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EDF Energy London and South of England Awards: What the judges said

With over 250 entries to go through, judges were spoilt for choice with the quality of entries.

The panel comprised: Express & Star editor Adrian Faber, Society of Editors executive director Bob Satchwell, Braintree and Witham Times editor Aynsley Davidson, media trainer and former TV presenter Karen Ainley, Sheffield College photography course leader Paul Delmar and EDF Energy’s head of regional media relations Claire Byrd.

Find out here what they said about the winners.

Newcomer of the Year – Nev Wilson, Surrey Mirror

This year’s field really was one of the largest and strongest levels of entry we have ever seen, with nearly 40 newcomers considered. Nev Wilson started on the Surrey Mirror in May 2007 after completing a PA course in journalism.

His entry included an exclusive, later followed up by the nationals, about a farmer who built a castle in which he and his family lived for four years while it was disguised as a stack of straw.

He also included an emotional account of a five-year-old killed by chickenpox and a report of how Conservative Leader David Cameron jumped three feet from a helicopter during an emergency landing.

The judges said the ultimate winner was a reporter whose byline they expect to see on the nationals shortly.

Environmental Journalist of the Year – Malcolm Shaw, ITV Meridian

Malcolm Shaw works for ITV Meridian from its Brighton studios and says he has always been keen on covering wildlife and environmental issues.

His entry included a news report on the decline in the number of Kittiwakes nesting at one of the south coast’s most important seabird colonies; a feature on the return of the otter to Sussex after an absence of 30 years; and a report on a pair of rare Peregrine Falcons returning to nest on the tallest building in Brighton.

The judges said Malcolm’s work was all well-filmed and praised for as being very informative and simply lovely.

Business Journalist of the Year – Gareth Lewis, Southern Daily Echo, Southampton

Gareth Lewis has worked on newspapers across the south coast for 11 years and moved onto the Daily Echo’s business desk in 2003. He says he is irritated by the notion that business is a niche and jargon-riddled activity and aims to write in a way that is easily accessible to all the paper’s readers.

His entry included copies of the Hampshire Business magazine and coverage of job cuts at insurance giant Zurich. Separately, Gareth had also submitted work the judges described as very strong and entertaining business coverage for our columnist award.

He was praised for a really strong entry that was proactive, punchy and far-removed from normal business reporting.

News Photographer of the Year – Stuart Emmerson, Harrow Observer

Stuart Emmerson joined the Harrow Observer in 1998.

His entry included an image later sold to the nationals of the aftermath of a major gas explosion; a picture of Boris Johnson; medical staff lining up with their mobiles to snap Prince Charles during a hospital visit; and the despair and joy of a six-a-side football match.

Judges particularly praised Stuart’s hospital visit picture and said he had a strong set of pictures for a local weekly paper. They felt his entry demonstrated real pride in his work and grabbed your attention.

Sports Journalist of the Year – Simon Osborn, Surrey Mirror

Simon Osborn joined the Surrey Mirror as a trainee sports writer in January and says that, although his patch doesn’t include any major teams, it does allow him the chance to write some extended features.

His entry included a feature on a local golf pro who was the only amateur to make it to the Masters one year; an in-depth interview with former England cricketer Alec Stewart; and a focus on developing sport in Surrey schools.

The judges liked Simon’s writing style and his focus on grass roots.

They were also pleased this was the first time three weekly writers had been shortlisted for this award ahead of daily paper rivals.

They praised Simon for really well-written and good humorous reports and said this journalist proved that a great sports writer doesn’t need to have a big football team on his doorstep.

Feature Writer of the Year – Simon Toft, The News, Portsmouth

Simon Toft joined The News as chief feature writer in 1988 and is now features editor.

His entry included three cover stories from the weekend supplement, each over 2,000 words.

They focused on the new British Scrabble Champion; one of Britain’s last master wheel builders; and Portsmouth’s Mr Cheap, the man behind a string of bargain basement stores.

