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EDF Energy Awards: What the judges said

With more than 300 entries received for this year’s awards then judges faced a tough task in selecting the winners.

On the panel were Ian Mean, editor of the Western Daily Press, Sue Smith, editor of the Stroud Journal, Simon Angear, group editor for Archant’s Somerset newspapers, Kylie Pentelow, ITV News West Country presenter, Steve Leferve, BBC Bristol presenter, Marc Astley, editor of the Exeter Daily, Paul Linford, editor of HoldtheFrontPage, and Simon Galloway, Bristol News and Media picture editor.

Here’s what the judges said about each of the winners.

Newcomer of the Year: Sean-Paul Doran, Sevenoaks Chronicle

“Straight after Nigel Farage had made controversial remarks about Romanians on LBC radio, Sean-Paul calls his house and secures a half-hour interview for the next morning. It’s a far-ranging discussion, as the UKIP leader explains his comments made the day before, but also covering politics, day-time drinking and his caravan.”

Digital Journalist of the Year: Gareth Davies, Croydon Advertiser

“Data sourcing, detailed surveys, research and analysis, Freedom of Information requests, good use of interactive maps and guides all play their part in Gareth’s approach. His entry included an interactive map that visualised, for the first time, migration into Croydon from countries across the world.”

Specialist Journalist of the Year: Tara Russell, Southern Daily Echo

“Broke the incredible story of Alex Lewis’ survival against the odds, with an exclusive that made headlines across the world. It followed a chat with her dad, who mentioned he’d heard a village landlord had been forced to sell his pub due to a rare illness and led to a series of powerfully moving exclusives.”

Sports Journalist of the Year: Rags Martel, ITV News London

“Access is the key for any journalist, and Rags has that in spades. From visiting Mo Farah amidst the beauty of the Pyrennes, to travelling with Jose Mourinho to the Ivory Coast, his reports show another dimension to the sports stars featured. His features get behind the headlines, providing real added value to viewers.”

Columnist of the Year: Jordan Cross, The News, Portsmouth

“Jordan’s entry saw him tackling issues as diverse as the fate of the England football team in this summer’s World Cup, to Portsmouth FC’s off-field problems, to depression in football – a bit of a common theme there. What distinguished all three was not just Jordan’s love of the game but the quality of his writing.”

Feature Writer of the Year: Lesley Bellew, Kent Messenger Group

“A stunning piece of work from Lesley saw the Kent Messenger Group produce what might just be the definitive First World War supplement in this centenary year.  Details on museums, memorials and cemeteries are clearly products of exhaustive research combined with a flair for moving writing.”

Designer of the Year: Alex Leys, Croydon Advertiser

“A class act capable of regularly bringing pages to life. Good design and imagination combine to project challenging and complicated stories in a visually compelling and impactful way. A house of cards graphic boosts the story on the Tory rivals vying to become the new MP, giving it a big visual lift.”

News Photographer of the Year: Liz Finlayson, The Argus

“Liz plies her trade in a variety of settings. She’s there in the thick of fracking protests, she captures the moment of triumph when Brighton and Hove Albion’s Matthew Upson scores a vital winner at Middlesbrough, and without a press pass, still gets a great shot of the Queen on a visit to Newhaven.”

Radio Journalist of the Year: Michael Coombes, Wave 105

“An infectious and enthusiastic broadcaster, who clearly revels in bringing fresh, original stories to air. The cast-lists in his reports are expertly chosen – like the recovering anorexic, or the truants found ‘strolling the streets of Fareham’. The voices are of real people, and there are lots of them.”

Television Journalist of the year: Guy Lynn, BBC London News

“A great investigative journalist, gripping images combined with Guy’s tenacious approach help reveal the story behind the story. He exposes the real story about the world’s most exclusive coffee, travelling to Indonesia for the report. It leads to a shake up within the industry, and the product being pulled.”

Weekly Print Journalist of the Year: Gareth Davies Croydon Advertiser

“A reporter who really gets his teeth into stories, and clever at breaking down his work into smaller, readable and informative pieces. He spoke to a convicted murderer in jail boasting about drinking and taking drugs on Christmas Day and exposed the fraudster who tried to gag the newspaper with a harassment order.”

Daily Print Journalist of the Year: Claire French, The News, Portsmouth

“An old-style campaigning journalist who offers a focus on the kind of consumer stories that sell newspapers. She uses Facebook to find and build a story about a bogus repair-man stealing money and phones. She talks to victims and finds out how one stolen phone had photos of a mother’s deceased child on.”

Front Page of the Year: Southern Daily Echo, Never Lose Hope

“As we have seen in other categories, an incredibly moving story told by reporter Tara Russell, an image that initially shocks, but then draws you into a story of revelation and compassion.  It’s a true stand out, a bold approach that would definitely shift copies off the news-stands.”

Community Campaign of the Year: Battle Observer, Save Battle Fire Station

“Protest marches, petitions, posters, public meetings, council lobbying and heated debate were all aspects of the Battle Observer’s campaign. There’s regular coverage and analysis of the issue, along with report after report on the range of work done by fire-fighters – from road accidents and blazes, to prevention work in schools.”

Website of the Year: Kent Messenger Group,

“A brand in its own right rather than simply a newspaper companion site. A re-launch in March saw it redesigned on a responsive template, to improve the user experience on mobiles and tablets. Coverage of the death of Peaches Geldof and a huge accident on the Isle of Sheppey each attracted more than 250,000 unique browsers.”

Radio Programme of the Year: BBC Surrey, The Surrey Shoebox

“BBC Surrey provides powerful, touching and evocative radio with its Surrey Shoebox extended report. The programme takes the listener on an emotional journey from Crawley to poverty-stricken Romania, where presenter Matt Graveling distributes shoeboxes of gifts to children, many of them orphans.”

Television Programme of the Year: ITV News Meridian, D-Day

“ITV Meridian’s D-Day anniversary progamme provides a lesson in how to make a national anniversary local. The two presenters report from either side of the Channel, there’s great camera work, live interviews and emotional reports. Months of research and planning paid off with an informative and imaginative approach.”

Weekly (free) Newspaper of the Year: Kent on Sunday

“The Kent on Sunday is a title that’s trying to offer readers something extra to the daily breaking news on the website.  A good all-round informative read which tackles some really interesting subjects, from revealing lifestyle features on local people, to thought-provoking stories on the Thames Estuary airport proposal and intelligent business insight.”

Weekly (paid for) Newspaper of the Year: Kent and Sussex Courier

“A title that’s gone through considerable change. There’s a new editor and team working across print and online, but the focus on community remains the same. The winter floods are well covered, with a nine-page special report, crammed with news angles and pictures. Hard news, strong features and community issues are all in there too.”

Daily Newspaper of the Year: The News, Portsmouth

“The News has enjoyed another 12 months of campaigning for its communities, standing up for readers and providing an even more localised diet of daily news. It’s been a bold step to re-launch the Sports Mail, with 10p from every copy going to the community-owned Portsmouth FC.  A great all round package. “