Student Publication Association National Conference 2024

The SPA National Awards and Conference is back for another year!

Fresh off of our most successful year yet at Glasgow in 2023, #SPANC24 is coming to Bristol from 12th - 14th April 2024 with a top lineup of speakers, workshops, networking meet ups and the UK’s largest student publication awards.

Last year we celebrated our 10th anniversary by bringing a record-breaking number of talented student journalists from up and down the country together in one place for a weekend of Scottish fun.

This time around we’re taking SPANC to the South West for the first time ever. Thanks to our host publications Epigram, The Croft, The Bristorian, La Civetta and That's What She Said Magazine, we're ready to take over the city of balloons, bridges and Banksy.

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Meet our host publications

What's included in my ticket?

Second release ticket sales are on sale now! Your all-in, one-stop admission will give you more than ever before - so you won’t have to worry about anything except making the most of your weekend.

  • A welcome social on Friday (with food!) giving you the chance to meet other student journalists and let off some steam.

  • Access to the full conference programme with panel discussions and keynote speaker events from top journalists.

  • Access to one-to-one drop in sessions with senior industry professionals, as well as workshops to get bespoke feedback on your work.

  • Your chance to run for election to be part of the SPA’s executive committee next year and put on an even better event.

  • A goody bag full of freebies, last year’s included sweet treats, magazines, our glossy brochure and more.

  • Meet students from across the UK and Ireland, network, and swap copies of your student publications.

  • A reserved seat at the SPA Awards, including a three-course sit-down dinner and drinks, as we celebrate the best of student journalism.

  • Meals during the conference itself on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

  • Accommodated tickets also include breakfast and a bed in a twin room at a hotel in central Bristol.

  • An opportunity to vote at our AGM to shape SPA policy for the next year (this year we added three new awards categories based on last year’s motions).

    Thanks to our sponsors for supporting #SPANC24...

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    Looking for awards? Keep scrolling!

    #SPANC24 is set to be our biggest national conference yet - giving you the chance to hear from industry experts, network with members from across the UK and Ireland, brush up your skills with our hands-on workshops and leave with plenty of tips for improving your student publication and entering the journalism industry.

    We will hear from headline speakers at major national titles, as well as freelancers and those who have recently made the jump from university to full-time journalism about how they did it. Keep an eye on our Instagram and Twitter for speaker announcements coming soon.

    Bristol SU
    The SPA National Awards and Conference is back for another year! Fresh off of our most successful year yet at Glasgow in 2023, #SPANC24 is coming to Bristol from 12th - 14th April 2024 with…
    Fri, 12 Apr - 14 Apr
    confirmation_number Starting £50.00

    Our #SPANC24 speakers

    Check back as we reveal more of the industry professionals and experts joining us in Bristol in the coming weeks

    • Hugh Pym studied for a postgraduate diploma in radio journalism at Falmouth before working at the independent stations Wiltshire Radio and then Viking Radio in Hull. After freelancing at LBC he joined BBC Radio as a financial news reporter. He was a producer on the Channel 4 programme Business Daily before joining ITN as business correspondent. He then became ITN Scotland correspondent before a spell at Westminster as a political correspondent. Hugh freelanced with Sky News and rejoined the BBC in 2001. He was a BBC economics correspondent until 2008, when he took on the role of acting economics editor during the maternity leave of Stephanie Flanders covering the banking crisis. Following her return, he became the BBC's chief economics correspondent. In March 2014 he was appointed as the first health editor for BBC News. This has involved covering a range of health policy issues, most focussing on the work of the NHS. Hugh was the recipient of the 2020 British Journalism Review Charles Wheeler award in recognition of his coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.  
    • George Greenwood is investigations reporter at The Times. He specialises in the use of freedom of information requests and open data, and regularly covers lobbying, financial crime, relations between authoritarian states like Russia and China with the UK, and state failure. George started his career at BBC News, moving to The Times in 2018 as a data journalist and joining the Times investigations team in 2021. He wrote for Cherwell at Oxford and The Beaver whilst at The London School of Economics. 
    • Chris Stevenson is in his second stint as International Editor for The Independent. He started at the title in 2010 as a reporter, before working for The Independent on Sunday in the same role. In 2014 he was made Assistant Foreign Editor across The Independent, The Independent on Sunday and the i newspaper, before taking the job as International Editor for the first time in 2016. Having moved to New York, he ran the US office in New York from 2018 – before returning to the UK to become the editor of Voices. He was then Premium Editor before taking his current role.
      Chris Stevenson
      The Independent
    • James is Director of Healthcare Communications at consultancy firm Hanover. Prior to this James was Deputy Director of Communications for NHS England and also served as Head of Media for the NHS throughout the Covid pandemic. James ran the NHS England press office, handling crisis communications, delivering proactive campaigns including for the Covid vaccination programme and managing the daily Number 10 press conferences. Before this James was Head of Campaigns for national charity Citizens Advice and worked in Westminster after graduating from the University of Sheffield with a BA in Politics and MA in Political Communication.

