AddThis SmartLayers

Regional press reporter scoops 'best exclusive' prize at creative awards

An expose about a community of travellers’ links to a property empire has netted a newspaper reporter his second award of the year.

Jon Austin, investigations reporter with The Echo in Basildon, scooped best exclusive story at the Creative East Awards 2008.

The 34-year-old overcame competition from across the east of England media including entries from the Eastern Daily Press, ITV Anglia and BBC shows Look East and Inside Out.

The awards, which started life last year, celebrate creative industries such as animation, photography and broadcasting.

Jon’s story, Travellers: The Truth, exposed links between travellers fighting to stay at an illegally-built site at Crays Hill near Basildon – on the grounds that they would otherwise be homeless – and properties elsewhere in the country and in Ireland.

Judges at the event, hosted by TV presenter Clive Anderson, described the entry as “a superb piece of investigative journalism”.

Jon, who has worked at The Echo for four years, said: “It was a great honour to win against such tough opposition as a reporter who spent time with soldiers in Afghanistan and such well known productions as ITV Anglia, Look East and Inside Out.

“A lot of work went into the investigation so it was great to be recognised.”

In January, Jon’s story was one of three which won him the best daily reporter prize at the EDF Energy East of England Media Awards, run in conjunction with holdthefrontpage.

He has also been shortlisted for the up-coming Newspaper Society and Newsquest awards for the same story.