It meant disappointment for Lancashire Evening Post reporter Aasma Day, left, who was shortlisted for the £5,000 prize.
Aasma, who wins £1,000 along with the other four shortlisted contenders, was nominated for her six-week “Twilight World” investigation into life on the margins of society, which saw her look into pawn shops, food banks, soup kitchens and loan sharks.
A Special Investigation Award of £2,000 was given to The Guardian for its investigation into the extent of mass surveillance undertaken by GCHQ following the Edward Snowden revelations.
The award was established by Private Eye magazine and The Guardian in memory of Paul Foot, the journalist and campaigner who died in 2004.
Eye editor Ian Hislop said: “The results of the Paul Foot Award are a closely kept secret. Unless you work in GCHQ when you presumably have known for weeks.
“However what is not a secret is how impressive the entries are this year, how resilient investigative journalism is proving to be and how optimistic this made the judges feel.
“We tried to reflect the impressive range in subject matter by recognising the coverage of both global and local issues, by honouring stories that involved President Obama as well as those that involved youngsters in London, by giving a prize to a whole newspaper as well as one to an extraordinary single journalist.”
In announcing the original shortlist, the judges praised regional newspapers for carrying out “impressive investigations on limited manpower” despite attacks on their editorial budgets.