The Liverpool Echo was praised for its “fierce loyalty to its readers” as it was named the North West’s top daily newspaper last night.
The Trinity Mirror title won the big prize at the annual 02 Media Awards for the region, overcoming competition from the Bolton News, Blackpool Gazette and Carlisle News & Star.
Echo journalists Paddy Shennan and Dan Kay were also named Feature Writer of the Year and Multi Media Journalist of the Year respectively as the paper collected a hat-trick of trophies.
Hillsborough family victims spokesman Trevor Hicks, who lost two daughters in the 1989 football tragedy, presented editor Alistair Machray, pictured left, with the award.
The judges citation said: “The Echo is one of those newspapers that stirs the emotions…it makes you smile, want to shout out in anger and then maybe have a good cry.
“The paper had faced a year of big stories, culminating in the revelations surrounding the Hillsborough tragedy. It handled every story brilliantly with great professionalism and style.”
The weekly newspaper of the year prize also went to a Trinity Mirror title in the shape of the Crewe Chronicle which triumped over three-times past winner the Cumberland News.
Bill Roache, who plays one-time fictional local press editor Ken Barlow in Coronation Street, presented the award.
There were two wins for the Manchester Evening News, with Neal Keeling crowned News Reporter of the Year and the paper’s Business Week publication named Specialist Publication of the Year.
Neal, who is currently undergoing cancer treatment, was presented with his award by a 74-year-old knife attack victim who had featured in one of his stories.
Nicola Green, head of Communications and Reputation for O2 UK, said: “The standard of entries this year was phenomenal. Every year interest in the O2 Awards grows which made the judging process even more difficult.
“The quality and breadth of submissions was exciting and encouraging for the future and we were delighted to introduce a further three new awards this year which reflect the developments taking place in the media industry and to recognise the new talent coming through.”
The full list of winners was as follows:
Business Journalist of the Year: Chris Maguire – North West Business Insider
Multi Media Journalist of the Year: Dan Kay – Liverpool Echo
Young Journalist of the Year: Will Metcalfe – North West Evening Mail
Feature Writer of the Year: Paddy Shennan – Liverpool Echo
News Reporter of the Year: Neal Keeling – Manchester Evening News
Photographer of the Year: Jon Granger – North West Evening Mail
Radio Broadcast Journalist of the Year: Katie Collins – Real Radio
Scoop of the Year: Lancashire Evening Post – Cage Fighting Kids
Specialist Publication of the Year: Business Week – Manchester Evening News
Sports Journalist of the Year: Chris Hall – ITV Granada
TV Broadcast Journalist of the Year: Matt O’Donoghue – ITV Granada
Editorial Team of the Year: Real Radio
Daily Newspaper of the Year: Liverpool Echo
Weekly Newspaper of the Year: Crewe Chronicle
Free Newspaper of the Year: Champion Newspapers
Outstanding Contribution: John Pickford – Bauer Radio
Emerging Talent Award: Henna Saeed – Manchester Metropolitan University