      James Mole
      Hanover
    • Dan Falvey is Head of Digital News for GB News. He's overseen nearly 400% growth in the broadcaster's website over the last 12 months, with GBNews.com the fastest-growing national news website for nine months running. He started his career as a local broadcast journalist in Oxfordshire before moving to the Daily Express where he rose through the ranks to become Deputy Digital Political Editor, reporting from Westminster on some of the biggest political events in recent history including Brexit, the Covid pandemic and the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Dan was the 2017-18 Chair of the SPA, and Communications Officer between 2016-17.
    • Luke Jacobs is currently a digital editor at The Guardian, part of the team managing the website's UK, international and Europe editions. Previous to this he was chief sub-editor at Sky News, and a senior regional editor at Reach, having launched KentLive and devised the company's editorial diversity strategy at its London and the south east region. He was reporter and sports editor of the Route 66 student magazine at Brunel University before becoming a local news journalist in Surrey, London and Essex.
      Luke Jacobs
      The Guardian
    • Ava Santina Evans is political correspondent at PoliticsJOE, a digital-first news publisher aimed at 18-35s. Based in Westminster, she covers UK politics, trade unions and has been a member of the lobby since 2022. Before this, she was the lead producer of the James O’Brien programme on LBC Radio and a broadcast journalist with the BBC. She is a regular contributor on the BBC, Sky News, ITV’s Good Morning Britain and TalkTV.
    • Jamel is a journalist apprentice at PA Media covering stories around London and the UK. In this role Jamel has written exclusives on the war in Ukraine, the Turkish/Syrian earthquake, war in Gaza and the death of Sinead O’Connor. Jamel is particularly interested in covering human stories and social issues from major news headlines, and unique original stories for PA’s uplifting feed. In 2023, he was shortlisted for an award for News Journalism at the NCTJ Awards of Excellence. Jamel started his career by writing a blog about issues affecting the black British community. He then worked as an intern at TechRadar and also freelanced for Reach PLC.
      Jamel Smith
      PA Media
    • Emily Murray is Entertainment Editor at GamesRadar+, working alongside Total Film and SFX magazine. She is also a resident film critic at BBC 5Live and has been published in the likes of Yahoo to Digital Spy. Encouraged by her dad to write about movies, Emily started out with her own blog as a teenager, then going on to write for several student websites whilst studying including Leeds University's The Gryphon, Salford University's Quay News, and Kettle Magazine. You could also see her chatting about all things culture on student TV and radio channels - if there was an opportunity, she took it. This led to some work experience at UNILAD where she was then hired as a journalist - and from there she hasn't stopped.

