• Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

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How this journalism graduate has been recognised for exam excellence


A graduate from the University of Sunderland has been rewarded for having one of the highest results in the country by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

Ethan Aaron Banks, who studied BA Journalism at the University and graduated in 2023, received the award for achieving the highest results for the Practical Magazine Journalism (PMJ) exam as part of the NCTJ Journalism diploma.

The PMJ exam requires students to put together a magazine article that aims to give trainee journalists the skills to work for publications.

Ethan said: “I was that happy when the NCTJ contacted me saying I’d won the Practical Magazine Journalism Award, I almost burst into tears.

“Receiving this award wouldn’t have been possible without the brilliant Steph Robson, who opened up to me about living with dwarfism and how impactful Ellie’s appearance was for her and the rest of the dwarfism community, Paralympian and disability advocate Baroness Grey-Thompson and Dr Barbara Sadler.

“This achievement also wouldn’t have been earned if it wasn’t for talented journalism lecturers Liz Lamb and Dr Alistair Robinson, who always ensured my classmates and I fully understood the art of feature writing and captivating storytelling, thanks to their years of experience and invaluable help and support. I’m lucky to have been taught by them both.”

After graduating, Ethan started working at the Essex Echo but has since left to pursue his passion for entertainment journalism.

Ethan added: “Getting the accolade has touched me even more because I was in the bottom band for English in school. However, I always strived to be better.

“The message here is it doesn’t matter if you’re in low sets. If you work hard, aim high and believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.”

Ethan has gone on to interview several celebrities, including Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel and presenter Sarah Greene.

Liz Lamb, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, helps prepare students for the NCTJ Practical Magazine Journalism exam, teaching them how to find story ideas, write features, and promote their work on social media.

Liz said: “I was so happy when I received the text from Ethan to say he had been awarded the highest grade in the country. It’s an amazing achievement.

“He should be proud of himself for working hard to write a topical feature that tackled diversity in mainstream television.

“Ethan is one of those students who was a pleasure to teach. He listened to the advice of his lecturers, strived to achieve the best sources for his story, and acted on feedback to write his feature in a compelling and emotive way.

It’s a fantastic read. I am sure Ethan has a bright future ahead of him.”

If you are interested in studying Journalism at the University, find out more here: https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/study/journalism-and-pr/undergraduate-journalism/