The cream of local journalism in the East of England gathered at The Fennes in Bocking yesterday as the 2011 EDF Energy East of England Media Awards were handed out.
Each of the prizewinners received a commemorative trophy together while winners in the individual categories also received a cheque for £100 from EDF Energy.
The awards were presented by Gareth Wynn, EDF Energy’s programme director for London 2o12, and paralympic sprinter Ben Rushgrove.
Here is our gallery of each of the winners receiving their awards together with what the judges said about each of the winning entries. All pictures by James Fletcher.
Newcomer of the Year: Faye McBride, Essex Chronicle
The judges said: “In her first week Faye was given a speed gun and told to check vehicles. Her local investigation got residents involved and eventually saw police installing speed-calming measures.
“And she dealt extremely well with a controversial piece about two local campaigns raising money for similar specialist care for two young girls with cerebral palsy – and how the two families had fallen out over the fundraising.
Feature Writer of the Year: Alice Hutton, Cambridge News
The judges said: “She brings the pages alive with her flowing copy, and seems to bring out the best in the people she talks to.
“Her interview with a holocaust survivor stood out, using her German language skills to help build trust and translate. And she shows good variety in her approach, with a fun first-person account of her attempt at the sport of roller-derby.”
The judges said: “Once again Ben Davis submitted a good all round set of photos to showcase his work at the Peterborough Evening Telegraph.
“It included a quality fire shot with police framed under rising smoke, a strong football picture and a dramatic photo capturing the violence of an English Defence League protest. He is a great user of light in his image-taking.”
The judges said: “Donovan has a different approach to looking at sport, getting behind the scenes and producing region-wide stories.
“Preparation for the Olympics featured, with Donovan honing in on Brazil’s gymnastics squad being based in Ipswich. And in the year that saw Norwich City promoted to the Premiership, his final entry delved into football finances.”
The judges said: “Record-breaking award winner Jon Austin is no stranger to these awards. His investigative approach continues to pay off with a string of strong exclusives and detailed backgrounders.
“His entry for the Basildon Echo included investigations into illegal dumping of waste, a safety alert at an oil refinery triggered by a leaked Health and Safety Executive letter and a share scam.”
The judges said: “Jenny submitted a good range of work, including an exclusive news story on the man setting up a bank to help small businesses, and an interview with the local entrepreneur who became a millionaire after securing investment from someone he met in the pub.
“Her final entry was a fascinating magazine piece about a doctor who grows 30 tonnes of cannabis a year for pharmaceutical use.”
Columnist of the Year: Dave Bromage, Herts & Essex Observer
The judges said: “Dave does a great job at portraying himself as the modern village idiot at the Herts and Essex Observer.
“The work is funny and offers a perspective that readers would definitely enjoy, be it his take on country lanes compared with London driving – he says London is easier, or skipping his first antenatal class with his wife to go and see a local band.”
Designer of the Year: Le-Anne Reeves, East Anglian Daily Times
The judges said: “Le-Anne makes great use of photos, combining them with background colours that fit the mood of the writing – for example environmental features and a strong graphic illustration for the sport pages.
“She’s very good at softening the design to fit the mood, with lots of delicate touches like overlapping photos and fading colour schemes.”
The judges said: “The level and detail of his work on the gypsies at Dale Farm as ‘incredible’, poring over details in the land registry and planning records, interviews taking him to Ireland, and revealing a string of exclusives whilst providing space for all sides of the argument.
“He consistently uses every avenue available to a reporter to uncover and build stories.”
The judges said: “She uses initiative, is tenacious and doesn’t always stick to the traditional approach with her methods – armed with a speed gun she galvanises a campaign on speeding motorists for example.
“She obviously gets on with people, securing very readable quotes and is a strong writer for someone so new to the profession.”
The judges said: “James Melley offers carefully, crafted material for BBC Essex that is well produced and makes you stop, listen and think.
“He places a high degree of importance on real people telling their stories, showing an empathy with those he interviews. He also has a tenacity to deliver new and original angles on stories, such as the coverage of the Craig Royce story.”
The judges said: “ITV Anglia reporter and presenter Neil Bradford combines ability with enthusiasm and commitment in his work.
“There’s brilliant coverage of preparations and local concerns ahead of an English Defence League march in Luton, which captures the mood and features good hard questioning of EDL leaders and a very strong live report.”
The judges said: “Ray is not afraid to take his show to the heart of the story, personally getting stuck in, such as when he goes to sea, to discover the joys of offshore cricket.
“He challenges opinion and holds people to account, but also has the lighter touch and can turn his hand to a wide-range of stories. His coverage of the Dale Farm evictions was challenging but balanced.”
The judges said: “Unusual, uplifting and often unreal – the judges said BBC TV East’s ‘Britain’s Great Reef’ did not feel like a typical regional programme.
“Brilliant production values helped bring to life a fascinating story about the Norfolk chalk reef. But it went beyond stunning underwater photography, with a real issue – a local environmental threat hidden from view – at the heart of this documentary.”
Website of the Year: www.cambridge-news.co.uk. Award collected by Cambridge News editor Paul Brackley, second left, and his team.
The judges said: “Cambridge-news.co.uk offers a newsy home page with clean design and a very strong video channel. All the paper’s journalists have their own Twitter accounts, feeding into the paper’s main Twitter feed on the homepage. It’s a great approach and works well with live news and breaking stories.
New specialist niche writers are helping drive revenues, with two online writers recruited to cover areas like homes, gardens and fashion.”
Community Campaign of the Year: Make it Marham, Eastern Daily Press. Award collected by editor Peter Waters, centre, and his team.
The judges said: “When news broke that Norfolk’s last RAF flying base could close, the EDP gathered MPs and councillors to discuss how to fight the threat to over 5000 jobs and risk of losing £130million pounds a year to the local economy.
“The campaign not only worked, but the defence minister told Parliament that choosing Marham was in part due to the strong community campaign.”
The judges said: “The Evening Star’s approach with ‘Gambling and me’ must delight the reporter involved.
“Simple, eye-catching and straight to the point – it’s design-led and no nonsense approach to revelations about footballer Michael Chopra’s gambling habit was a hit with our judges.”
Paid-for Weekly Newspaper of the Year: Essex Chronicle. Award collected by deputy editor Paul Dent-Jones.
The judges said: “It has everything you want from a local paper – exclusives, hard news, in-depth coverage combined with comment, local features, analysis and readers’ views.
“Regular sections like Remember When, Education, In Court and an entertainment pull out are backed with a good sport section and Essex Today magazine.”
“The St Neots News and Crier continues to go from strength to strength. It’s a real community newspaper that’s produced a succession of standout splashes in 2011.
“There’s quality throughout – the judges picked out one example of a great front page – the mums turned away from an international playgroup for being British.”
Daily Newspaper of the Year: Evening Star, Ipswich. Award collected by editor Nigel Pickover, centre, and his team.
The judges said: “The Evening Star is an eye-catching title that’s bold in its approach – front page exclusives, campaigns and great design.
“The paper was instrumental in the revelations and ultimate downfall of Suffolk County Council’s controversial chief executive. The paper not just followed the story, but helped set the agenda and produced splashes and even a special pull-out supplement on the whole saga.”