A series of local monthly newspapers are going in to battle with the heavyweights of UK journalism for this year’s Paul Foot Award.
The Community Newsletter Series has been shortlisted alongside the likes of the Observer, Private Eye and The Times for the prestigious annual prize for campaigning journalism.
The Johnston Press-owned Series consists of seven monthly newsletters which cover small towns in South Yorkshire.
Editor Jim Oldfield sent in a host of exclusives for consideration including the tale of rector who had undergone four separate sex offences investigations and the revelation that Cathy Jamieson MSP had an armed robber in the family.
The judges’ citation focussed on a story which followed plans for an eco-town in Rossington – despite around 13,000 villagers saying they didn’t want it there.
The Rossington edition outed a councillor for not declaring his interests as a landowner and exposed the Government’s shortlisting of Rossington for a huge number of houses planned on green belt land.
Series editor Jim Oldfield said: “We worked really hard and this year we’ve done a lot of campaigning.
“This is the first award we’ve been shortlisted for and it’s down to the commitment of the staff.
“There are virtually no awards for monthlies and we’ve done well to get as far as we’ve got.”
The Newsletter Series employs just three reporters alongside Jim and is part of South Yorkshire Newspapers – the same division as Doncaster Free Press journalist Deborah Wain who jointly won last year’s award.
It was the first monthly series to be launched by Johnston Press and has since been used by the company as a blueprint for similar monthly newsletter launches.
The Paul Foot Award was set up jointly by the Guardian and Private Eye magazine in memory of the campaigning journalist who died in 2004.
The £5,000 first prize will be presented at the awards ceremony in London on November 3. Runners-up will each receive £1,000.
Martin Herron (14/10/2008 16:49:37)
As a proud former hack on the Newsletter series I’m so pleased for Jim and the guys. The Newsletters are, and always have been, the best newspapers in South Yorkshire and have always punched way above their weight. It’s great to see such committed and hard-hitting journalism finally getting the recognition it deserves. The first one to point out that they were never shortlisted for anything whilst I was on staff is right off the Christmas card list!