The Liverpool Echo’s decades-long Hillsborough campaign helped earn it the Newspaper of the Year accolade at the Regional Press Awards.
The awards, organised by the Society of Editors in association with HoldtheFrontPage and the Press Association, were handed out at a lunchtime ceremony London’s Savoy Place.
Judges praised the Echo’s long campaign on behalf of the victims of the 1989 football stadium disaster, describing it as “in the finest traditons of journalism.”
It not only earned the Trinity Mirror-owned title the Campaign of the Year prize, but also helped earn the accolade for Regional Newspaper of the Year for daily newspapers with circulations above 25,000.
The award follows the publication in 2012 of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s Report which concluded that no Liverpool fans were responsible for the deaths of 96 fans who died at the stadium in 1989.
The judges said that the paper’s decades of unflinching support for the victims in the face of an establishment cover-up was an outright winner.
They added: “Not only was it an extremely long campaign, it was an excellent example of a newspaper standing by its community against politicians and the police.
“Their presentation was first-class and contained an exceptional use of digital media. The quality of work achieved by this year’s winner was truly superb and the culmination of almost a quarter of a century of campaigning on behalf of its readers.”
The Echo took home four of the six awards for which it was shortlisted, including the Website of the Year for its Post and Echo Digital Team. Paddy Shennan also picked up the award for Feature Writer of the Year.
The award for Daily/Sunday Newspaper below 25,000 went to another Trinity Mirror title, Wales on Sunday, the Brentwood Gazette was crowned Weekly Newspaper below 20,000 and the award for Weekly Newspapers above 20,000 went to the CN Group’s Cumberland News.
Trinity Mirror celebrated further success as Media Wales won two further honours taking home The Digital Award for its Online Datastore, and Front Page of the Year for the Western Mail’s evocative cover marking the death of rugby legend Mervyn Davies.
Southern Daily Echo sports reporter Simon Walter was named Daily/Sunday Sports Journalist of the Year and reporter Melanie Adams took home the Scoop of the Year award for an expose about a 13-year-old being given a contraceptive implant in school without her parents’ knowledge.
Chairman of the judges Paul Horrocks, said: “Once again we have seen the amazing quality of journalistic effort that is being produced during challenging times for regional and local journalists.
“This year’s entries should act as a reminder to those who question the value of a free, diverse and vibrant press.”
Bob Satchwell Executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “Congratulations to all of this year’s winners who have yet again demonstrated the vital public service that they continue to perform.”
The awards were made possible by the lead sponsorship of UK Power Networks. They were supported by Asda and Foot Anstey solicitors and were held in association with HoldTheFrontPage and the Press Association.
The full list of winners and highly commended entrants is as follows:
Young Journalist of the Year
Winner: Richard Wheatstone, Manchester Evening News
Highly Commended: Bill Gardner, The Argus
Business and Finance Journalist of the Year
Winner: Robin Johnson, Derby Telegraph
Highly Commended: Simon Bain, The Herald, Glasgow
Specialist Writer of the Year
Winner: Ciaran Barnes, Sunday Life
Highly Commended: Jon Austin, The Echo, Basildon
Feature Writer of the Year
Winner: Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo
Highly Commended: Emma Higginbotham, Cambridge News
Columnist of the Year
Winner: Les Reid, Coventry Telegraph
Highly Commended: Carolyn Hitt, Western Mail
Weekly Sports Journalist of the Year
Daily/Sunday Sports Journalist of the Year
Winner: Simon Walter, Southern Daily Echo
Highly Commended: Stevie Roden, Nottingham Post
Weekly Reporter of the Year
Winner: Mark Williams, Lincolnshire Echo
Highly Commended: David Churchill, Croydon Advertiser
Daily/Sunday Reporter of the Year
Winner: Rob Waugh, Yorkshire Post
Highly Commended: Kevin Shoesmith, Hull Daily Mail
Weekly Photographer of the Year
Winner: Stephen Garnett, Craven Herald
Highly Commended: Anna Draper, Lincolnshire Echo
Daily/Sunday Photographer of the Year
Winner: Ian Rutherford, The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday
Highly Commended: Kate Lowe, Derby Telegraph
Designer of the Year
Winner: David Hamburgh, Edinburgh Evening News
Highly Commended: Marc White, Media Wales
Supplement of the Year
Winner: More Magazine, Leicester Mercury
Highly Commended: The Weekend, Bristol Evening Post
Front Page of the Year
Winner: Merv’s Boots – Western Mail
Highly Commended: Etched On Her Flesh – Derby Telegraph
We Are With You – Manchester Evening News
Scoop of the Year
Winner: Melanie Adams, Southern Daily Echo
Highly Commended: Gina Davidson, Edinburgh Evening News
Campaign of the Year
Winner: Hillsborough, Liverpool Echo
Highly Commended: Cassie’s Law, Colchester Daily Gazette
Website of the Year
Winner: Liverpool Post and Echo Digital team
Highly Commended: Wales Online, Media Wales
The Digital Award
Winner: The Wales Online Datastore, Media Wales
Highly Commended: The PinkUn, Norwich Evening News
Weekly Newspaper (Below 20,000)
Winner: Brentwood Gazette
Highly Commended: The Cornishman
Weekly Newspaper (Above 20,000)
Winner: The Cumberland News
Highly Commended: Camden New Journal
Daily/Sunday Newspaper (Below 25,000)
Winner: Wales on Sunday
Highly Commended: Dundee Evening Telegraph
Daily/Sunday Newspaper (Above 25,000)
Winner: Liverpool Echo
Highly Commended: Express and Star Wolverhampton