Budding journalists from across Northern Ireland converged on UTV studios last Saturday (26 September 2009) to hear some breaking news – the results of the European Commission’s Relief Reporters competition.
Twenty one young people from as far as Derry, Dungannon and Enniskillen collected their finalist certificates from Simon Horner of ECHO, the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department in Brussels and UTV presenter Lynda Bryans at a special awards ceremony in the UTV studios.
Following the awards ceremony in UTV’s studio 1, the finalists were treated to a behind the scenes tour, where they had an opportunity to meet some professional journalists including UTV presenter Linda Bryans. Also in the audience were competition judges BBC’s Michelle Napier, Austin Hunter and former UTV sports presenter Adrian Logan.
Four winners (across three age categories) had an opportunity to record their reports again within a professional broadcast environment - UTV’s studio 3 - under the guidance of UTV director Robert Lamrock. The winners were Leanne Carton from Westmeath, Nicole-Anna Johnston and Claire Miller from Dundonald and Victoria Todd from Castlederg.
Speaking at the ceremony, Simon Horner, Head of Communication in ECHO said,
“Through this competition we aimed to increase understanding of the European Union's role in global humanitarian aid, while offering a valuable and fun experience for young people. We were delighted by the response to this competition, and by the standard of the entries we received. The plight of people across the world seems to have captured the hearts and minds of young people in Northern Ireland. I congratulate all our finalists and particularly our winners on the professionalism, accuracy and creativity of their reports.”
Commenting on the standard of competition entries, Austin Hunter chair of the judging panel, and former Editor-in-Chief of the News Letter said;
“We have been amazed by the caliber of the entries. Young people seemed to have a good knowledge of humanitarian issues stemming from natural disasters and conflicts. Understandably many of the participants were a little shy at the outset, but they developed confidence and ability as they practiced and perfected their news reports. These covered topics as diverse as hurricanes in Haiti, and earthquakes in Peru to rodent plagues in Bangladesh and conflict in the Philippines.”