The judges praised Simon’s good writing and good range of subjects.

It was described as clever and different and the judges liked his focus on getting ordinary people to tell a proper story.

Columnist of the Year – Neal Butterworth – Daily Echo, Bournemouth

Neal Butterworth has been editor of the Echo and Advertiser Series since 1998 and has been writing a column since 1980. Although local and national issues get an airing, Neal says he writes mostly about the everyday agonies of coping with a demanding wife and two expensive daughters.

His entry included an emotional and humorous tribute to his dad; and an amusing look at his wife and daughter’s fear of flying. The judges praised Neal’s really lovely writing style that could make you laugh one moment and cry the next.

Designer of the Year – Alan Cooper, The News, Portsmouth

Alan Cooper started his career as a reporter in Bognor in the early 1980s and has held a variety of posts at The News since 1984 where he is now deputy chief sub.

His entry included a spread on the role of the Navy around the world; a page looking at who local people would be supporting in Euro 2008; and a spread on the bluffer’s guide to Pompey. His work was described as clean and impressive.

Radio Journalist of the Year – Ed Cook, BBC Radio Kent

Ed Cook has the ability to make radio burst through the airwaves in the way he tells his stories. His first piece, in which a war veteran visited the war grave of his best friend in Normandy, was highly emotional.

His second was powerful and looked at how a teenager turned his back on gang violence. Ed’s final piece was a well-constructed and atmospheric piece about cabbies who are the victims of violence.

Television Journalist of the Year – Jon Hunt, BBC South East Today

Jon Hunt is an experienced television reporter who has concentrated on running the acclaimed investigations bureau for BBC South East. His pieces demonstrated his ability to uncover wrongdoing and corruption.

All three items were gritty issues – bullying in schools, loan sharks and counterfeiting gangs – but it was his story on the connection between the counterfeiters and people smuggling from China that the judges particularly singled out.

Radio news/current affairs programme of the year – John Warnett Breakfast Show, BBC Radio Kent

The format of the John Warnett Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Kent changed in 2007 to increase the number of live reports and include more interaction with the audience. The submitted programme extracts showed John Warnett to be a very accomplished presenter and very engaging in the way in which he draws stories out of his listeners who phone in.

Following up a story from a listener about a large rise in her water bill prompted a flurry of similar stories. The station is also very adept at covering major news stories, such as the Farnborough Air Crash and Kingsnorth Climate Camp.

Television news/current affairs programme of the year – ITV Thames Valley, Heathrow’s Terminal 5

ITV Thames Valley had planned well for its outside broadcast covering the opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow. However, as they went on air, they were faced with the collapse of
the new high-tech baggage system and had to react quickly to update the details as they came in.

The team on the ground, and back in the newsroom, gallery and studios, worked hard to keep viewers informed about latest developments. Judges praised the accomplished way in which it reacted to breaking news while on air.

Community Campaign of the Year – ‘Parking Mad, Daily Echo, Bournemouth

The Daily Echo launched ‘Parking Mad’ in 2007 in response to growing concerns about children’s safety outside local schools and its aim is to shame parents who park dangerously outside school gates. The Echo regularly sends out a photographer to capture rogue parkers and the worst examples are published in the next day’s paper, or on a dedicated section on the website.

Repeat offenders have been warned they risk having their faces published, instead of just their cars. As a consequence of the campaign the local council has introduced traffic regulation orders outside schools and mounted enforcement operations.

The judges liked this campaign for being different and for its strong pictures. It picked up an issue that affects a lot of people without being afraid of who it might upset along the way.

Print Journalist of the Year (Weekly) – Nev Wilson, Surrey Mirror

His entry for weekly print journalist also included his exclusive on the farmer who lived with his family in his haystack castle; the emotional account of a five-year-old killed by chickenpox; and a report of how Conservative Leader David Cameron jumped three feet from a helicopter during an emergency landing.

