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Eight local journalists win national award for Truss ‘car crash’ interviews

liz-trussEight local journalists are set to share a national award for a round of interviews they conducted with Liz Truss while she was Prime Minister.

The Broadcasting Press Guild has honoured the presenters from BBC Radio Leeds, Norfolk, Kent, Lancashire, Nottingham, Tees, Bristol and Stoke for their work on a series of “car crash” interviews given by Ms Truss in September following the “mini-budget” by then-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.

It is widely believed that Downing Street set up the interviews in the hope that the local presenters would present the then PM with a series of “soft” questions.

In fact it turned into a demonstration of the power of local journalism, with Ms Truss audibly floundering in the face of some tough grilling from the presenters.

Awarding them its jury prize, the BPG has described the breakfast show interviews as “game-changing for Liz Truss and her doomed government.”

The journalists to be honoured are Rima Ahmed, from BBC Radio Leeds, James Hanson, from BBC Radio Bristol, Graham Liver, from BBC Radio Lancashire, Anna Cookson, from BBC Radio Kent, John Acres, from BBC Radio Stoke, Chris Goreham, from BBC Radio Norfolk, Sarah Julian, from BBC Radio Nottingham, and Amy Oakden, from BBC Radio Tees.

BPG chair Grant Tucker told the BBC: “As an organisation of journalists, the BPG is always among the first to see the value of great interviewing – and these BBC radio interviews were game-changing for Liz Truss and her doomed government.

“There is no doubt that the PM’s feet were held to the fire in these eight radio sessions in a way that stood out among so much drama that was happening in British politics last summer.”

Chris Burns, the BBC’s controller of local audio commissioning, said: “It really was an iconic moment in local radio and also for how we work digitally, as the interviews were then packaged up into the most popular Newscast episode of all time for BBC Sounds.

“Our presenters – as they always do – were speaking for the communities they serve, as well as the whole country when they asked those questions. That is the beauty of local audio.

“We are immensely proud of everything local BBC radio does and it’s fantastic to see the work acknowledged with this award.”

The award’s announcement comes just nine days after more than 1,000 journalists undertook a 24-hour strike in protest at the BBC’s planned cuts to its local radio operations which will result in a loss of posts and journalists having to re-apply for their own jobs.

At the time, the corporation announced the proposed loss of 139 radio roles and a concurrent investment in local digital journalism to create 131 new jobs.