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Reporter’s mystery clown scoop earns national award

A junior reporter whose story about a mysterious clown went viral over the summer has won an award for scoop of the year.

Annabel Howard, of the Northampton Herald & Post, was unveiled as a winner in the first ever Citrus Awards – championing innovative use of social media in journalism.

Her coverage of this story, which centred around a man in a clown costume posing in pictures at prominent Northampton landmarks, went global, earning 650,000 hits on a single website article.

The judges praised Annabel’s reporting which included a live ‘clown hunt’ in which she live tweeted while out looking for the world famous clown on Northampton’s streets at night.

The Herald & Post was itself thrust into the media spotlight and Annabel was interviewed by TV stations around the world, helping raise awareness of her tireless coverage of the story which started with one photo posted on Facebook.

Annabel Howard, left, with Libby Langley at the awards ceremony

Its original story about the clown was liked on Facebook 73,000 times and retweeted more than 3,000 times.

“Winning this award is amazing and illustrates just how much journalism has changed as a result of social media. Our story went worldwide with just one or tweets, the potential audience out there for a story is huge,” she said.

The awards attracted entrants from across the country and from a wide range of industries.

Northampton Herald & Post editor Steve Scoles told the paper: “It was an unusual story but Annabel approached it with good old fashioned hound dog reporting and I know for a fact that even the opposition reporters enjoyed Annabel’s coverage.

“She fully deserves this award for keeping  us all entertained with so much energy and professionalism.”

Libby Langley, of joint organisers Zest Communications, added: “I work with social media every single day and I was genuinely inspired by the achievements of some of the entrants.

“We had some excellent candidates who have used social media extremely effectively but we loved the way Annabel really went the extra mile on this story with a combination of good old-fashioned journalistic digging and a modern approach to digital storytelling.”