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Guardian Student Media Awards 2006 November 12, 2006

Posted by ayasawada in Personal.

MediaGuardian.co.uk | Student Media Awards | Student Media Awards 2006

It was a proud night for Imperial College London. Our institute full of nerds can surprisingly read and write and that includes myself. I,Science, the Imperial science magazine of which I was the Editor, finished runner-up in the Best Student Magazine category. I’m dead chuffed, but feel a little overshadowed by achievements elsewhere.

Imperial scooped the biggest prizes in front of all those arts students. Felix won Student Newspaper of the year and the Editor, Rupert Neate, picked up the Student Journalist of the Year award, as well as runner-up in the Best Student Reporter category. The combination of relentless editorial control and sensational stories made Rupert, in hindsight, the logical choice for Journalist of the Year – walking away with some £2000+ of total prize-money. I was rather flabergasted by the nominations, but suspected that might lead to a win. In truth, I thought that Felix was a terrible newspaper, appalling written in places, full of sensationalist stories, toilet humour and tabloid features like ‘page 3’ and advice from ‘The Hoff’ (David Hassellhoff – fictionally of course). It was an out-and-out tabloid and Rupert was very clear that this was what he intended. I may hate tabloids, but as the judges rightly pointed out it had very clear news values, did exactly what it set out to, and was completely unlike any other student paper in the country. I hold my hands up, it paid off.

Bizzarity aside, it was a wonderful evening, capping an inspiring day. Three of us from Imperial had spent it at the Guardian Media Conference, held at the RichMix Centre in Shoreditch. It was a day full of fascinating seminars, from addresses by Alan Rusbridger, Editor-in-chief of the Guardian, and Samire Ahmed of Channel 4 news, to sessions on Digital Journalism (Blogs, podcasts, YouTube, 24 hour news and the like), what editor’s need to know and Feature writing. A host of top-media specialists (including, of course, a boat-load of Guardian writers and editors) were there to give advice and answer a whole load of, surprisingly intelligent, questions from the audience. I’ve been to so many inane Q&As that, honestly, I was rather shocked at the quality of it all. Lunch was a bit of a blow-out, the students put in a dark room to fight over sandwiches and fruit, but at least the coffee was good. More importantly, it stimulated me for the first time in months (the conference that is, not the coffee). I’ve had my head down for so long, I’d almost forgotten what I liked about this media stuff in the first place. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be a reporter, but I certainly want to be an editor. From the sounds of things, telling people what to do is good way to spend your life.

With the conference out of the way, it was time to party – and the awards did not disappoint. Held at the spectacular LSO St Luke’s, a converted church, it was everything I had expected. We were a little concerned when the warm-up reception featured the use of drinks vouchers, but our fears subsided as we were led into the main areana, full of spotlights, big screens, tables, music, generous amounts of finger-food, and more free booze than you can shake a stick at (random photos on Flickr). We mingled with the Guardian science journalists. Alan Rusbridger stood up to give his address. Lauren Laverne was presenting! Hooray! And as the awards moved very swiftly along, I got more and more nervous as our category approached. We all whispered round the table, humbly, how we’d be really pleased with second place and it’d be a ‘fantastic achievement for a science magazine’ and that there was no way we’d win ‘seeing as the judges were from Heat magazine and Good Housekeeping’. Secretly though, we wanted to win. Then it came, Best Student Magazine. I held my breath. A tough category, and two runner’s up this year – Imperial’s I,Science and Oxford’s Isis. Exhale. Yet surprisingly, I wasn’t too disappointed. Those three glasses of wine must have helped. The lights came up (they only stay down for the winners it seems). I walked up to the stage, careful not to trip over the stairs. ‘It’s Lauren Laverne – she’s tall. She wants a kiss – smooch! That was nice. Here’s my envelope. £250 ! Yay! Do I get a photo? No, ok. I guess I’ll go back to my table then….’

I barely heard the actual winner (Quench from Cardiff University). There was much back-slappage back at the table though. And then we were blown away by the Felix lot. Oh well. Good on Imperial. From then on it becomes a bit of a blur. The awards finished. I remember drinking more wine than I intended and having conversations with the Guardian science journalists. Then all of a sudden people started going home. 10pm? I meant to go home then. But there were the University of Manchester lot and I got into a conversation about football. Before I knew it, it was 10:45 and chucking out time. I was far too drunk and a couple of us were easily coerced into another bar. Heck, I had no idea how I was getting home, and besides, how often does one get to party with broadsheet journalists?

And this my finest hour became my not so finest hour. Never mix wine, beer and miscellaneous other spirits. It tends to come back (literally) so you regret it. Particularly when you end up sitting backwards in a black cab riding through east London at 2am. I woke up in Guardian journalist’s flat in Highbury, with my friend on the couch and me on the floor, and the distinct memory of desecrating the man’s bathroom. Oh dear, there goes any networking kudos.

We made a quiet exit and found ourselves walking past Arsenal’s Emirates stadium at 6am. And I had the most horrible day at work ever. Such is the life of a man in the media.



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