Brighton student named top sports journalist at UK awards

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University of Brighton student, Leon Imber, has been named Student Sports Journalist of the year at the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) Awards.

The final-year Sports Journalism BA (Hons) student emerged winner of the Sport Journalist (student category) award for three of his stories which focused on the life of athletes on and off the field of play.

The prize-winning stories include a 2023 piece for ESPN, in which Leon traced the difficult yet inspiring journeys of how three gay sportsmen found the courage to come out publicly.

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This award, which is sponsored by Sky Sports, comes a year after Leon completed an intensive 12-month internship at the London office of international sports broadcaster ESPN.

Leon busy working.Leon busy working.
Leon busy working.

As part of his degree programme, Leon started by reporting on football matches involving Brighton & Hove Albion, Lewes and Eastbourne Town, as well as covering Southend United for a local paper in his native Essex. Even before finishing his degree, Leon has already started working with TNT Sports, covering some of the biggest names in world football and other sports.

Leon said: “It's such a privilege and honour to pick up the award alongside journalists who have contributed such important work in the industry. I'm grateful to the University of Brighton for giving me the foundations to push into the national media and contribute work of my own, and it is a special honour to be recognised by the NCTJ after studying on its diploma for the last three years.”

He continued: “I've loved my experiences in the professional environment so far, from Southend United to ESPN and now working with TNT Sports. I'm now in the final few months of my undergraduate course at Brighton and I am looking forward to continuing to do my best to contribute important work in the industry. I'd love to continue to build my editorial and news desk experience after leaving university.”

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Reacting to Leon’s accomplishments, Sport Journalism and Journalism Course leader, Adam Powley said: “Having taught and worked with Leon on his studies, helping him with his overall development, we’re delighted to see his excellent work rewarded and acknowledged in this way. The NCTJ awards are among the most prestigious and competitive in the industry, so it’s a real achievement to come top of such a high-quality field. This is testament to Leon’s skill, engagement, and enthusiasm, and the ongoing support of staff.”

Leon at work.Leon at work.
Leon at work.

All the journalism degree courses at the University of Brighton are NCTJ-accredited - meaning graduates are industry ready with recognised professional qualifications. Journalism students on both BA and MA programmes at Brighton take an NCTJ diploma along with their Hons courses.

The programmes leverage strong industry links to provide students with valuable work experience while they study whether through industry placements or degree apprenticeships courses covering an expanding range of work areas.

Leon's Sport Journalism course, for instance, has created Premier League reporting opportunities with Arsenal as well as Brighton & Hove Albion.

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