The Cumberland News won a second consecutive newspaper of the year award for weeklies with circulations above 20,000. The judges described it as ‘simply a brilliant newspaper’with ‘first-rate local news coverage with a clear emphasis on the county’s rural economy”.
CN Group editorial director Neil Hodgkinson said: ‘It’s now about my 30th year in this job, and at the end of the day it’s about building upon individual talent. I’ve had lots of that wherever I’ve worked.”
‘People tend to overcomplicate things – this is not rocket science. We need to keep bringing in highly-talented individuals and provide the best vehicle for them to show their talent.”
The Cumberland News’s Roger Lytollis also picked up feature writer of the year and sports writer Jon Colman won sports journalist of the year.
The newspaper of the year award for weekly newspapers with circulation under 20,000 went to the East London Advertiser – whose deputy editor Ted Jeory was named reporter of the year in the weekly category.
Editor Malcolm Starbrook praised his staff and said they worked in a ‘hard graft area’because of the changing demographics of the East End.
He said: ‘We’ve shown that if you go after stories that are important to the community – whether it’s a traditional community of white Anglo-Saxons or new Bangladeshi families, it doesn’t matter – it’s still good old-fashioned campaigning news that sells.”
He said his paper now competes in Tower Hamlets against seven Bengali-language weeklies, two online TV stations and two radio stations, along with a council-funded newspaper, East End Life.
‘As long as we’re trusted and are seen as being a truthful local newspaper with everything that goes with that – in terms of being an apolitical voice for the people – then that’s what puts the champagne bubbles in my bloodstream.”
Jon Austin of the Basildon Echo won the daily/Sunday newspaper reporter of the year prize for the second year running – for an investigation he was working on when he picked up the award last year.
Austin spent months on a story of how down-and-outs in the area were being rounded up and sold into slavery. Judges described the tales as ‘an outstanding example of brave, tenacious journalism, requiring persistence, honesty and strong powers of persuasion”.
He said: ‘Once you have won it, just to be shortlisted [again] itself is an amazing feat. I’m lucky to get time to go off-diary, two days a week sometimes. It’s really good to have time when I know I won’t have to file.”
Naomi Harris, 25, from the Express and Echo, Exeter, picked up the award for young journalist of the year for a series of investigative stories. Judges were impressed with her undercover sting in which she posed as a lapdancer and was told by a strip club owner that she could be put in touch with a massage parlour. She also uncovered a tale of woman whose parents were both killed by a hospital superbug on the same day.