      Emily Murray
      GamesRadar+
    • Joseph Harker is Senior Editor, Diversity, and Development at The Guardian. He is also co-lead of the Guardian's Legacies of Enslavement project – which examined the links between the Guardian's founder and transatlantic slavery, issued an apology, and drew up a £10m+ restorative justice action plan. He is a former Deputy Opinion Editor and for over 20 years he has run the Guardian's Positive Action Scheme, which offers enhanced work experience to aspiring journalists who are ethnic-minority or have a disability: many have gone on to have successful media careers. Before joining the Guardian, Joseph was Editor and Publisher of the weekly newspaper Black Briton, and prior to that he was Assistant Editor at The Voice. Joseph also sits on the board of the Society of Editors.
      Joseph Harker
      The Guardian
    • Emma joined The Times in autumn 2022 as a business reporter graduate trainee. During her time at the paper she has covered a range of stories across the length and breadth of the UK. They include reporting on sewage on Scotland's beaches, the rescue of Britain's loneliest sheep and how businesses in Northern Ireland have benefitted from the 'peace dividend'. Emma previously worked in Dublin at The Irish Examiner as a business reporter. She was a Google News Fellow in 2021 where she interned and freelanced at TheJournal.ie. She first got involved in student journalism while studying at university in Dublin. She is originally from Co Derry.
      Emma Taggart
      The Times
    • Max Kendix joined The Times as a trainee news reporter in September 2022, and completed his part-time NCTJ Diploma with News Associates in Twickenham in August 2023. He has written for the news, business, world, obituaries and Scotland sections at The Times. He graduated from Durham University in 2022, where he read philosophy, politics and economics and edited the student newspaper, Palatinate.
      Max Kendix
      The Times
    • Lucy Dunn is The Spectator’s diary reporter, working in the magazine’s politics team. She has covered Scottish politics extensively over the last year, including the SNP leadership race, the Rutherglen by-election and party conferences as well as gossip in and around Holyrood and Westminster. She is also a qualified doctor and frequently writes on junior doctors’ working conditions in the NHS. Lucy is a firm advocate of student journalism and edited Glasgow University’s student paper The Glasgow Guardian in her final year.
      Lucy Dunn
      The Spectator
    • Ed Campbell is a journalist who makes YouTube videos and mini-documentaries for PoliticsJOE. His work focuses on the politics away from Westminster and has seen him report on everything from XL bully protests to an award ceremony for British porn stars, achieving millions of views in the process. He also co-hosts the PoliticsJOE Podcast.
      Ed Campbell
      PoliticsJOE
    • Will was a latecomer to journalism completing his NCTJ and masters at Cardiff Uni aged 27 in 2015. He has since worked at WalesOnline (Wales' biggest news provider) starting as a trainee and is now Welsh Affairs Editor. Will made his name for a series of features he did on poverty in Wales as well as highlighting violence against women. He now conducts much of WalesOnline's political and investigative pieces as well as writing the paid-for (imaginatively named) Will Hayward Newsletter.  Will has also written two books and won 14 awards for journalism. He spends his spare time playing a sport called korfball and looking after his pet tortoise.
      Will Hayward
      WalesOnline
    • Megan Wallace (they/them) is the Editorial Director of GAY TIMES, focussing on the UK and Europe and overseeing the Editorial and Social teams. They have formerly held editor positions at ITV’s Woo, Cosmopolitan UK and Rankin/HUNGER and have been an Associate Lecturer at London College of Communication since 2020. An award-winning journalist, they have written for outlets such as The Guardian, We Present, British Vogue, Elle UK, CNN, Crack, Vice, Stylist, Time Out and The Face and have interviewed the likes of Julia Fox, Emma Mackey, Harry Kane, Joy Crookes and Bree Runway. As a creative strategist, content writer and copywriter, they have worked with brands such as Feeld, Durex, New Balance, Badoo, EllaOne, Royal London and VMO2. They are signed with AM Heath, where they are working on an autofiction project exploring queer identity.
      Megan Wallace
      GAY TIMES
    • Vicky is a freelance journalist, writer and editor. She previously worked for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) where she reported on health inequalities, disability, housing and precarious work. She began her career in local and regional news in Birmingham before landing a position at the Daily Gazette in Essex. After a secondment with the BBC’s Shared Data Unit, she returned to Newsquest where she co-led its first data investigations unit. You can also read Vicky’s online work at Black Ballad, gal-dem, Melan magazine and Business Insider, and find her somewhere teaching workshops or mentoring.
