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Review of 2010: Journalists who made a difference

Being able to make a difference is something many journalists want to do and, despite staff cutbacks, campaigns for important causes have continued a-plenty across the regional press in 2010.

Many of these have focused on the government’s spending cuts and campaigns to save jobs and important local services for readers.

Journalists themselves have also taken part in a host of fundraising events in support of charities close to their hearts.

And the dedication of editorial staff to their jobs has been recognised at the many awards held for the media industry, including EDF Energy’s three annual ceremonies, which are run in association with HoldtheFrontPage.

The government’s spending review in October sparked a number of anti-cuts campaigns from the regional press.

These included The Northern Scot launching a bid to save RAF Lossiemouth from closure with a call for Tornado aircraft to be kept there, while the Eastern Daily Press launched a rival bid calling for the Ministry of Defence to ‘Make it Marham’ to maintain the Norfolk base as the home of the jets – with a decision expected by the government next year.

In Newport, the South Wales Argus started a campaign to save the city’s passport office from closure with the loss of up to 300 jobs, with its petition gaining 24,000 signatures and going to Downing Street.

And a campaign victory was recorded by the Inverness Courier when a direct rail service between the city and London was saved from the axe by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

Further success was reported by the Leicester Mercury which took up the case of promising Leicester Tigers rugby player Manu Tuilagi who was threatened with deportation, winning the support of thousands of local people and a Home Office decision to allow him to remain in the country.

A popular campaign to tackle youth unemployment and boost the job prospects of young people was launched at a number of titles with challenges to find 100 apprenticeships in 100 days.

The Bristol Evening Post impressively hit the target within hours and the campaign spread further to Portsmouth’s The News and the Grimsby Telegraph, which both started their own similar drives.

And Gloucester’s The Citizen and the Gloucestershire Echo launched their second campaign to find 100 apprentices on the back of a first successful one in partnership with Gloucestershire College, which won a public relations award.

On the charities front, Eastern Daily Press editor Peter Waters completed a 10-mile run to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, following the death of his wife Tracy in May, raising £1,700 in the process.

A fund set up by the London Evening Standard to end poverty in the capital won the praise of Prince William and Prime Minister David Cameron after it raised £5m – £2m of which was donated by generous readers and businesses, with the government contributing the rest.

And Derby Telegraph reporter Claire Duffin spent six days in Haiti two months on from its devastating earthquake, after she spearheaded a fundraising campaign by the paper, which had raised more than £200,000 for charity Aquabox when she went out there.

A more unusual way of raising funds for the Haiti earthquake appeal was thought up by Royal Borough Observer chief reporter Inderdeep Bains who offered a Valentine’s date with her to readers to raise money, enjoying a date with local hotel manager Kaviraj Johal to raise £500.

The awards calendar took a blow in March when the Regional Press Awards for 2010 were cancelled by organisers the Wilmington Group but the NUJ stepped in to take over the running of them, allowing them to be held in June, with Portsmouth’s The News winning the Newspaper of the Year title.

The O2 media awards have continued to go ahead in the North of England, with the Yorkshire and the Humber ceremony awarding a special lifetime achievement award posthumously to Nigel Scott, the former business editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post who died on Boxing Day at the age of 47 after a battle against cancer.

The EDF Energy Regional Media Awards were held during 2010, with winners being crowned for the South West, East of England and London and the South East – where Southern Daily Echo reporter Tara Russell was named both Newcomer of the Year and Daily Print Journalist of the Year despite starting out in the industry just over a year ago.

But the severe weather of recent weeks had the final say on the awards front, with heavy snow at the end of November preventing the Tom Cordner North East Press Awards from going ahead, which will now be held on 14 January.