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EDF Energy South West Media Awards: What the judges said

edflogoThis year’s EDF Energy South West Media Awards were handed out at Somerset County Cricket Ground in Taunton today by Paralympic fencing champion Dimitri Coutya.

Each winner received a trophy and a cheque for £100.

On the judging panel were: Tim Williams, managing editor, Archant Norfolk, Alan Woods, editor, Brentwood Gazette, Terry Mitchinson, editor, Welwyn and Hatfield Times, Stacia Briggs, senior feature writer and columnist, Eastern Daily Press, Chris Hubbard, news editor, BOB FM, Chris Osborne, news editor, BBC Online East, Michael Bailey, sports journalist, Eastern Daily Press, Bill Smith, former Archant Norfolk photographer, James Bush, senior journalist, ITV News Anglia, and Paul Linford, editor of HoldtheFrontPage.

Here’s what the judges said about each of the winners.

Newcomer of the Year: Katie French, Mid Devon Gazette

“Katie’s entry showed how strong news stories really should be done. She convinced a sex attack victim to wave her right to anonymity – no easy feat. The resulting interview was filled with strong quotes, with Katie expertly taking a court story away from the courtroom.”

Digital Journalist of the Year: Joseph Wilkes, North Devon Journal

“A lot of work has gone into Joseph’ work on local traffic accidents for the North Devon Journal website. He uses FoI very well, but then displays the findings on the site in a way that makes it easy for people to find out what was happening where they lived. It makes for a good piece in the paper too.”

Specialist Journalist of the Year: Johanna Carr, Cornish Guardian

“Johanna’s work at the Cornish Guardian is a reminder of the importance and necessity of good, strong court reporting. But Johanna also displays a talent for combining her patience – seeing through court cases from the beginning – with a flair for editorial decision making.”

News Photographer of the Year: Penny Cross, Plymouth Herald

“Penny has a creative way of seeing things, and can put her hand to newsy and more feature-based work. Her subjects included firefighters tackling a night-time blaze, a behind the scenes tour of Breakwater Fort in Plymouth, at home with a hoarder and a wreath laid at sea to honour fallen Merchant Navy heroes.”

Sports Journalist of the Year: Daniel Evans, Bath Chronicle

“Daniel’s report of Sam Burgess’ rugby union debut is a cracking read – pacey from start to finish. And there’s a lovely interview with prop Max Lahiff soon after he joined the club. It quickly gets to the character behind the sportsman, with the player’s Batman washbag providing the theme.”

Feature Writer of the Year: Lisa Evans, Bath Chronicle, Bath Weekend

 “Lisa submitted three strong pieces which shone a light on her interviewing technique and, in particular, her ability to persuade celebrities to talk about often difficult or taboo subjects. Lisa manages to walk the line between light entertainment and getting across some important messages.”

Columnist of the Year: Mary Quicke, Devon Life

“Mary Quicke’s column for Devon Life is like opening a window on life in the countryside. Her writing is spare but affecting, heartfelt and often quite beautiful. The entry included a particularly moving tribute to her late father and an evocative and gentle piece about the reality of farming.”

Designer of the Year: Sian David, Bath Chronicle

“Sian takes subjects and creates lovely designs around them, but always in a pleasing manner, clean and never too detailed. There’s good space in her work, which often has an airy feel, making it easy on the eye. Her Paloma Faith double page was stand-out.”

Radio Journalist of the Year: Carrian Jones, Global’s Newsroom – West (Heart Cornwall)

“It is clear that Carrian goes ‘above and beyond’ what’s expected of her to deliver fresh, captivating, well-researched and informative reports. A natural story-teller who throws herself into reporting, her use of descriptive language, creative use of audio and confident delivery really connects with the listener.”

Television News Journalist of the Year: Fiona Lamdin, BBC West

“Fiona is able to deal with a wide variety of topics. She’s confident in her questioning but tells the story about missing teenager Becky Watts in a very respectful way. And she deals admirably with all sorts of chaos as the power goes down just before going on air, when a thunderstorm hits the Glastonbury Festival.”

Weekly Print Journalist of the Year: Flora Thompson, Western Gazette

“The court story about the dad who neglected his two-year old was much enhanced by the interviews with the child’s mum and nan, giving it a real personal angle. She also successfully overturned a dubious court ruling initially banning identification of the father.”

Daily Print Journalist of the Year: Sam Blackledge, Plymouth Herald

“Sam’s stewardship of the Plymouth Herald’s Safer Spaces campaign produced thoughtful and well-researched articles illuminating a vitally important community issue – mentally ill people being detained in police cells.

He brings the issue to life with well-written analysis and strong case studies.”

Website of the Year:

“FLIC stands for: ‘For Local Independent Coverage’ and has already proved its worth as a local news platform with 164,000 monthly visitors. Theirs was also an object lesson in how to submit an entry – with detailed information about revenues, traffic and social media presence in support of their case.”

Community Campaign of the Year: The Cornishman, Heart Start, and Plymouth Herald, Safer Spaces

“The Heart Start campaign was launched by The Cornishman to save lives. The target – to pay for 100 defibrillators and train 500 people across Cornwall – was smashed. The campaign connected with many communities, with over a thousand school children also being trained – the first time this had happened in the country.

“Months before it hit the national agenda ahead of the General Election, The Herald started working to raise awareness of mental health issues and the lack of safe space in the city for sufferers in times of need. Through the use of emotive case studies, FoI requests, data analysis, expert interviews and site visits, the paper triggered a detailed public debate on the issue.

“It was a tough one to judge, and in the end the panel decided to have two winners, for two very different but powerful campaigns.”

Front Page of the Year: West Briton, ‘Thanks Andy’

“The headline came from the spontaneous ‘Thanks Andy’ posters and tributes that appeared around Falmouth after Andy Hocking died. It stands out and what a fitting way to remember a much-loved local policeman. A front page perfect for the story it tells.”

Radio news or current affairs programme of the Year: Laurie Lee Centenary, BBC Radio Gloucestershire

A real celebration of the history and life of the South West. The coverage marking 100 years since the birth of author Laurie Lee was complimented by an impressive use of guests, well-briefed presenters and journalists, who also drew on social media to really bring the story alive.”

Television News and Current Affairs Programme of the Year: ITV News West Country, Becky Watts Outside Broadcast

“ITV News West Country’s Outside Broadcast about missing teenager Becky Watts was a combination of many elements – but with live reporting at its heart, to cover a fast-changing national news story, with limited time to stack up the facts.”

Free Weekly Newspaper of the Year: North Devon Gazette

“The Gazette delivers a healthy mix of hard and soft news and features, with reporters jumping in lifeboats and out on late night police poaching patrols to deliver great content. There’s good off-diary reporting and some stand out scoops, from tip offs and clever FOI requests.”

Paid For Weekly Newspaper of the Year: Western Gazette

“Packed to the rafters with stories, pictures and information, the Gazette squeezes everything out of its patch to produce an astonishingly good weekly newspaper. It doesn’t shy away from the bold approach and its splash calling for the resignation of a councillor convicted of theft was extremely well executed.”

Daily Newspaper of the Year: Bristol Post

“The Post has repositioned itself editorially, and is aggressively focused on targeting its audience in new ways. It’s as much about lifestyle as hard news and, married with a clean new look for the newspaper, the work is bearing fruit with increased copy sales in targeted areas.”