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In this article, we’re looking at the award for Best Journalistic Programming. We’re going to have a look at a couple of examples of some past winning entries, what the difference is between Best Journalistic Programming and Best Speech Programming (probably our most frequently asked question) and a look at some of the past winners of this category and what they’re up to now.

What is this award all about?
This category is designed to recognise programmes that form part of the station’s news or current affairs output. One-off special features or programmes will be considered as well as regular programmes and services. Special consideration will be given to programmes that are targeted at the student audience. This category is for programmes that are ‘aimed to inform’.

Audio:  A compilation of the programme(s). Maximum audio entry length is 7 minutes.

Written: A maximum of 1000 words about how the programme was presented and produced with a particular emphasis on how stories and information were gathered, developed and compiled into an informative broadcast.


Best Journalistic Programming 2015 – URN – Sam Boyle and Emma Pearce

Previous Winners

A big Midlands showing of previous winners in this category, with URN and Fly FM in Nottingham picking up the majority of the last five years’ Gold awards, as well as Scratch Radio in Birmingham.

2015 – The Pulse – URN
2014 – The Student Underworld – Scratch Radio
2013 – Trent Talk – Fly FM
2012 – The Pulse – The Truth About Taxis – URN
2011 – Nineteen: Now or Never? – (now Leeds Student Radio!)

Is my entry Best Speech or Best Journalistic Programming?

This is a tricky one as every entry is different and should be considered as such. Saying that, a good rule of thumb is that if your entry is at all scripted, then it’s probably Speech rather than Journalistic. However, if you wrote scripted packages to add context to your journalistic work, then it can still be considered as journalism.

Got that?!

Another thing to consider is that some Best Journalistic entries could sit equally well in Best Sport, Best OB, or even Best Multiplatform. This is absolutely fine, and you CAN enter shows for two categories, but the same content MUST NOT cross over too much.

If in doubt about **any** of this, please email our judges directly at They are the only people who are allowed to advise you further on what category your entry falls into, as we (as SRA committee) stand back from the awards judging itself so that we don’t bias anything.

What should I put in my WRITTEN entry?

Always remember that the written entry is just as important as the audio. Especially for this category, where you’re going to have to provide context as to what the entry is all about and how you went about putting it together – these are both things that won’t come across in the audio.

There’s so much you can write for this category that it’s hard to know where to start, but I’ve come up with some bullet points that good/winning previous entries seem to have in common:

  • Why is this topic important?
  • Why is it relevant to your student audience?
  • What original journalism did you do and how did you go about it?
  • Did you use any other forms of media to tell your story? Video? Social media? Web stories?
  • How did you go about your research? (Wikipedia is NOT the answer. Well, I mean most of the time it is, but if you won’t admit to it in a bibliography of a student essay, CERTAINLY don’t mention it here!)
  • Did you have journalists on-site? Was the broadcast live? Was it packaged up? How did you go about putting together one cohesive programme?
  • If you weren’t telling a specifically student story (for example you were covering the referendum) how did you make it different from other news sources – and how was this more relevant to students?

I think I’ve given you enough to think about there – so let’s move on to some previous entries that have done rather well…

Example Entry

I thought that I should embed some audio here that you’re not going to get from going to the past audio bit of our website. So… this first entry is one of URN’s and mine to a certain extent. This was the Bronze entry from 2012 – The Science Show. It was our first year of broadcast, so you’ll have to excuse the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

Notice for this entry, it’s NOT journalism as you know it – it’s not investigative, and a lot of it is scripted packages. But it falls under the ‘aim to inform’ rubric of this category, and therefore is considered as Journalism.

(Interestingly enough, after I left URN, The Science Show did a show that was completely scripted, all about the makings of the Universe and Life on Earth. Because of this, it was entered under ‘Best Speech’ and ended up placing in that category in 2014.)

This next example entry is probably what I would consider more traditional journalism. This is the Gold entry for 2012, again from URN. LOOK, URN is my old station, so it’s very easy for me to access our old audio from when we all went mad doing Awards entry-making time! (And also they won’t care if I ever make fun of it!)

And here is the written part of that same entry:

After a URN night out at the pub, a taxi driver attempted to charge us £10 for a one mile journey, point-blank refusing to put us on the meter. Rather than moaning about this, we saw it as an opportunity to investigate an issue which students continually grumble about but very rarely act upon – getting a fair deal from taxis after a night out. This resulted in a well-researched, highly produced 20 minute package which was put on our blog for students to comment on.

The Pulse is URN’s news show and every day we present a live hour of student issues both from campus, the surrounding area and also on a national level. This year we wanted to stretch ourselves further by creating a series of ‘Pulse Specials’. These were intended to be one-off, intensely researched broadcasts rooted in issues that we regularly heard students around us discussing. Rather than presenting the problem with taxis on the following day’s Pulse, as would be normal procedure, we decided to begin further research for an in-depth special investigation to be aired two months later. We wanted to find out what the rules surrounding taxi fares actually are, how many students know about them and what the council does to tackle any problems that arise.

