Young Grenfell Activist Wins National ITV News’ ‘Breaking Into News’ Competition

A young Grenfell activist from West London has been hailed as a future star of TV news.

Hadeel Elshak, a sixth form student and social justice activist from Hammersmith, initially beat hundreds of entries to be named one of ten regional finalists. Under the professional mentorship of Katie Oakes for ITV News London, Hadeel produced a powerful yet sensitive news report on the handling of Grenfell fire and its effect on the engagement of young people in politics.

In an award ceremony held at ITV studios in London Hadeel was crowned winner of Breaking into News, an initiative that addresses the need for improved representation of diverse audiences across the industry.

In spite of no previous experience of TV news or journalism and stiff competition from nine regional finalists from ITV regions across the UK, Hadeel’s news report, which explores youth engagement in politics post-Grenfell, won praise from a highly esteemed panel of judges including Roohi Hasan, Senior News Producer at ITV News, Kate Watkins, Head of TV News Training at Leeds University, Margaret Emsley, Head of News at ITV Calendar and Jasmine Dotiwala, Head of Youth Media at Media Trust.

Hadeel, who works part-time with Solidarity Sports, a charity organisation attended by two young victims of the Grenfell fire, said of her report:

“Some inspiration for my choice of news report stemmed from Firdaws Hashim who sadly passed away in the Grenfell tower fire with her family Yahya, Yaqbub, Noura and Hashim.  I feel as though I have a duty to use this platform that Media Trust has given me, to report on a story that is bigger than all of us and show the potential that children like Firdaws have for the future of politics.”

Commenting on her win, Hadeel added:

“I’m incredibly grateful to my mentor, the judges and those who have worked behind the scenes to give me access to this amazing opportunity. I’ve also been lucky to be in the company of such talented finalists and I’m confident that this is only the beginning for all of us.”

Driven by her passion for social justice and diverse representation within journalism, Hadeel will now have an opportunity to work with the team responsible for producing ITV’s national news bulletins before embarking on a degree in International Development at the University of Sussex in September.

As the overall winner of the competition, Hadeel’s report will be broadcast on ITV and she will also receive £400 worth of journalistic equipment.

Jasmine Dotiwala, Head of Youth Media at Media Trust, said:

 ”If a news team is going to tell fair, respectful, factually correct stories about the communities they serve, it is vital that our newsrooms reflect the society that they’re reporting about, and to. Not only does Breaking into News provide a valuable injection of diverse new talent into the industry but it also offers invaluable, hands-on experience, to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to report on the stories that affect communities across the country. We are so proud of all of this year’s Breaking into News finalists and we can’t wait to see what they go on to achieve.‘’

Steven Portman, a volunteer radio host at Bedford hospital, was named runner-up for his TV news report on the lack of job opportunities faced by disabled people produced with the support of his mentor Russell Hookey at ITV Anglia.

Now in its seventh year, Breaking into News continues to provide people from all backgrounds, regardless of experience, the opportunity to gain invaluable experience of life in front and behind the news camera. Previous finalists have secured production and broadcasting roles across ITV news regions. Entries for 2019 will open in Spring.

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