Natasha Da Silva, 22, won the ‘Journalist of the Year’ accolade at the Broadcast Journalism Training Council’s (BJTC) annual awards on Monday.
She also scooped the prize for ‘Best Documentary’ title for a radio feature she made on the after-effect of the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami in her home country of Sri Lanka.
Natasha, who graduated with first-class honours in her Journalism and Media degree this summer, interviewed survivors of the disaster to produce a radio package for her final year project.
The documentary tells the personal stories of those who survived the tsunami, exploring what life is like for families in the aftermath of the tragedy. Natasha herself was a 14-year-old living in the Sri Lankan city of Colombo when the tsunami struck, killing tens of thousands of people and devastating communities across Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India.
Natasha, who received her award from ITN news anchor Alistair Stewart, said:
“I was so surprised and I’m so happy to win. I always take every opportunity that comes my way, but when I applied I wasn’t expecting to get an award.
“It was a great experience producing my final year project, although it was tough because it was a very emotional subject. However with the help of my supervisors Marcos Young and Rachel Matthews I was able to produce a radio documentary that I’m extremely proud of.”
Marcos Young, senior lecturer in broadcast journalism at Coventry University and supervisor to Natasha’s project, said:
“I was very excited when Natasha first approached me with the proposal for this documentary, and I’m absolutely delighted to see that all hard work she put in has been rewarded.”
Rachel Matthews, principal lecturer in journalism at Coventry University, said:
“Natasha worked extremely hard on this project and was supported by a committed lecturer throughout. It’s a fantastic achievement. For one of our students to win this award less than 12 months after our course received its BJTC accreditation is a demonstration of the quality of work produced by students and staff. It is truly a team effort.”
Natasha’s award comes less than a year after the University’s Journalism and Media degree received professional accreditation from the BJTC, a partnership of 90 per cent of UK broadcasting employers which regulates and sets the benchmark for journalism courses.