We started by sending out a survey to gauge popular opinion about taxis. This ensured that our broadcast stemmed from problems brought to our attention by students. The survey also provided the opportunity to publicise the Pulse special weeks in advance. It asked whether students check the meter is on before setting off in a Hackney Carriage, whether they have ever got into a private hire car without booking it, and finally we left space for open-ended comments. The survey received almost 200 responses, with 50 leaving personal anecdotes. Their stories confirmed to us that there certainly was a problem which warranted discussion, such as the fact that 82% of 170 students asked have illegally hailed a private hire mini-cab without booking it (4:48). We collected more primary evidence by going into Nottingham on a Friday and checking for ourselves how many taxi drivers would put their meters on – this was made into a package (2:24).

Armed with our results, we set about contacting relevant parties to make sure that we could provide balanced coverage – giving all concerned the right of response to the student experiences we had collected. We interviewed the Lead Councillor for Community Safety from Nottingham City Council, the manager of a local mini-cab firm, a taxi driver and finally we voxed dozens more students. As well as this, one survey response revealed a scheme at Leeds University Union which aimed to help students who had run out of money for a taxi home after a night out, so we spoke to a member of their Students Union Executive for more details on this scheme (4:03). And finally we were put in contact with two Nottingham University students who have created a smartphone app which allows users to rate taxi firms, thus forcing companies to improve their services (6:05).

On the surface, the topic of taxis can appear quite mundane – we all get in them each week and largely think very little of it. In order to make the package sound as interesting as we believe the topic to be, we set out to make it fast-paced, moving swiftly from one section to another using an array of different clips, voices, sound-effects and beds. We spent a significant amount of time deliberating about what music to use in order to keep the piece upbeat and exciting, without trivialising the subject matter. We also included ‘teaser’ clips as a way of grabbing the listener’s attention early on (00:17). In advance of the broadcast, we used Twitter and Facebook plugs as well as a website promotion using a mock-up of a taxi license card to attract listeners.

In order to keep students involved throughout the show, we plugged Twitter, asked people to text in their thoughts and directed them to our Facebook page so they had the chance to leave comments. At the end of the package, we conducted a live interview with two members of the Student’s Union in which we talked about some issues raised by this correspondence (6:56). During this interview we also considered whether students could change their behaviour to make taxi drivers more sympathetic towards them, as had been suggested by many students in the survey. In addition to this, in the original package, we included voxes of students sharing positive experiences in which taxi drivers have gone out of their way to help them.

As this is an on-going issue, which, thanks to our broadcast, the Student’s Union are slowly beginning to tackle, we believed a blog post was a necessity. This allowed students to listen again to the package and to leave their thoughts in a comments section. We also provided a link to the City Council complaints page, in keeping with the advice given by Councillor Alex, who urged students to report drivers not sticking to the rules so that something can be done about it (5:34). From the initial planning and preparation, to the weeks after the package was broadcast, Nottingham students were given the chance to share their opinions on the issues we raised.

We feel this was an important project. It was intended to open a dialogue between the Student’s Union, taxi companies, the council and students themselves to debate solutions to the problems which occur every day in Nottingham cabs. Councillor Alex was concerned by our findings that students felt they were given insufficient information about getting taxis when they started at Nottingham University, and is now reviewing how the council can make the key messages clearer (5:09). This demonstrates that student radio can do more than just inform and entertain – it can also be a vehicle for change and improvement in the everyday lives of students.



Here’s what last year’s winners of Best Journalistic Programming have to say about why they think URN are successful in winning this award:

What are winners of this category doing now?

Emma Pearce (above, 2015 winner) is working at BBC Radio 4.

The 2013 winners from Fly FM – well, moving away from journalism, Claire Chambers is now a presenter at Capital East Midlands.

2012 – Misha Ewen and Emma Lautman are busy doing PhDs. Robin Murphy works for BBC iPlayer. So do I, but also I’m currently an assistant producer at BBC Sport – social media. Stu Manton is a Network Producer at Capital.

2010 – The Pulse – Lewis Vickers is a Producer at BBC Radio 4. Anna Jones is a Broadcast Journalist at Sky. Serena Andrews is a Broadcast Journalist at BBC Radio Oxford.

That’s it!

Good luck in putting your entry together. I hope you’ve found this useful. Remember the deadline is Friday 15th July at 5pm. No later than that as we are very strict and we turn off the entry system on the dot.

And remember, on the 10th November at the indigO2, this could be you picking up your award for Best Journalistic Programming in Student Radio.