He was praised for some brilliant local exclusives that eventually made it national. All of his stories were well-executed and a good read.

Daily Print Journalist of the Year – Matt Jackson, The News, Portsmouth

Matt Jackson worked on the Swindon Advertiser before moving to Portsmouth where he took on the role of defence correspondent in April. His entry included an exclusive on the Navy putting to sea without missiles; a Navy landmark under threat as part of a shake-up; and an expected fly-past being cancelled amid fears it would be seen as a waste of money.

The judges said Matt clearly had good contacts who helped him produce good stories.

Website of the Year –

The Ham and High’s editorial team launched Operation Goldenweb in February this year to increase readership of its website by at least a third. Two unexpected events, the Camden fire and Tottenham reaching Wembley, sent readers to its website like never before – but that rise has been maintained without added resource.

In May, the site passed 50,000 monthly unique visitors for the first time in its ten-year history and page impressions rose beyond 100,000 for only the second time. The judges were impressed by the story teasers on the homepage and liked the fact there was a good number of headlines without the reader being overwhelmed with information.

The layout is clear, uncluttered and eye-catching with good use of small photos.

Front Page of the Year – ‘Pompey Expects, The News, Portsmouth

‘Pompey Expects’ was the front and back page of The News on the day of Pompey’s FA Cup Final. With permission from the city’s Royal Naval Museum a celebrated picture of Nelson leading his men on HMS Victory was reworked with a Pompey theme.

Design editor Graeme Windell transposed the faces of the entire squad onto Nelson’s officers, with manager Harry Redknapp taking the role of the great admiral himself. Reaction from readers was so positive that a commemorative poster was produced – and almost 5,000 sold in the days after the big game.

These awards have never been judged without an argument until now. All of the judges were blown away by The News – it was described as very clever and very different, more than a good idea which was superbly put together and beautifully done.

Weekly Newspaper of the Year (Free) – Crawley News

The Crawley News was shortlisted for this award last year and went away determined to do even better this time around. Alongside its regular hard news content and investigations it has also added a community-focused campaign to raise awareness of, and money for, a local hospice.

Its regular look at the lighter side of life in Crawley has featured a man who drives a hearse as the family car, the pensioner who believes global warming has increased the size of his veg and the town’s own answer to Magnum PI. The judges said this was a lively paper that reflected its lively news patch.

It included strong off-diary content, a good sports section and had a nice, bright and engaging layout.

Weekly Newspaper of the Year (Paid-for) – Surrey Mirror

The Surrey Mirror underwent the biggest change in its long history when it converted from broadsheet to tabloid in February. That change has been popular with readers, with a circulation growth reported in the last round of ABCs.

With the re-launch came fresh content ideas, including double page spread news, a reader picture of the week and break outs to build on lead stories. Its off diary stories, already mentioned in these awards today, included the farmer secretly living in his haystack castle and the tragic chicken pox death of a five-year-old boy.

The judges said the Surrey Mirror was its neighbourhood’s public curtain twitcher and it had transformed itself into a tabloid paper well. It was everything a good weekly paper should be, with great news and sport coverage and lively reader feedback.

Daily Newspaper of the Year – The Argus, Brighton

The Argus submitted three strong editions for its entry in these awards. In the first, from April, it investigated how easy it is to buy heroin in Brighton and Hove following a spate of a dozen deaths from the drug.

The story appeared on the day a mother described losing her to daughter to an overdose. Later that month it submitted an edition that show-cased its added value, with a glossy Food Guide magazine, a Brighton Festival supplement and its regular weekly 24-page entertainments section.

Its last edition, from June, demonstrated how the paper can still react to breaking news, with coverage of a riot. The judges said all three editions were very newsy and the supplements were superb.

They praised The Argus for its high story count and interest on every page. Its supplements were described as excellent and as providing real value for money.

They felt you could see the effort that had gone into putting together the editions it submitted. Its features are still strong, its pictures compelling and it was seen as a great overall package.