    • Megan Harwood-Baynes is a journalist at Sky News, currently on secondment with the data and forensics team, working on digital investigations. Before this, she specialised in social affairs, health, and the cost of living crisis. Her time at Sky News has included covering a number of high profile court cases, including Wagatha Christie, and being one of the few reporters inside Courtroom 7 at the trial of serial-killer Lucy Letby. She trained in local news on the Isle of Wight and also worked on the social team at the Press Association.
    • Jason Evans is the Director of Factor 8, the UK's leading infected blood scandal campaign organisation. He is renowned for his investigative journalism that helped to expose the infected blood scandal. Losing his father to HIV & Hepatitis C infected blood products at a young age, Jason's loss propelled him into a quest for truth and justice, leading to legal action against the government and the initiation of a public inquiry in 2017. His journalistic endeavours have featured across the UK's national newspapers and have been covered by every national broadcaster. His work underpinned the International Emmy Award-winning ITV documentary 'In Cold Blood'. After years of evidence exposés in the press, he presented a compensation framework proposal to the government for victims of the infected blood scandal. This led to £450m in interim payments during 2022, and a full compensation scheme is now on the horizon.
      Jason Evans
      Factor 8
    • In 1992 Lyn and her late husband were bored on a flight to South America and so schemed out their ideal travel magazine on the back of a sickbag. The idea stuck and, in 1993, they launched Wanderlust magazine from their bedroom. Today, it is the number one travel magazine in the UK Lyn is still with the business as Founding Editor, has won multiple awards for her travel writing and is author of Wanderlust How to Travel Solo. Lyn's travels usually involve wildlife, wilderness and wine. She strongly believes in tourism as a force for good, benefiting local communities and the natural world.
      Lyn Hughes
      Wanderlust
    • Martin is a proud alumnus of Palatinate, the student newspaper at the University of Durham, where he honed his skills as a budding journalist. Subsequently he worked as a reporter for Watford Observer and then as a Senior Reporter for Bristol Evening Post. Over the years he has accumulated an array of bylines for publications such as The Mirror, The Times, Metro and Yorkshire Live. He has been the Editor-In-Chief at Bristol24/7 since its inception some ten years ago. He has also written the unofficial guide to Bristol, 111 Places In Bristol That You Shouldn’t Miss. Martin covers a vast range of topics that has a local interest from Breaking News to Sports and is looking forward to sharing his vast experience in local journalism at #SPANC24. In his leisure time, he enjoys cycling and following the fortunes of Bristol Bears and Watford F.C.
      Martin Booth
      Bristol 24/7
    • Hayley Clarke is a journalist at BBC News, currently on the advanced apprenticeship scheme. She specialises in education and social affairs reporting, with her reports on period poverty, abortion laws and ADHD in women and girls earning widespread recognition. A former primary school teacher, Hayley strives to amplify diverse and underserved young voices in her journalism. Before the BBC, her work was published in The i, HuffPost and Glamour. Hayley studied politics at the University of Nottingham. After five years of teaching, she re-trained at PA and worked in local news. She is currently working at Panorama.
    • Ross is an award-winning freelance travel, food and wine writer. He’s written for wide variety of titles, including the BBC, National Geographic Traveller, The Sunday Times, The Independent, Evening Standard, and Lonely Planet. Travel-wise, he specialises in Spain – particularly the Canary Islands – and Wales, but has travelled the globe from Tasmania to Tokyo, California to Copenhagen and written about many more destinations. Ross has previously been an editor for British Airways and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. He’s currently a lecturer on the MA Magazine Journalism course at Cardiff University.
      Ross Clarke
      Freelance Travel Writer
    • Shafik Meghji is an award-winning journalist, travel writer and author specialising in Latin America and South Asia. After starting his career as the sports editor of the University of Warwick’s student newspaper, he studied newspaper journalism at City University and then worked as a reporter for the Evening Standard, before focusing on travel. The co-author of more than 45 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and DK Eyewitness, Shafik writes for publications such as BBC Travel, National Geographic Traveller and Wanderlust. His debut book, Crossed Off the Map: Travels in Bolivia, was shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Book of the Year 2023.
      Shafik Meghji
      Travel Writer and Author
    • Jim served as the station manager of the university radio station, Livewire, at UEA in Norwich. After graduating, he wrote for a number of business magazines while he studied journalism part-time at City University. After a spell working for the business TV channel CNBC as a producer, he joined the BBC and has worked as a producer and then a reporter for the Today Programme, 5Live, Newsbeat, Newsnight and the Victoria Derbyshire programme. In 2020 he was seconded to the BBC’s national health unit to help work on the Covid pandemic and is now a permanent reporter on the health desk.

