One of our talented reporters Jessie Mathewson has been named Young Journalist of the Year.

Jessie, a reporter covering news to do with London City Hall, Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL), has been recognised for her work by the Society of Editors at the Regional Press Awards 2020.

Jessie joined our team in June last year with little experience in journalism and in less than a year, she was already producing exclusives and stories that offered readers new insights.

Her passion for politics has spurred her on as a BBC-funded Local Democracy Reporter, whose role is to hold the London authority to account.

Her coverage of bus drivers' fears as coronavirus claimed the lives of their colleagues was one of her most read pieces. She followed this up with a story about bus drivers' concerns as free travel was rolled out on London buses.

Times Series:

Jessie reported on bus drivers' fears as coronavirus claimed the lives of their colleagues

Another example of her work is when she revealed that "Boris Buses", the Routemaster model introduced by the Boris Johnson while he was Mayor, were costing TfL £3.6million a year in fare evasion. She reported on TfL's plans to prevent fare-dodging by introducing front-entry access only on all of these buses.The story was run by other London outlets, and when the switch to front-entry was confirmed in January, it was picked up by nationals.

She also revealed that a widely-covered incident of anti-semitic abuse on the Tube was not a one off, and there had been two other incidents on buses that week. In the context of a national conversation about rising anti-semitism, this was an important story for Londoners. By covering an under-reported meeting, Jessie revealed this development – which was later picked up by the BBC and run nationally.

Times Series:

As City Hall reporter, Jessie covers news to do with the London Assembly and Mayor Sadiq Khan. Photo: Caroline Teo

Jessie also demonstrated her ability to respond to breaking news when she was at London Bridge during the Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack. A contact phoned to say what was happening shortly before the story broke. Jessie ran straight towards the scene and spoke to people at the cordon, filmed, photographed, and gathered facts. Her reportage was used by more than 100 outlets across the country. Jessie says she believes all news reporters hope they will be ready to approach danger if required – and knowing that she has it in her, has strengthened her resolve.

Jessie said: "I’m so delighted to win this award. The shortlist was incredibly strong, and it just goes to show what amazing local journalism is happening right across the country.

"In the last year reporting on the Mayor of London and the London Assembly, I’ve tried to break stories that really matter to our readers. Local government can feel distant, and it often gets it wrong, which is why we need reporters holding politicians to account.

Times Series:

Jessie's day-to-day job is to cover meetings at City Hall

"To all our readers – I want to keep bringing you stories that are important. So please, tell me what’s impacting you, and where the light needs shining next. I can guarantee any one of our incredible team will do their best to follow up."

The judges for the Regional Press Awards 2020 said: "Jessie has broken stories at a local level that have national importance. Her entries display skill, ambition and tenacity – and suggest she is a real rising star.

"While some see local government as stultifying this entry shows that good stories are there for the finding – and can be shown to be matters which are of public interest and interesting to the public."

As well as winning Young Journalist of the Year, Jessie has also won Best Use of Social Media at the BBC Local Democracy Reporter awards.

Judge Miriam Phillips, journalism academic and NCTJ Lead at Bournemouth University said: “Jessie demonstrates what an important role social media has in breaking local democracy stories. I was particularly impressed by her Twitter strategy and use of hash tags and tagging.”