Oh, what a night. Wine was spilled, football chants were bellowed, and raucous cheering was a constant.
But above everything, great journalism and journalists, both upcoming and established, were celebrated.
That was what the BAMMJ awards 2019, held on 8th March in Bournemouth University, ended up being about. A memorable night for not just the fun that was had, but also because of the great work on display.
Student pieces about such hard-hitting topics as mass shootings and train drivers’ mental health were interspersed with honest insight from alumni into what makes the journalism industry work.
Such varied honours as a Donald Trump book, a goodie bag, and packs of beer were bestowed upon deserving students, current and former.
The honours weren’t just reserved for students – the hard-working lecturers and staff got their dues too, whether it was through awards in their own right or simply through sheer affection.
It was a night when the collective bonds connecting the journalism school strengthened into what feels like lifetime ones.
Fair to say, then, that the audience of student journalists walked away much richer for the experience. And also, obviously, full to the brim on free alcohol.
Theatrical and exciting
The BAMMJ awards are a yearly event, and the 2019 version saw some extravagant planning. A balloon arch greeted attendees, and the lighting, decor, and sound effects were suitably grand.
These awards are organised to honour the students of the BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism (BAMMJ) course here at BU. It is of the most recognised courses in the country for the sheer breadth of what it covers, as graduates go on to work across every single part of the journalism industry.
Not only was that versatility celebrated on the night, but the depth of some of the myriad pieces of journalistic work, from across all three years of study, was honoured too.
The presentation of the night, with students leading almost every category, was theatrical, loud and exciting.
To give you just a flavour of the various hosting gigs: The first year hosts, Becky Buckle and Ross Mondon, were carried in by shirtless rugby players (who ‘dressed to impress’ as instructed, solitary ties on their chests). The fact it was all done to a Kanye West jam made it even more impressively over the top, befitting a night full of good humour and good spirits.
Another extremely over the top entrance was by Nerve presenters Alex Blundell and Ben Coley. The pair were presenting the section dedicated to the Student Union media arm, Nerve, and their amazingly played out ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ introduction was befitting of Nerve’s irreverence and energy.
Ben Coley and Alex Blundell are up next to present the Nerve Media section but only Alex is on stage, so where’s Ben?
— Buzz (@buzz_bmth) March 8, 2019
Level 5 hosts Maya Derrick and Josh Taylor played up the crowd in their section by playing a game of ‘Higher or Lower’ with their lecturer’s Twitter followers. It seemed the partisan crowd yelled ‘Higher’ whenever they wanted a lecturer to do better regardless of the actual numbers.
On a night which honoured the course’s behind-the-scenes organisers, it was a great way to show vocal support for the hard-working lecturers and support staff.
Third year hosts Meg Winton and Jake Stolte’s chemistry and banter also made for an entertaining section. The significance of the event falling on International Women’s Day was not forgotten by them.
All the hosts, and many attendees, wore purple to celebrate the event. It was another reminder of journalism’s continous responsibility to highlight societal problems and how we collectively can solve them.
One of the best (no bias here, just being objective as a journalist should…) sections of the evening was the live voting section, hosted by yours truly. Prestigious categories like ‘Most Likely To Get Chucked Out Of A Press Conference’ and ‘Best Dressed’, badges of honour for any self-respecting journalist, were up for grabs.
The crowd did not disappoint as their chants and raucuousness finally got to make tangible change.
Akshay is hosting the live award section!
— Buzz (@buzz_bmth) March 8, 2019
The jokey camaraderie on display extended to the various awards themselves. Some notable prizes included the ‘Dan Jackson Trophy’ (a six pack of Heineken), a book of ‘strictly unofficial’ Donald Trump poetry, and a Sun bottle opener.
Considering the rewards were chosen by the lecturers, it seemed they understood the students better than most teachers seem to do.
The jokes and quips throughout the evening were (again, objectively) of high quality.
Some highlights include Dr Dan Jackson calling a viva, a respected academic testing method, a ‘s**t awards show with s**t hosts’; and Dr Brad Gyori highlighting the irony of a homelessness documentary being made by perennially poor and hungry students.
Significance not lost
But despite how the night played out, with a jokey atmosphere and a feelgood vibe throughout, the significance of the journalistic awards being handed out was not lost.
There were some hard-hitting topics being dealt with in many of the pieces on display. The academic rigour some of the winners displayed to get their awards was nothing short of amazing.
Transgender rights were talked about in an award-winning first year news package by Anna Minter. From knife crime in a second year TV package, by Ellie Moore, to a third year documentary about paedophile hunters, by Luke Hewitt, it seemed there was no issue that was big enough to be approached by this ambitious cohort.
The awards which were not directly awarding journalistic pieces, equally, gave a sense of journalism’s influential place in the world. This included awards for excellent work in media, journalism, and society, global current affairs, and public affairs.
The poignancy of the night was really underscored by the trophy for Best Audio Production, awarded to Georgina Barnes.
This prize was posthomously named in honour of former radio technical tutor Alan Brown, who tragically passed away in July 2017.
The award was presented by his widow Mel Brown, who remarked how much the great man would have loved Georgina’s documentary. It was a touching moment and drew some of the most heartfelt applause of the night.
Some more considered applause was reserved for two distinguished BAMMJ alumni – Tara Evans, of The Sun, and Jasper Taylor, of Sky Sports News.
