold up for just two seconds. We aren’t fans of elitist award ceremonies where the same people win all the time. Often it’s just because they know how to write a great application to show our their work, so we’d like to share that knowledge with you all. Let’s do this.

General Guidelines

Okay, so before we get into the specifics of how to tackle each category in particular, here’s a few general pointers on what our shortlisters and judges are looking for.

  • Read the guidelines: Yeah, yeah, everyone says it. But this is the best place to see what we’re looking for. We try to keep it broad as we know there’s always going to be some great work which won’t fit in if we make it too prescriptive, but you can see what extra stuff you need to submit alongside your work, and get a general feel of what makes a winner.
  • Make sure your membership is up to date: If your paper isn’t signed up we have to disqualify you which is sad. But membership is free (just like all the other good things in life), so double-check. And sign up. It will make me happy.
  • Give yourself enough time and enter early: Look, I’ll be honest with you. Fraser and I have to man this awards inbox and last year it exploded at 11.59pm which isn’t good for my wellbeing. In all seriousness though, if you plan ahead you’ll do a much better job of your supporting statement than if you’re in a dead heat rush. We also go through every single application before processing it to check you haven’t missed anything important. We want you to do well, so we will tell you if you missed out your supporting statement or if we think you’d do better in another category. We can’t do that if you hand it in at 11.59pm.
  • Focus on issues that matter to your audience: I’ll be slightly blunt – you need to talk about issues that matter to your audience that you can give fresh insight or reporting on. As a general rule (though I’m happy to be proved wrong) you probably can’t give us much insight on how to fix Syria. But you probably could say something fresh about the rent strikes at your univeristy. Sure, Donald Trump is the issue of the moment – but you’d have to make him relevent to your audience in a thoughtful way.
  • Tell us what we don’t know about your piece: This is why we let you have a supporting statement after all. Your piece is probably really great already, but tell us about all the work you did behind the scenes. What sparked the story? What research did you? Did you hit any roadblocks? TELL US. I WANT TO MAKE YOU ALL WINNERS.
  • Get feedback: We’ll try and give you feedback obvs, but try and get some beforehand if you can. A second pair of eyes can help really tidy things up and spot any mistakes you didn’t when you’re bleary eyed at 2am drinking gin. That could just be me though.
  • Keep it clean: I don’t mean sexually. You can send me stories about vaginas if you like. I mean your design. Judges and shortlisters will be wading through thousands of entries and it will help my sanity if you make sure everything is logically formatted and easy to read. Please and thank you.
  • Keep in mind why you’re different: You are. You have written something GREAT. Make sure why we know why your piece is the best and let this run throughout your application.

Last Year’s Winners

Okay, it’s easy enough for me to say stuff generally, but you want to see winners right?! Okay, here goes. We’ve tried to make everything as complete as possible, but it’s been a year, we can’t *quite* find everything.

Best Comment

Both winner and runner-up have been included in this list, as they show two very different types of comment piece – but they both work. They do have similarities though, they are both about something which actually affects students and are written in a way to engage.

Winner: Mike Wrench, The Boar (Piece)
Runner Up: Costas Mourselas, York Vision (PieceSupporting Statement)

Best Entertainment

Again, these are two very different entries – however they are both relevent to students and told in a skilled and engaging way.

Winner: Dan Troman, The Student (Piece)
Runner Up: Reece Goodall, Rosie Eagers, Eleanor Dawson, Halimah Manan, Daljinder Johal, Lakshmi Ajay, The Boar (Piece)

Best Feature

This also covers a very broad church of content. It is worth noting despite everything we said earlier about trying to cover national issues, Zac Derler and Guisy Urbano are on this list for being able to give something personal and new to national stories.

Winner: Guisy Urbano, Exepose (Piece and Supporting Statement)
Runner-Up: Fiona Potigny and Eammon Crowe, Exepose (Piece, Supporting Statement)
Special Mention: Zac Derler, The Founder (Piece, Supporting Statement)
Special Mention: Emma Yeomans, LondonStudent (Piece and Supporting Statement)

Best Interview

Also, a shout out here to Carwyn William’s great acceptance speech. ICYMI: Yes, he did drunkenly tell everyone to get out there and go vote.

Winner: Carywn Williams, Gair Rhydd (Piece, Supporting Statement)
Runner-Up: Flora Carr, Exepose (Piece and Supporting Statement)
Special Mention: Jesse Samasuwo, The Boar (Piece)

Best News Story

Winner:  Nathan Stillwell, Glasgow Guardian (Piece)
Runner-Up: Dan Falvey and Peter Sheehan (Piece and Supporting Statement)

Best Reporter

Winner: Emma Yeomans, LondonStudent (Piece and Supporting Statement)
Runner-Up: Cassie Gilpin, The QH (Piece and Supporting Statement)

Best Use of Digital Media

Winner: Exepose, Exeter (Entry)
Runner-Up: Epigram, Bristol (Entry)

Best Sports Coverage

It’s worth noting here that you don’t have to be a publication to enter this. If you are individual who has done a lot of good sport reporting, this will also be considered – with some individual stories making it onto our shortlist.

Winner: Gair Ryhdd, Cardiff (Entry)
Runner-Up: Concrete UEA (Entry)

Best Design (Magazine)

Winner: POW Magazine, Middlesex (Entry, Supporting Statement)
Runner-Up: Orbital Magazine, Royal Holloway (Entry)

Best Design (Newspaper)

Winner: The Boar, Warwick
Runner-Up: Concrete, UEA (Entry)

Best Website

Winner: Pi Media, UCL (Entry)
Runner-Up: CUB Magazine, Queen Mary

Best Newcomer Publication

If you’re looking for a tip on how to make your application stand out – LondonStudent’s application is outstanding on all levels.

Winner: LondonStudent (Entry)
Runner-Up: Steal This Zine, Kent (Entry)

Best Specialist Publication

Winner: The Gist, Glasgow and Strathclyde (Entry)
Runner-Up: Politics Made Public, Queen Mary

Outstanding Commitment

You know this already, but you can’t enter this yourself. You can only enter someone else who you think is deserving. You’ll notice more than one person may put in an entry for a person, which is fine.

Winner: Ben Jackson, LondonStudent (Entries)
Runner-Up: Dan Green, The Badger (Entry)

Best Publication

Winner: Concrete, UEA (Entry)
Runner-Up: Epigram, Bristol (Entry)

If you have any problems, questions, issues, or just want to talk about gin, hmu at or

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