UNIfied wins ‘Best Publication’ at national student media awards

Unified took home three huge wins at the SPA awards 2019 including the biggest award of the night, ‘Best Publication’. 

The Student Publication Association (SPA) recognises and awards the best student journalism in the country.

SPA hosted its annual conference in York this year where it saw students from the University of Oxford to the University of Durham competing to win the highly sought-after awards.

Unified was shortlisted for five major awards: Best Publication, Best News Story (Claisse Opulencia), Best Reporter (Tom Schwartz), Best Sports Coverage and Best Human Rights Journalist (Claisse Opulencia).

Out of the five nominations, Unified took home THREE of the biggest awards of the night and ‘highly commended’ for our Sports Coverage.


UNIfied scooped ‘Best Publication’ which stood as the biggest award at the SPA Awards.

The judges of the award said: “This publication broke stories and built original content. They found local news directly relevant to their local readers without combing over the same old ground.

“The way they held the university to account was commendable and commissions from those of the heart of the story were powerful, often sad but memorable journalism.”

Unified was up against students from the University of Oxford, University of Sheffield and even the University of Kent.


Meanwhile, Unified’s News Editor, Tom Schwartz was awarded ‘Best Reporter’ which is another highly sought-after award.

The award recognises student journalists who have a talent for spotting and writing news.

The judges said that Tom will have ‘stellar career in journalism’ awaiting him.

Unified’s News Editor Tom Schwartz


Unified’s Editor-in-Chief, Claisse Opulencia took home the ‘Best News Story’ award for her undercover investigation into Canterbury landlords offering students free rent for sex.

In the same week, Claisse won the prestigious Amnesty International Media Award for the same story.

Unified’s Editor-in-Chief at Amnesty International Media Awards and SPA Awards 2019

She’s ecstatic that her hard work editing Unified to become the best student newspaper has been recognised by so many.

Claisse said: “Running UNIfied has been one of the toughest things I’ve ever taken on. I’d say even tougher than my journalism degree.

“The moment they called out ‘UNIFIED’ for the winner of ‘Best Publication’, it reminded me that hard work and commitment will never go unnoticed.

“UNIfied has been my life for the past year, and I am extremely proud to leave it on such a high note: the best student publication in the country for 2019.”

LEFT TO RIGHT: News editor Tom Schwartz, Features Editors Maddy Goacher and Rebecca Sheeres, Editor-in-Chief Claisse Opulencia and Sports Editor Johnny Amos.
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Claisse Opulencia

Editor-in-Chief of Unified. Claisse is a third year multimedia journalism student at CCCU. Amnesty Media Award Finalist 2018, IRN Awards Runner-up 2018 and nominated for two SPA Awards 2018.

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