Judges had to pick their way through around 200 entries for the EDF Energy East of England Media Awards 2009, run in association with HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk.
The panel comprised: Southern Daily Echo editor Ian Murray, Oxford Mail editor Simon O’Neill, Bath Chronicle editor Sam Holliday, former regional TV reporter Karen Ainley, Nigel Bowles, co-director of agency John Connor Press Associates, and EDF Energy’s head of regional media relations Claire Byrd.
Awards were handed out yesterday at a ceremony at the SAS Radisson Hotel, at Stansted Airport.
Here are the judges’ comments with information about our winning entries and click through to see the full shortlist:
Print Journalist of the Year (Daily)
Jon Austin, Echo, Basildon
Jon is well known for his award-winning investigative journalism and this year’s entry didn’t disappoint, said judges, once again highlighting issues from within the local traveller community.
Judges felt the quality of daily newspaper reporters was of a particularly high standard this year, with any one capable of winning in the other regions. Jon was described as “the complete package” for producing incredible copy.
Print Journalist of the Year (Weekly)
Lui Straccia, Luton and Dunstable Express
Lui was singled out for punchy writing with a baby factory interview and the detail in a piece of about two killer brother winning particular praise.
Judges said all of the shortlisted journalists produced work that demonstrated versatility and imagination.
Newcomer of the Year
Sarah Calkin, Echo, Basildon
Sarah entered three investigative pieces including the story behind a preacher jailed for sex offences.
The judges praised her undercover reporting to expose a caravan park’s permanent residents and she was picked for her tenacity and commitment to keep on digging to get to the bottom of a story.
Daily Newspaper of the Year
East Anglian Daily Times
The EADT delivered a strong sales performance last year, alongside further development of its weekend package.
Its entry included coverage of the death of Sir Bobby Robson, along with a welter of stories about the NHS in Suffolk. The judges particularly rated the new Saturday sections and described it as “the best overall package”.
Weekly Newspaper of the Year (Paid-for)
The Essex Chronicle has undergone a major revamp in the last 12 months and, along with a new design, has around 40pc more stories.
The judges particularly liked its Stand Up For Free Speech edition and, although they found it tough to pick a winner, chose the Chronicle for its “bolder edge”.
Weekly Newspaper of the Year (Free)
The Hunts Post was praised for its strong campaigns and its quality look and feel.
Judges said all of the shortlisted papers were of a very good standard but the Hunts Post was singled out for its campaigning and excellent community, leisure and sports sections.
Front Page of the Year
Surf Tragedy Hits Family – Essex Chronicle
The Essex Chronicle managed to secure the stills of an amateur photographer to illustrate a drowning incident involving an Essex family on a Cornish beach, with the shots capturing the intensity of the rescuers, the beauty of the location and the tragic nature of the moment.
It was praised for being a complete front page, full of drama, that would make you want to buy the paper.
The PinkUn is given more freedom than many other websites and judges liked the high level of interaction and its live football coverage.
It contained strong podcasts and the ‘name the team’ historical online game provided good entertainment value. Judges picked it for its continued reader interaction and entertainment.
Feature Writer of the Year
Keiron Pim, Eastern Daily Press
Keiron was praised for his engaging interview style and for getting under the skin of his subjects in his entry which included an interview with writer Ian McEwan and a piece on canoeing along the River Waveney.
He was singled out as the best of a very strong bunch.
Designer of the Year
Daren Francis, Archant Norfolk
In Daren’s entry, the judges were full of praise for his Norfolk apple feature and also liked the clever use of an A-to-Z on his polar bear piece.
This was a close run between all the shortlisted candidates but Daren pipped it for an entry described as “simply stunning” by the panel.
Columnist of the Year
Martin Newell, East Anglian Daily Times
Martin’s column was singled out by the judges for the way in which it took local issues and painted a picture of an essentially rural Essex.
Judges picked him out from the group as “they just couldn’t stop reading” his work.
News Photographer of the Year
Alex Fairfull, East Anglian Daily Times/Archant Suffolk
Alex’s entry included sporting action; two heartbroken sons at their policeman dad’s funeral and an abandoned cheetah cub at Colchester Zoo.
Judges had a difficult decision, saying that overall this was a strong category, but chose Alex for demonstrating a broad range of skills and the widest range or material, including hard news features and sport.
Sports Journalist of the Year
Chris Lakey, Eastern Daily Press
Chris was praised for being a strong columnist whose writing gripped you immediately.
One Norwich story, about Glenn Roeder’s era at Carrow Road, was singled out for particular praise. He was picked by judges for writing in a way that instantly captured his readers.
Business Journalist of the Year
Jenny Chapman, Cambridge News
Jenny’s entry was selected for the proactive way in which she worked to get her stories.
The judges singled out her Cambridge bank story, saying it showed Jenny and the paper really wanted to make a difference. They also praised her bright and breezy business magazine. Judges praised for setting the agenda as much as reporting it.
Community Campaign of the Year
The Kids Are Alright – Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard
The Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard launched its Kids Are Alright campaign to counter negative images of young people, featuring case studies and attending community events.
It was run with support from a number of organisations and last October won a national Youth Justice Board award. Judges praised its originality and broad community engagement.
Environmental Journalist of the Year
Tara Greaves, Eastern Daily Press/Norwich Evening News
Tara’s entry included three good articles, all of which were supported by their eye-catching layout. Her entry was praised for a nice mix of hard news and well-written features.
She was praised for tackling issues and making them relevant for their readers.
Television Journalist of the Year
Kevin Burch, BBC Look East
The variety of items submitted demonstrated Kevin’s versatility, including a two-way about the aftermath of a terrible accident involving school pupils and an item on the day soccer legend Sir Bobby Robson died. One viewer described the latter as ‘achingly good’.
Judges said this was a tough category which this year saw a record number of entries but chose Kevin for
demonstrating exceptional talent and versatility.
Television News/Current Affairs Programme of the Year
Anglia TV underwent a restructure in 2009 with a new presenting line up of Jonathan Wills and Becky Jago.
Its entry stood out for the station’s 50th anniversary coverage, with plenty of old archive footage, an item marking the death of Sir Bobby Robson and a dramatic assignment on ice.
Radio Journalist of the Year
Nikki Fox, BBC Radio Norfolk
Nikki’s first story, about a young girl who suffered serious burns following an accident with a lighter, showed the power of social media. She contacted the girl’s father via Twitter and persuaded both he and her mother to speak.
Another of her pieces, about sending youngsters to Alton Towers to avoid antisocial behaviour on Hallowe’en, was picked up by national media.
Radio News/Current Affairs Programme of the Year
Ray Clark Breakfast Show, BBC Essex
Ray is a champion of local issues and causes close to the audience’s heart. His entry included an in-depth sequence about flooding and an interview with a mother who received a letter from a local hospital asking about her daughter’s patient care – 20 years after she had died aged six months.
Judges picked him for the wide variety of subjects tackled with superb interviewing skills.