    • Hannah is newsletter editor at The Spectator, in charge of the magazine’s 12 editorial newsletters – including two daily politics and current affairs briefings. She is also the acting arts production editor, designing and editing the arts pages of the magazine for print each week, as well as working as a sub-editor on the rest of the magazine. She previously worked as a sub-editor at the Daily Mail.

      Hannah Tomes
      The Spectator
    • Josh Barrie is a food and drink writer based in London. He writes for numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Evening Standard, the New European, and i. He occasionally appears on BBC radio to discuss Michelin-starred restaurants or the complexities of tiramisu, and he might also be found on a travel assignment, from Mevagissey to Miami. 

      Josh Barrie
      Freelance
    • Colin Drury spent almost five years as a freelance journalist with his work appearing in The Guardian, The Times, The I, The Daily Mirror, Buzzfeed News, Women’s Own and LadBible. Among his reporting were in-depth pieces about Covid-19 for Vice, a long read on the UK’s first climate refugees for The Independent, and - for The Observer - a 2,000 word feature on why more British men are having penis surgical enlargements.

      Before becoming a freelancer, he worked for the Halifax Evening Courier and the Sheffield Star. He later became North of England Correspondent at The Independent. Today he teaches journalism at the University of Lincoln.

      His first ever published piece was for his student newspaper: a review of a band called Hefner. He still winces when he remembers he compared them to The Beatles.

      Colin Drury
      Freelance & Lecturer
    • Steph Spyro is the Environment Editor and Senior Political Correspondent at the Daily Express. She covers the climate and biodiversity news in the UK and around the world. Steph won the environmental reporting award at MHP Mischief’s 30 to Watch Awards in 2022. She was also nominated for best online video at the British Journalism Awards for her investigation into whaling in the Faroe Islands. Based in the heart of Westminster, she also champions women’s issues. Steph moved across the world from her hometown of Johannesburg to study Journalism and Media & Communication at Kingston University in London, where she was editor of The River. When she’s not chasing a story, she can be found meandering the paths of her local nature spots or making a splash in the pool.
      Steph Spyro
      Daily Express
    • Jack is a senior reporter covering local stories for The Bolton News in Greater Manchester. 

      He was the editor of HUB Magazine at UWE Bristol and went on to complete an internship at Bristol24/7, before gaining his NCTJ qualification in Manchester, where he became a Meta Community Reporter at The Oldham Times.

      Jack has bylines in The Guardian, the Manchester Mill, and the Mirror, among others. His favourite stories to cover involve active travel, LGBT+ issues, and the environment. He also loves to make a TikTok for his stories.

      In his spare time, Jack enjoys cycling on canals and in the Peak District, as well as Tweeting every inane thought that comes into his head.

      Jack has been shortlisted for two NCTJ Awards for Excellence for his coverage, in Data Journalism and Community Journalism.

      Jack Fifield
      The Bolton News

    Questions?

