Staff at nine weekly newspapers will find out tomorrow (Thursday) if they have scooped one of the top prizes in British journalism.
The papers were regional winners in the annual BT Press and Broadcast Awards and have gone on to the national final.
The ceremony takes place at the Royal Garden Hotel on Thursday evening. HoldTheFrontPage will be there and we’ll have the results on this website soon after the announcements are made.
Bidding for the title of BT Weekly Newspaper of the Year are:
Hinckley Times. Judges of the Midlands regional competition said its hallmarks were strong, off-diary news stories, confident and positive editing, and clean, uncluttered designs.
Mid Ulster Mail – “bold, assertive and easy to read…populist and careful and balanced in its politics”. Judges said its content, style and layout were strong and it made striking use of photographs.
Wakefield Express (pictured) – “a paper that neatly combines the traditional virtues of the local weekly with strong community campaigns which achieve results”. In the first half of last year, the Express recorded its highest readership figure for five years.
Golwg. The Welsh language title took the award for the first time. Judges said that in a strong field, it just had the edge over more traditional weeklies.
South London Press (pictured). “Bold, brash and simply demanding to be read” was how judges described it. The Press beat more than 40 entries to take the London and Northern Home Counties title.
Crosby Herald. The North West winner was described as “a paper that manages to combine a hard news edge with a real sense of community, a lively sports section and an education supplement. But its real heartbeat is its letters page which makes it clear it is a vital part of the community”.
Somerset County Gazette, praised by West of England judges for its “high story count, loads of letters and comprehensive coverage of local sport. But the front pages of the editions it submitted for scrutiny emphasised its strong campaigning qualities and showed that here is a newspaper that is prepared to stand up for, and fight for, its readers”.
Kent Messenger – winner of the Southern Home Counties award for its “strong sense of community, vigorous campaigns and excellent sports coverage”.
Falkirk Herald. Described by regional judges as “a quality product – very readable, well presented and strong on community involvement…great fun all round”, the paper picked up its BT award weeks after being named Royal Bank of Scotland Local Newspaper of the Year at a ceremony at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
The weekly newspaper award is one of 13 that will be announced at the ceremony. They were chosen from 113 finalists, selected from more than 2,500 entries.
In the running for the Weekly Journalist of the Year award are:
Carolyn Henson (Hinckley Times). Judges said her detailed coverage of the plight of women who claimed their lives had been scarred after operations carried out by a hospital gynaecologist, who subsequently died of alcoholic liver disease, stood head and shoulders above the other entrants in the Midlands competition. “The depth of her stories, and the way she followed them through, showed tenacity and a real understanding and feel for the story she was covering.”
Victor Gordon (Portadown Times). Judges commented on “the vivid, meticulous, readable and above all compassionate nature of his entries”.
Roger Woodcock (Newcastle Herald and Post). North East judges said he believed in giving the people in his patch a voice through the paper. “It’s him they turn to when they want their case heard. So when a teenager wrongly accused of rape wanted to tell of the hell he went through waiting for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether or not to proceed with the case, he got in touch with Roger Woodcock.”
Sue Goddard (Cambrian News). She submitted three “excellent” exclusives, which demonstrated the value of a strong contact base and spoke volumes for her determination to compete with regional dailies, TV and radio for the best off-diary stories, judges said.
Lee Brown (South London Press). Regional judges said editors would give their right arm for a crime reporter like Lee.
Edward Swindon (Manchester Metro News). He was a runaway winner of the North West award with “well-written and comprehensive” exclusives on Britain’s first 13-year-old father of twins and the transsexual who won compensation after being barred from a pub.
Ian Shepherd (Cornish Guardian). He impressed judges with his interview with 70-year-old Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, who he admitted for the first time to one of his early crimes – an attack with a piece of slate on another youngster when he was 11 and living as a wartime evacuee in Cornwall.
Alan Muir (Falkirk Herald). He won the Scotland award with three “cracking exclusives” including an investigation revealing that something in the water supply was to blame for stomach aches and mouth ulcers suffered by villagers in Limerigg.
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