Five DMU journalism students shortlisted for prestigious media awards

Five students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have made it on to the shortlist for awards celebrating the best journalists in the Midlands.

Three final year students and two graduates from DMU’s Leicester Centre for Journalism have been recognised for their writing talents in the annual Midlands Media Students’ Awards which are held in Birmingham on Wednesday


Leicester Centre for Journalism senior lecturer Brian Dodds said all those who made it to the shortlist were ‘rightly proud of their achievements’ for producing articles ‘that are quite simply a great read’.

BA Journalism and Politics student Charlie Hawes has been shortlisted in four different categories – News, Sport, Social & Campaigning Journalism and Features. Final year BA Journalism student Alice Wright has been shortlisted in the Sport category, fellow final year BA Journalism student Courtney Stevens has been shortlisted in the Features category.

BA Journalism and International Relations graduate Shaika Rahimi is shortlisted for Features and Journalism and Politics grad Nick Gascoyne appears in the shortlist for features.

Brian said: “We're absolutely delighted for the students to be shortlisted for these awards, and judging by the smiles on faces, they're rightfully proud of their achievements.

“But in some ways, I'm not surprised. Every year we have students who pull from the bag some really excellent pieces of work that gives us, their tutors, a really warming sense of satisfaction, having witnessed them learn and develop their journalistic skills in our workshops.

“Of course, just getting shortlisted is excellent for their CVs as they start embarking on their future careers but their portfolio of work that they've produced is in itself a huge employability asset - they've produced articles that are quite simply a great read.”

Birmingham Press Club chairman Llewela Bailey said: “We are all looking forward to the return of the Awards – the first we have been able to organise since the start of the Covid outbreak.

“As ever, the quality of the work submitted by media students from both the East and West Midlands has proven to be both outstanding and inspiring.”

You can read the shortlisted journalists’ stories below


Charlie Hawes

Journalism and Politics

"I am really interested in farming and I have a farming family in Great Glen [south Leicestershire]. I really want to get this portion of society’s stories heard in the news. So, I looked at how issues like the war in Ukraine, Brexit and the cost of living is affecting the farming community.

"Farmers are seeing big increases in food prices and yet they still have to feed their livestock, or heat their home and pay themselves a salary. I also looked into how farmers are having to diversify their farms to maximise profits. 

"I also submitted a feature about Howard Riley (Wigston-born Leicester City player from the 60s) auctioning off his kit and medals.

"I was really surprised to be shortlisted in four categories. It is nice to see different types of journalism recognised in this way. I would like to work for someone like DEFRA, in the press department. That way I would be liaising with the media and with politicians."


Alice Wright: BA Journalism final year

"I interviewed Hannah Cain – the Leicester City forward – who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury and how that affected her mental health. I also interviewed Ashleigh Plumptre, the ex-Leicester City women’s player and what it is like to be a Leicester City player as well as growing up a fan of the club. And finally, I wrote an opinion piece about Leicester City’s relegation from the Premier League.

"I have grown up being a Leicester fan. My Dad got me into Leicester from about the age of four so I have spent 16 years following City.

"The LCFC Women’s Supporters Club got in touch and I have written match reports, previews and features.

"I am also doing one day a month work experience at the Mail on Sunday (Alice recently had a match report on a Chelsea game published in the Mail on Sunday with her own by-line).

"I have always had a dream to work for Leicester City but since going down to the Mail on Sunday and loving the atmosphere I would like to pursue that line, particularly writing about women’s football. I’d love to contribute towards the growth of women’s football as it is in its ascendancy."


Courtney Stevens: BA Journalism final year

"I got in touch with a woman in America who was in an abusive relationship focusing on how she got into the relationship, how she managed to get out and how she has coped with the mental and physical scars.

"I then interviewed a woman from Australia, now living in London, who moved away from her parents who were emotionally controlling and then I wrote a feature about a woman who grew up in a Christian cult.

"I found all of these people on Facebook who agreed to share their stories. One of them messaged me to say thank you and how it had really helped knowing her story had been told and that she could read it back herself

"I would love to go into magazines, particularly fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan or Vogue. I always love writing features and I buy these magazines religiously."


Shaikha Rahimi: BA Journalism and International Relations graduate

"It is really rewarding. My submission was part of my final year project to create a magazine and I had spent a while completing it. One of my lecturers, Jeremy Clay, encouraged me to enter. Having that support from him was great. I do not think I would be in the position I am without his support and encouragement.

"The three features I submitted were about the good the bad and the ugly parts of fan culture. I wrote about a student who spent her loan on merchandise for Beyonce and also a psychologist on how and why fan culture impacts people’s lives.

"I then wrote a feature about an American who had an opioid addiction and spoke to a charity about it. Then I wrote a feature about the phenomenon of Maradona and how so many fans see him as a god and football as their religion

"I am now a comms officer at a youth charity called LEAP Consulting Conflict which aims to reduce knife crime and youth violence.

"Everyone at DMU has been super supportive and do everything in their power to push you outside your comfort zone. Sometimes I look back and think ‘wow, they were right you know’. The things they have taught have added so much value to my job."


Nick Gascoyne: Journalism and Politics graduate

"I really wasn’t expecting to be shortlisted. I applied because my lecturers recommended I send in my features. I am really proud about what I wrote and really proud to have some recognition for something I really enjoy doing.

"I love to get a unique perspective on people’s lives and what they do. I wrote about a guy from Sweden who was a former vegan who changed his diet to eating raw meat and fermented raw cows’ milk. It was about his pursuit to improve his health and he claimed it had cured his acne!

"I also submitted an article about a woman who collects zombie dolls and she says they are her family and calls them her family!

"Then my third feature was about ‘caretakers of death’ – three people who worked around death. So, I spoke to a forensic pathologist, a group of crime scene cleaners and a mortuary assistant. It was fascinating and I heard all sorts of things that gave an insight into something people don’t normally talk about.

"I definitely want to go into the world of writing rather than politics."

Posted on Tuesday 7th November 2023

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