FIPP & UPM Rising Stars in Media 2020 winners announced

For the first time in the six year history of the FIPP & UPM Rising Stars in Media Awards, the judging panel announced joint winners.

Both Rachel Brown of National Geographic and Esther Kezia Thorpe of Media Voices were announced as joint overall winners of the FIPP & UPM Rising Star Awards 2020. Brown was also announced winner in the Journalism category and Kezia Thorpe winner in the Business category.

The announcement was made today (Wednesday, 30 September), during one of the final online sessions of this year’s 43rd FIPP World Congress. FIPP President and CEO James Hewes said the judging panel were unanimous in their opinion that it was “just too close to call” between the two finalists whose entries were both exceptional. He welcomed both winners onto the FIPP Board.

The annual Awards, seeking the best and brightest new talent in the publishing industry, are a partnership between FIPP, one of the world’s largest media membership networks, and UPM Communication Papers, the world’s leading producer of graphic papers.

Young talent provides new insight

Ruud van den Berg, Senior Vice President, Magazines, Merchants & Office, UPM Communication Papers, said the Rising Stars Awards is an important opportunity for UPM to invest in future talent because there are many young people who appreciate and value the importance of paper products within the publishing industry. “By partnering with FIPP, UPM commits to the future of print and its effective coexistence with digital media. We also firmly believe young talent within our industry provides new insights and experiences we can all learn from. This enables the industry to grow and develop in these extraordinary times.”

This year saw the biggest shake-up in the format of the Awards, open for stars in publishing under the age of 30, since launch in 2015. The main Awards have been split into two categories for the first time:

  • Rising Stars – Business, in search of excellence and innovation from candidates involved in any aspect of the business of media, including sales, marketing, distribution and technology.
  • Rising Stars – Journalism, in search of new journalistic talent. Here candidates had to demonstrate innovation that has impacted their field of journalism.

2020 also saw the introduction of the Student category, building on FIPP’s increasing outreach into the academic community. The winner was Dark Mode Magazine, a student magazine from the University of Roehampton, launched in 2020, which focuses on the people and events that make up the London after-hours. The Company Awards was won by River Group.

Complete list of 2020 Rising Stars in Media


Winner and Joint Overall Winner of 2020 Rising Stars Awards:
Rachel Brown / National Geographic

Catherine Edwards / The Local Europe
Adama Munu / TRT World

Helen Clifford / ITN
Niamh Leonard-Bedwell / River Group

Winner and Joint Overall Winner of 2020 Rising Stars Awards:
Esther Kezia Thorpe / Media Voices

Selina Bitzer / Condé Nast Germany
Hiten Vara / Immediate Media

Emily Maitland / River Group
Nicholas O’Connor / AméricaEconomía

WINNER: Dark Mode Magazine
HIGHLY COMMENDED: University of Porto

River Group

Unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges

“This year’s Awards show, once again, the depth of new talent in our industry. The move to separate business and journalism categories has helped us to be more precise in our evaluation of the candidates and it’s only fitting that this year’s first-ever joint Overall Winners should include representatives from both categories,” said Hewes. “We’re delighted to welcome Esther and Rachel to the FIPP Board, where they will join last year’s winner Mbali Soga in providing us with their unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges our industry faces. A special word of congratulations also to our inaugural Student Award winners, from the University of Roehampton, and to River Group, for winning the Company Award for a record 3rd year in a row, the only company to have won this Award every year since it started.”

The judges were Ruud van den Berg, Senior Vice President of Magazines, Merchants & Office at UPM Communication Papers; Carlo Mandelli, General Manager of Magazines Italy at the Mondadori Group; Mbali Soga, Editor of True Love magazine in South Africa and winner of last year’s Rising Stars Award; Srinivasan Balasubramanian, Managing Director of the Vikatan Group in India; Yulia Petrossian Boyle, Senior Vice President for International Media Partnerships and Image Collection at National Geographic Partners; Damian Radcliffe, Chambers Professor in Journalism at the University of Oregon; and Lucy Kueng, Senior Research Fellow Reuters Institute at Oxford University.


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