Revealed: the covers stars in the DMU Journalism magazine prize

Magazine covers by DMU Journalism students

An “impeccable” magazine cover that dares to be different is the winner of a coveted annual prize for Journalism students at De Montfort University in Leicester.   

The fresh, intriguing Offbeat – created by DMU students Nick Gascoyne, Darnell James-Percival and John Perry – claimed the 2023 cover prize with a professional-looking front that chimes perfectly with the title’s unconventional mindset.   

Offbeat, the winner of the 2023 DMU Journalism cover prize
On point: Offbeat, the winner of the 2023 DMU Journalism magazine cover prize

It was chosen by guest judge Kate Williams, the editor of bestselling real-life magazine, Chat, who said Offbeat was a “worthy winner from an excellent shortlist.”

Kate said: “A former boss of mine taught me that the job of a magazine cover is to act as its shop window, offering a teasing glimpse of what the reader can find within, while holding enough back to make them want to take it home to find out.” Offbeat ticked the boxes, she said.

“The plentiful and tantalising cover lines aside, from its clever name, distinctive logo, and bold anti-commercial image choice to its use of font, colour and even kerning, all elements work together to communicate quality – and the magazine’s vibe – impeccably, all while leaving me wanting to see what’s inside its pages,” she said.

“Creative and left-field while remaining highly disciplined, this professional cover impressed me greatly. For a cover to be artistically sparse while managing to tell its reader so much is no mean feat.”

The Offbeat team: (l-r) Darnell, Nick and John

Nick Gascoyne, editor-in-chief of Offbeat, said he felt honoured that the magazine was picked as the winner.

He said: “Wow. It is a proud moment for me, and I was not expecting to win against the other stunning covers nominated for the prize.

“When designing our magazine cover, I wanted it to capture the spirit of Offbeat by looking weird and obscure, just like our stories. I felt the limited colours, unusual layout and enigmatic design helped to convey this to any potential reader. It was great fun designing it and I’m glad Kate Williams enjoyed it.

“This was my final (and biggest) journalism assignment at De Montfort University, and it wouldn’t have been possible to get it over the finish line without the tools, feedback and confidence I’ve gained during this three-year journey on the course.”

Third-year students on the BA Journalism course at DMU create digital and print magazines as part of their final assessment. The magazines showcase all the practical journalism skills they have learned from their years of study on the course. Each year, the best covers go head-to-head in a contest. The other magazines shortlisted for the prize were Final Whistle, Urbn and Real.

Front runners: the 2023 cover prize shortlist

Kate said she was impressed by the quality of all the covers in the running for this year’s prize.  

“It was a worthy winner out of an excellent shortlist, all of which had elements which I truly admired. I enjoyed Real’s zeitgeist-y cover stories, particularly ‘ADHD AF’ for its on-the-pulse feel. Final Whistle’s use of a close-up on its cover star was a clever hint at a revealing and intimate interview inside. And the use of neon yellow on URBN’s black cover gives great, eye-catching newsstand appeal.

“Well done to all the teams,” she added, “and good luck with what you do next!”

Making a splash: the winners of the DMU Journalism cover prize down the years

Brian Dodds, programme leader of the Journalism course at DMU, said: “We’re really proud of the quality of the work produced by our students, and it’s always a pleasure to see which entries have been shortlisted for the annual cover prize. I’d like to send my compliments to all the teams who were in the running for this year’s contest – and huge congratulations to Offbeat. As Kate says, it’s a great cover and a worthy winner.”  

The Offbeat team will share a £200 prize.

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