Anna Whittaker, the winner of the NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) Top Scoop Award and proud journalist, is a passionate advocate for local news. Now a journalist at The Derby Telegraph, Anna pursued her writing talents and interests from when she was young to this day. With her own father being a journalist, it seems that journalistic talent runs in the family.
With the influences of her father growing up, Anna couldn’t see herself doing anything else, so pursuing journalism is what fuelled her choice to study journalism at University in Sheffield. Born and raised in Derby, meant that she has developed a network in the Midlands and began her journey with work experience at the Burton Mail.
With exposure to how a newsroom works and operates, Anna pursued the connections that she built with her work experience in order to keep her foot in the door. From covering different aspects of journalism to getting her first byline in print, Anna sought enjoyment in her time working for a newspaper. She brought this forward to her time studying at University and wrote freelance for her local paper back home, The Derby Telegraph. She found that her newsroom experience gave her the confidence to chase leads and leg up in comparison to those who hadn’t seen the live workings of a newspaper. By the time she graduated Anna was freelancing for The Derby Telegraph for “three days a week, despite technically living in Sheffield”.
Her pieces at the The Derby Telegraph is what propelled her to be considered for prestigious nationwide awards. From winning the NCTJ Top Scoop Award in 2017 to 30 to Watch Young Journalist Award in July 2020, Anna is a pure example of how local news can compete with the national papers.
Although Anna was a great example of a go getter journalist, she is very much still in a discovery mode. Her intrigue into investigative journalism is the report that got her noticed for her 30 to Watch Award. By investigating an illegal tooth whitening business, Anna dipped her toes in this world and is something she wants to consider more of in the future. Following her graduation, the contacts she had built within The Derby Telegraph urged her to apply for a reporter role and to her own surprise she got the job. The acceptance of this role has provided Anna with platforms that she thought she would have to wait for.
“It was a natural progression”
Anna revealed that work experience is key for young inspiring journalists. As her career was launched because of her networking and hard work during her work experience, she attributes her success to this. I for one am looking forward to seeing what Anna’s future holds.