One of the UK’s northernmost dailies emerged as the big winner at the Regional Press Awards for 2015 by claiming three top prizes.
The Courier, Dundee, was named Daily Newspaper of the Year in the 20,000-plus circulation category as the industry’s most prestigious annual awards were handed out Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel in London.
The DC Thomson title also topped the poll in the ‘Making a Difference’ campaign of the year prize voted for by the public, while Courier lensman Kris Miller was named Daily/Sunday Photographer of the Year
Also scoring a hat-trick of wins was Gareth Davies of the Croydon Advertiser who won the Weekly Journalist of the Year Award for the third successive year.
The Courier, which was praised by judges for its “strong front page splashes and great overall coverage.” launched its ‘Frank’s Law’ campaign after a former Dundee United footballer Frank Kopel was struck down with early-onset dementia.
It aimed to highlight the need for greater financial support for sufferers, which does not currently kick in until they reach the age of 65.
The ceremony, held at London’s Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, also saw notable successes for two of the remaining family-owned regional publishing groups, the Cumbria-based CN Group and the KM Group, based in Kent.
The Cumberland News was named best Weekly Newspaper with a circulation below 20,000, while the Kent Messenger took the prize for weeklies above 20,000 circulation.
Judges described The Cumberland News as “a great old school weekly with an assured sense of identity with its community.” while the Kent Messenger was hailed as “adventurous and fearless.”
The other big Newspaper of the Year prize, for daily and Sunday titles below 20,000 circulation, went to The Press, York, which judges said provided “a perfect example of community reporting” in the wake of last year’s floods.
The Front Page of the Year award went to the Cornwall-based West Briton for its ‘Thanks Andy’ homage following the death of PC Andy Hocking.
PC Hocking’s sudden death while off-duty at the age of 52 triggered an unprecedented outpouring of grief from the community.
The Campaign of the Year title went to the Hereford Times for its ‘One in Eight’ appeal, launched off the back of statistics that cited one in eight women in Herefordshire could expect to be affected by breast cancer at some point in their lives.
The campaign raised £60,000 which funded an extra nurse for two years at a breast cancer support centre called The Haven.
In the individual categories, the Birmingham Mail’s Jeanette Oldham picked up two awards for Specialist Writer of the Year and the Daily/Sunday Reporter of the Year, producing what judges described as “outstanding reports into areas the media are often nervous to explore.”
They added: “With sensitive investigations, complemented by powerful human interest, she shone a light into the dark areas of sexual abuse, race and police corruption.”
Gareth Davies’s win in the Weekly Reporter of the Year category capped a triumphant week which also saw police agree to revoke a harrassment order issued for doorstepping a convicted fraudster, following a two-year legal battle.
The judges said Davies submitted a powerful portfolio which combined dogged and diligent reporting, excellent interviews and smart use of police whistleblowing sources in difficult circumstances.
The Newcastle Chronicle was awarded the Scoop of the Year for reporter Sophie Doughty’s report into the assault on disabled pensioner Alan Barnes, a “hugely significant” local story which went on to make national headlines.
“It was a crime story that generated a huge local response. The award was given as much for the follow-up coverage of the amount of money raised as well as the original story of the attack on Alan,” said the judges.
The Western Mail’s Carolyn Hitt was awarded the Daily/Sunday Sports Journalist of the Year title, but narrowly missed out on the Columnist of the Year prize which went to newcomer Ericka Waller – a local blogger who was given her own column in Brighton daily The Argus.
The Leicester Mercury’s Lee Marlow was named best Feature Writer for the third year running while Simon Bain of The Herald, Glasgow was top Business and Finance Journalist, narrowly edging out the Derby Telegraph’s Robin Johnson.
The Regional Press Awards are organised by the Society of Editors on behalf of the industry and are held in association with HoldtheFrontPage and the Press Association.
They are made possible by the lead sponsorship of UK Power Networks and supported by a variety of sponsors including Asda, Foot Anstey, United Utilities and BT.
SoE executive director Bob Satchwell said: “2015 was a vintage year for local and regional journalism.”
Paul Horrocks added: “Once again the regional and local industry has illustrated the vital service it provides to communities up and down the country. From huge public interest campaigns to hard-hitting news, commentary and entertainment, the industry continues to silence its critics and shows why it is the best in the world.”
