By Milan Perera and Ella Woszczyk, Deputy Editors
The University of Bristol has been announced as the host of the prestigious SPA National Conference in the spring of 2024. SPANC will take place between April 12th to 14th next year.
The prestigious three-day event, known for recognising the outstandig contributions of student journalism, promises to showcase the best and brightest in student journalism.
The highlight of the conference is the awards night, which is scheduled for Saturday, April 13th at the Anson Rooms in the Richmond Building.
The evening will be dedicated to acknowledging the outstanding achievements and contributions of budding journalists from universities across the nation. The celebration aims to applaud excellence, innovation, and dedication exhibited under multiple categories.
The successful bid from the University of Bristol was led by the team from Epigram and The Croft, and supported by The Bristorian, That's What She Said and La Civetta. This decision also marks the return of SPANC to the South of England after 2015, when it was held at the University of Southampton.
The event is expected to welcome over 200 student journalists from across the country, representing around 175 universities.
The University of Bristol, renowned for its academic excellence and vibrant student community, is primed to provide the ideal backdrop for this grand occasion. During the bidding process there were several endorsements for the University of Bristol from publications and high-profile local figures.
On endorsing the University of Bristol, Thangam Debbonaire (MP for Bristol West) stated: ‘Bristol is a key cultural hub in the United Kingdom and student journalism at the University of Bristol is a reflection of that. During my tenure as MP, I have had the pleasure of seeing the impact and potential of student journalism through meeting and being interviewed by students in Epigram, the University of Bristol’s newspaper.’
Also endorsing University of Bristol’s bid was the elected-Mayor Marvin Rees who said: ‘Hosting a conference of this magnitude in Bristol aligns with city’s vibrant culture, with an emphasis on innovation, inclusive skills and employment, and a thriving media and creative sector […] I believe Bristol’s diverse creative talent makes it the perfect location to host the conference.’
Moreover, the conference is not limited to the glitz and glamour of the awards ceremony alone. The three-day affair encompasses a series of panel events spread across various venues within the university premises.
The 30 panel discussions are set to delve into various branches of journalism, covering a diverse array of topics, ranging from investigative reporting and multimedia storytelling to podcasting and the evolving landscape of digital journalism.
Participants will have the invaluable opportunity to engage with seasoned professionals, esteemed academics, and industry experts who will share their insights and expertise in navigating the ever-evolving landscape of journalism. Such interactive sessions promise to be informative for aspiring journalists, providing a platform for learning and networking, as well as fostering a deeper understanding of the craft.
At the SPA Awards earlier this year, Epigram was nominated for 10 awards across seven different sections including; Best Interview, Best Science Publication or Section, Best Science and Tech Piece, Rising Star, Best Website, Best Project or Initiative and the Billy Dowling-Reid Award for Outstanding Commitment. The Sport Section won a ‘Special Mention’ while the 2022/23 Creative Director at Epigram, Freya Shaw, won the prestigious Billy Dowling-Reid Prize for Outstanding Commitment.
Additionally, University of Bristol Italian magazine La Civetta won the ‘Highly Commended’ award for Best Specialist Publication at the awards.
As the conference approaches, anticipation mounts, and preparations are already underway. The upcoming SPA awards are poised to be a momentous occasion, and with a line-up of engaging panel discussions and the much-anticipated awards night, the event promises to be a beacon illuminating the path for the next generation of journalists and multimedia trailblazers.
Featured image courtesy of the SPA
What are your thoughts on Bristol hosting SPANC24?