The Sunday Mercury has been named Newspaper of the Year at the fifth annual Midlands Media Awards.
The Birmingham title beat The Sentinel to the top accolade after the Stoke-on-Trent title lifted the award for the past four years.
Last night’s awards ceremony was organised by the Birmingham Press Club and held at the city’s Baskerville House.
Andrew Pierce, chairman of the judges and Daily Telegraph assistant editor, said: “It was going to have to be a very good newspaper to stop Stoke – and that’s what the Mercury is.
“It’s a model Sunday newspaper, with consistently good stories right from its front page exclusives to its entertaining mix of all-round coverage.”
The category’s runners-up were the Mercury’s sister titles the Coventry Telegraph and the Birmingham Mail.
Amy Harris, from The Hinckley Times, took scoop of the year and was runner-up in Newcomer of the Year.
Her award-winning entry focused on an unusual tale about a local man who, upon collecting his mail from the postman outside his house, elected to dispense with some junk mail in a nearby litter bin.
However, he was soon tracked down by a petty bureaucrat from the local council who decided his ‘crime’ was so serious that it warranted draconian action in the form of a fine.
The Press Club said it took Scoop of the Year because it was picked up by not only the UK national press but media organisations around the world.
Andrew said: “All reporters dream that their story is going to make headlines around the world – few actually do so, but certainly the dream came true for Amy.
“What a fabulous start to her career in journalism.”
John Lamb, chairman of the Birmingham Press Club, said: “Yet again the awards have demonstrated the huge range of talent out there in the Midlands media industry.
“It’s particularly encouraging to see Scoop of the Year going to a reporter just setting out on her career at one of the region’s small publications.
“That is surely as good an indicator as any of the quality of the talent that is continuing to emerge from our region.
“And of course, I can’t let the opportunity pass without saying congratulations to the Sunday Mercury for finally bringing to an end the glorious reign of the Sentinel Group as our newspaper of the year winners.
“It’s nice to be able to talk about someone else winning this prestigious title.
“The awards evening was once again a sell out and we hope this continues next year when the event moves, by popular demand, to its new slot during summer.”
Other winners were:
News Reporter of the Year (daily) – Ben Hurst, Birmingham Mail
News Reporter of the Year (weekly) – Richard Botley, North Shropshire Chronicle
Feature Writer of the Year. – Lorne Jackson, Sunday Mercury
Sports journalist of the year – Bill Howell, Villa reporter at the Birmingham Mail
Business Journalist of the Year – Jon Griffin, Birmingham Mail
Newcomer of the Year – Richard Ashmore, Coventry Times
Magazine of the Year – Shropshire Magazine
Headline of the Year – John McLaren, Birmingham Mail, for ‘More Tee Vicar’ for a story related to a golf-loving member of the clergy.
News photographer of the year – Matthew Alexander, Nottingham Evening Post
Sports photographer of the Year – Dale Martin, Birmingham Post and Mail
Trevor Roberts Award for Best Photographic Newcomer – Alex Hannam, Leicester Mercury