    Where will #SPANC24 be held?
    All our events this year will be held at Bristol SU (Richmond Building, 105 Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1LN), keeping everyone together in one easy-to-navigate site.
    Is the site accessible?
    Yes! We’re working closely with Bristol SU to make sure this is the case both for the day time events and our awards. We will also ensure there is a quiet room for anyone who needs to use it. Please flag any specific requirements or questions to us as you book your ticket so we can make sure everyone can enjoy #SPANC24.
    When should I get there?
    Arrive any time from 3pm on Friday, goodbyes on Sunday afternoon.
    Where will I be staying?
    If you buy an accommodated ticket, you’ll be staying in a twin room in either the Premier Inn Bristol City Centre (Haymarket) or the Premier Inn Bristol City Centre (Lewins Mead). You’ll be sharing a twin room with one other person, and we’ll always try and ensure that person is someone from the same publication as you. If you’ve already found someone to share with, both attendees must indicate this when booking their ticket. If you book a conference and events only ticket it is up to you where you stay and you are responsible for finding your own accommodation.
    What food do I get?
    Your ticket gets you dinner on Friday night, breakfast (accommodated tickets only) and lunch on Saturday and Sunday, plus your three-course meal at the awards on Saturday night.
    Do you offer any help with costs?
    We know how stretched student budgets are, which is why we offer tickets at a subsidised price thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. If cost is a barrier to you being able to attend our event and you are from a group underrepresented in journalism please keep an eye out for our Financial Assistance Scheme, with more details due on our social media and website shortly.
    Will my university or SU help cover costs?
    Maybe, and we strongly recommend it because going to SPANC is an investment in the future of your paper. We’ve previously lobbied for this on behalf of our members and we’re more than happy to write to your university or SU to tell them why they should help fund your tickets. Email richard@spajournalism.com for more information.
    Do you offer refunds?
    Please be mindful before you buy a ticket that we cannot offer refunds unless in exceptional circumstances. The SPA sells all tickets at cost and has to order meals, tickets and hotel rooms in advance, based on ticket sales.
    Does SPANC have an age limit?
    Yes, although the SPA grants membership to under 18s, only those aged over 18 are permitted to attend our physical events, including SPANC.
    Can I watch the awards online?
    We’ll be gutted if you can’t make it but yes, our awards will be live-streamed.
    What if I have more questions?
    Email events@spajournalism.com or geri@spajournalism.com.
    How do I get to Bristol?
    Bristol is one of the most easily accessible cities in the UK, with excellent rail, bus and coach, road, and air links.

    If you're getting the train, Bristol Temple Meads railway station runs direct services from London, Scotland, Wales, Manchester and Birmingham.

    Bristol Parkway is located to the north of the city. Services run from Birmingham, Cardiff, Gloucester and London.

    A number of national and regional coach services run to Bristol from across the country including Megabus, National Express and Falcon.

    Bristol is ideally situated for road access from London as well as from the north and east of England and South Wales, it being situated at the intersection of the M4 and M5 motorways. Parking is not included with any of our accommodation options but is available for an extra charge if arranged directly with the hotel.

    Bristol operates a Clean Air Zone. Most vehicles will not be charged, but it is your responsibility to check and pay any charges.

    If you're coming from further afield, flights to Bristol Airport are available from Aberdeen, Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, and Newcastle.

    With kind thanks to our headline sponsor...

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    National Awards

     

    Entries are now closed for this year's national awards, with the shortlists set to be announced very soon.

    This year's awards have attracted more than 1,200 entries - and set a brand new record for the SPA once again (and more than some of the best-known awards in the industry!).

    Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to enter, and the shortlisting will now begin. Once those shortlists have been drawn up (keep an eye on our socials for news), our judges will have the even tougher task of picking our national award winners for 2024. Then it's celebration time, with our glitzy awards night on 13th April as part of #SPANC24 in Bristol - so get that ticket booked and your outfit picked!

    Our winners have gone on to score excellent jobs across the industry and beyond, including at The Times, Sky News, the Press Association, and the BBC.

    Any questions? Email admin@spajournalism.com

    Past winners

    Excited for what's ahead? Take a look at who has won in our last 11 years.