Here's to the Journalists of tomorrow | Press release me, let me go | 9 May 2012 | Amnesty International UK

Here's to the Journalists of tomorrow

It’s been an exciting day, here at the Human Rights Action Centre with our HQ transformed into a lush awards venue. “Why?” I hear you ask. Well, today marks the climax of our Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year competition and literally just a few seconds ago, we announced our winners.

The competition attracted over 3,000 participants from all four corners of the UK and was split into four categories – Upper Primary, Lower Secondary, Upper Secondary and Sixth Form. Now in its third year, the competition was run in collaboration with the Guardian Teacher Network and the education weekly SecEd. The top three in each category were invited to the ceremony, along with a parent, a teacher and a classmate.

Now, for me, it’s a brilliant event. Journalists are fundamental in the battle to preserve and protect human rights across the globe. Just look at the key role they have played in Burma, Egypt, Syria and here in the UK. Each year we celebrate their achievements at our Media Awards – coming up soon on 29 May – but the key challenge is how to inspire the journalists of tomorrow, how to find the people who will take up the mantle of past winners, individuals like Ian Cobain and Jack Shenker – both of whom were at today’s ceremony?

Hopefully the competition will prove to be their inspiration. And, perhaps, some of the talented young people who won today and maybe a handful of the thousands of others who took part, will win at the Media Awards in future years.

The topics covered ranged from labour camps to forced evictions, and from the plight of Travellers to the death penalty, and just about everything in between. It was a competition that engaged not just the imagination of pupils but also the local media with coverage all over the country. Here are just some of the examples, Coventry Telegraph, Harringey Independent, York Press and the Salisbury Journal.

Anyway, enough of the background. Drum roll please. And the winners were…

In Upper Primary, 12-year-old Aine Clarke, from Newport near Dundee in Scotland. In Lower Secondary the award went to Alice Reynolds from the Royal School in Haslemere. In Upper Secondary, 16-year-old Heather Booton took the top honour. The Skipton Girls’ High School pupil wrote about abortions in Kenya. And the final winner was Alice Woodhouse from Kings High School in Warwick. Alice, who turned 17 on Monday, wrote about prejudice against the Roma communities.

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