Mike Brooke, a reporter for Archant’s Docklands & East London Advertiser, has picked up London Citizen UK’s Journalist of the Year award – becoming the first local journalist to take the title in its six-year history.
Previous winners include BBC Newsnight’s Paul Mason, BBC’s Paul Donavan, The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee, The Independent’s Amol Rajan, Polish daily Dziennik Polski’s Ela Sobolewska and
The Guardian’s Allegra Stratton.
For this year’s award he beat competition form The Guardian and The Observer’s Heather Stewart and Chinese journalist Shiao Hung.
Elements of the press have come in for criticism in the inquiry for ‘intrusive’ journalism or just churning out other people’s press releases.
But in the East End we’ve shown the importance of community contact and getting out on the street to be involved with our readers and their concerns.
Our role as journalists has to be to help rebuild civic society–not just sit back and churn stuff out.
Brooke has been covering Citizen UK’s East London section for several years including its ‘Living Wage’ campaign for low-pay workers and ‘City Safe’.
This has included the paper’s East London offices being designated a ‘safe haven’ for youngsters at risk of street violence and taking on the campaign to try and get next summer’s Olympics marathon event returned to the East End.
The citation when London Citizen’s chairman Paul O’Shea presented him with the award at London’s City Hall read:
This person is rare in their field and deserves to be recognised for a 40-year career in local journalism.
He has taken a keen interest in reporting on local issues and been an active friend and ally for us, supporting our work and covering the stories that matter to local people.
This journalist has gone beyond the call by attending strategy meetings, joined a campaign team during Olympics coverage and even signed up the newspaper’s offices to be a ‘City Safe’ haven.
The paper has reported on the Living Wage from 2004 and the many local actions including closing a ‘crack’ house, while encouraging neighbouring local papers to cover our stories.
In the last year they have really shown the positive relationship between our actions and the reactions in the media.
We found this person loyal, committed and unique in their field and deserved to be recognised for the hard work–our ‘Journalist of the Year’ is Mike Brooke of the East London Advertiser.
Brooke started in local journalism in East London and later went on to spend 22 years at BBC Radio London and BBC TV’s Newsroom South East.
He has also been the NUJ’s representative at Radio London, chaired the union’s London Radio branch and was founder-editor of its former Broadcast Journalist publication, before returning to local journalism in 1997 as News Editor of the Wembley Observer and later the East London Advertiser.