The two former students spoke frankly about their experiences in the industry, and shared tips for the eager upcomers in the room. It was a great learning experience for all involved.
The BAMMJ course’s place in the country was also highlighted by the NCTJ awards, presented by Newsquest director Toby Granville. It again higlighted the prestige of the night and how meaningful the awards were.
Just how meaningful they were was reflected in the only standing ovation of the night, for Outstanding Student Contribution. The biggest student gong of the night went to Alice Knight, whose tireless work really shone through in a brilliantly edited reel of her best journalism.
It said a lot about both BU’s course and the sheer tenacity of Alice that she got the biggest cheer of the night, simply because of how significant her work was. Not just for the university, but for the country at large, considering her report about then-missing teenager Gaia Pope made it onto the BBC.
The night ended, then, with some heartfelt love for the lecturers, and organisers of the night – Dr Brad Gyori, Karen Ballam, Dr Andy Bissell, and Phill Brown. The love for their craft, and for their students, really shone through in their emotional acceptance speeches.
On a night where the vibrancy and dynamism of a young cohort of journalists shone through, it was appropriate that it ended with them honouring their lecturers. Emotional and academic guides throughout, the BAMMJ course would never be the same without their tireless teaching.
A course which has already produced world-leading impactful journalism saw fit to recognise the next generation of world-beaters.
Amongst all the beer and diss-track-filled showreels, it also produced a lasting feeling of affinity and inspiration, the greatest ever journalistic tools.
Oh, what a night!
FULL LIST OF WINNERS:
Best Student Work (Media, Journalism, and Society – Awarded by Dan Jackson) – Paul Tregunna
Most Improved (Media, Journalism, and Society – Awarded by Dan Jackson) – Joshua Buck
Best Civics (Public Affairs – Awarded by David Brine) – Paul Tregunna
Best News Package (News and Online 1 – Nominated by Miriam Phillips, awarded by public vote) – Anna Minter
Best Student Work (Public Affairs – Awarded by David Brine) – Sam Hodgson
Best Student Magazine (Features and Online 1 – Nominated by Mary Hogarth, awarded by public vote) – The 9am (Courtney Hill, Maya Derrick, Kelsey Etheridge, Andy Goldman)
Best Features for Change Audio (Broadcast Journalism 2 – Nominated by Phill Brown, awarded by public vote) – Maddie Ursell
Best Features for Change Video (Broadcast Journalism 2 – Nominated by Mike Sunderland, awarded by public vote) – Understanding Trans (Courtney Hill, Connor Stringer, Beth Dean, Abbie Bradford)
Best TV Package (Broadcast Journalism 2 – Nominated by Mike Sunderland, awarded by public vote) – Ellie Moore and Meg Hinton
Best Interactive Documentary (Features and Online 2 – Nominated by Brad Gyori, awarded by public vote) – Cop till you drop (Calum Goddard-Mocklow, Zlatna Nedeva, Alex Blundell, Dan Davis, Ben Coley)
Best Portfolio (Global Current Affairs – Awarded by Roman Gerodimos) – Rachel Milling
Best Multiple Choice Quiz (Global Current Affairs – Awarded by Roman Gerodimos) – Akshay Kulkarni
Most Improved (Shorthand – Awarded by Karen Ballam) – George Heal
Best Overall (Shorthand – Awarded by Karen Ballam) – Ben Coley
Best Individual Project (Converged Newsdays – Awarded by Miriam Phillips) – Ben Coley
Best TV Bulletin (Converged Newsdays – Awarded by Miriam Phillips) – Group C
Best Major Multimedia Project (Print and Online) (Major Multimedia Project – Nominated by Phill Brown, awarded by public vote) – DJ Minds Matter (Molly Gardner)
Best Major Multimedia Project (Audio) (Major Multimedia Project – Nominated by Phill Brown, awarded by public vote) – Tracks To Recovery (Alice Knight)
Best Major Multimedia Project (Audio) (Major Multimedia Project – Nominated by Phill Brown, awarded by public vote) – Stung: Meet Britain’s Paedophile Hunters (Luke Hewitt)
Outstanding BAMMJ Contribution to Nerve Magazine – Jake Carter
Outstanding BAMMJ Contribution to Nerve Radio – Kit Danks
Outstanding BAMMJ Contribution to Nerve News – Drew Miller Hyndman
Best Dressed – Stephanie Silom
Most Likely To Get Chucked Out Of A Press Conference – Drew Miller Hyndman
Best Reel – Level 6 (Alys Miller)
Best Hosts – Maya Derrick and Josh Taylor (Level 5)
Best Video Production (Awarded by Shaun Osborne) – Jess Reid
Alan Brown Award for Best Audio Production (Awarded by Mel Brown) – Georgina Barnes
Level 4: Sandra-Maria Stoica
Level 5: Megan Hinton
Level 6: Ryan Evans
WALL OF FAME (ALUMNI AWARDS): Tara Evans (The Sun) and Jasper Taylor (Sky Sports)
OUTSTANDING STUDENT CONTRIBUTION: Alice Knight
‘YOU’RE BRILLIANT!’ STAFF AWARDS: Brad Gyori, Andy Bissell, Karen Ballam, and Phill Brown.
Pictures by Claire McCrory and Sophie Fenton-Hobbs
Words by Akshay Kulkarni