The full list of winners is as follows:
YOUNG JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR – sponsored by HoldtheFrontPage
Winner: Sophie Prideaux, Bristol Post
Highly commended: Rob Golledge, Express & Star, Wolverhampton
BUSINESS AND FINANCE JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Foot Anstey
Winner: Simon Bain, The Herald, Glasgow
Highly commended: Robin Johnson, Derby Telegraph
SPECIALIST WRITER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Jeanette Oldham, Birmingham Mail
Highly commended: Martin George, Eastern Daily Press
FEATURE WRITER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Lee Marlow, Leicester Mercury
Highly commended: Zoe Chamberlain, Birmingham Mail
COLUMNIST OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Asda
Winner: Ericka Waller, The Argus, Brighton
Highly commended: Carolyn Hitt, Western Mail and Catriona Stewart, The Herald, Glasgow
WEEKLY SPORTS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
Winner: Dave Evans, Newham Recorder
Highly commended: Jon Colman, The Cumberland News
DAILY/SUNDAY SPORTS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
Winner: Carolyn Hitt, Western Mail
Highly commended: James Pearce, Liverpool Echo and Suzanne Geldard, Lancashire Telegraph
WEEKLY REPORTER OF THE YEAR – sponsored by UK Power Networks
Winner: Gareth Davies, Croydon Advertiser
Highly commended: Ruby Kitchen, Harrogate Advertiser and William McLennan, Camden New Journal
DAILY/SUNDAY REPORTER OF THE YEAR – sponsored by UK Power Networks
Winner: Jeanette Oldham, Birmingham Mail
Highly commended: Sophie Doughty, The Chronicle, Newcastle
WEEKLY PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Michael Gillen, The Falkirk Herald
Highly commended: Mark Williamson, Stratford-upon-Avon Herald
DAILY/SUNDAY PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Kris Miller, The Courier, Dundee
Highly commended: Jon Lewis, Oxford Mail and Rob Lock, Lancashire Evening Post
DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Kathryn Clarke-Mcleod, Western Morning News
Highly commended: Sian David, Bath Chronicle and David Lewins, Bristol Post
SUPPLEMENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: Scotland’s 100 Iconic Moments, Sunday Post
Highly commended: The Way We Were, The Sentinel
WEBSITE OF THE YEAR – sponsored by JTI
Winner: www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk, Belfast Telegraph
Highly commended: www.chroniclelive.co.uk, The Chronicle, Newcastle and www.dailyecho.co.uk, Southern Daily Echo
THE DIGITAL AWARD – sponsored by JTI
Winner: Trinity Mirror Data Unit, Trinity Mirror
Highly commended: Hillsborough Inquests, Liverpool Echo and Pink Un Interactive, Eastern Daily Press
FRONT PAGE OF THE YEAR – sponsored by United Utilities
Winner: Thanks Andy, West Briton
Highly commended: Decency 1 Hatred 0, The Chronicle, Newcastle
SCOOP OF THE YEAR
Winner: Shameful, Sophie Doughty, The Chronicle, Newcastle
Highly commended: North Sea Gets £1bn vote of confidence, Rita Brown, The Press and Journal, Aberdeen
JOURNALISTS’ CHARITY AWARD – sponsored by Gorkana
Winner: David Pugh, Former Managing Director, NLA Media Access
Winner: 27 year Fight for the Truth, Hillsborough, Liverpool Echo
CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Asda
Winner: One in Eight, Hereford Times
Highly commended: Kids in Crisis, Hull Daily Mail and Pay up Now, Camden New Journal
MAKING A DIFFERENCE PEOPLE’S CHOICE CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR
Winner: Frank’s Law, The Courier, Dundee
WEEKLY NEWSPAPER (BELOW 20,000)
Winner: The Cumberland News
Highly commended: Essex Chronicle and The Scarborough News
WEEKLY NEWSPAPER (ABOVE 20,000)
Winner: Kent Messenger
Highly commended: Camden New Journal and The Westmorland Gazette
DAILY/SUNDAY NEWSPAPER (BELOW 20,000)
Winner: The Press, York
Highly commended: News & Star, Carlisle
DAILY/SUNDAY NEWSPAPER (ABOVE 20,000)
Winner: The Courier, Dundee
Highly commended: Express & Star, Wolverhampton