Eight examples of journalistic excellence in the UK regional press, plus full list of Society of Editors awards winners

The UK regional press may face huge economic challenges, but Friday’s Society of Editors Awards for the sector showed it still produces journalism of the highest quality.

Here are eight highlights selected by Press Gazette, plus the full list of winners.

A new launch:

The Cambridge Independent was named Weekly Newspaper of the Year (below 15,000). The Iliffe Media-owned paper only began printing in September last year.

‘Riveting’ journalism:

The Derby Telegraph’s Isaac Crowson won Scoop of the Year for his work uncovering the “Horrors of Aston Hall”, the paper’s exclusive investigation that uncovered widespread allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children at a hospital for the mentally ill.

Judges called it “an absolutely riveting and veritable iceberg of a story” and “investigative journalism at its finest”. After collecting his award, Crowson praised the bravery of “all of the victims of Aston Hall who went through a truly horrific time… and are starting to find justice”.

Much more than clickbait:

The Derby Telegraph took home three awards, including Daily/Sunday Newspaper of the Year (below 20,000), Scoop of the Year, and Business and Finance Journalist of the Year for Robin Johnson. Judges said the paper had had a “great campaigning year” and “combined hard news coverage with important investigative journalism”.

Collecting the award for Newspaper of the Year, Telegraph editor Steve Hall said: “I’d just like to thank the team in Derby who every day give lie to the claim that journalists these days are only interested in clickbait [journalism].

“I’d also like to thank everybody in the room. The rooms we hold these events in may have got smaller over the years but the talent has never been as big.”

‘Deeply moving’ online journalism:

Wales Online was named Website of the Year but also picked up the Digital Award for its microsite dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the disaster that claimed the lives of 144 people, mostly children, in the Welsh mining village.

Judges called it “detailed, evocative and deeply moving” and “fantastic journalism, using all the tools available to deliver a remarkable, moving narrative”. Collecting the awards, Wales Online editor Paul Rowland said it was a “huge honour”.

“This is in memory of all the people whose lives changed forever that day and who will never be forgotten,” he said. “We have got an unbelievably talented team in Swansea and everyone works so hard every day to be imaginative and creative and tell stories in the best way they possibly can.”

Making a difference: 

The Birmingham Mail won the Campaign of the Year award for the “Birmingham Pub Bombings”. The newspaper has been supporting the families of 21 people, killed when two bombs were detonated in pubs in the city in 1974, as they continue to campaign for justice. Six men convicted of the bombings had their convictions quashed in 1991. An inquest is expected to be opened this year.

Judges said the campaign included “editorial which clearly shows the power of local journalism, great contacts and not giving up on a story”. The said it was an “excellent campaign that was well-presented and successful in the midst of opposition from police”

‘Proper investigative journalism’

Archant’s investment in a dedicated investigations unit paid off with investigative reporter Emma Youle named Weekly Reporter of the Year – beating four-time winner Gareth Davies.

Judges said Youle’s work offered “great examples of proper investigative journalism and undercover reporting” that brought about “fantastic scoops”.

These included revelations that overseas investors had spent £2.5bn buying property on the patch of the Ham and High.

Young talent:

Young Journalist of the Year was won by Hannah Somerville of the Oxford Mail, from among six strong entries by local reporters under 25. Judges said Somerville uncovered “three great local scandals where the truth needed to be told”.

These included the fact that an “embattled” NHS Trust chief executive had resigned but was being kept on in a new job at the same £190,000-a-year salary.

Exposing a jihadi leader:

Sunday Life was named Daily/Sunday Newspaper of the Year (above 20,000) and reporter Ali Gordon won Daily/Sunday Reporter of the Year. Judges said the paper “combines great exclusives with engaging news, features and sports coverage. They praised Gordon’s “cracking exclusive” in which she learnt Arabic and posed as a 17-year-old schoolgirl in roder to unmask the leader of a jihadi unit trying to lure girls to Syria. Gordon’s story “led to a breakthrough in smashing the network and a revieting series into Isis terrorist recruitment,” they said.

‘Unforgettable’ front page:

The Derry News took home Front Page of the Year for its “Held by her hero” splash that carried a picture of a man cradling the baby he rescued from a car that had slid into the sea at Buncrana Pier, Country Donegal, killing five people including three members of the same family. Judges said it was “a beautiful and joyous image”. “The baby held by her heroic rescuer was unforgettable and tear-jerking. The stark simplicity of the image was unforgettable.”

Regional Press Awards 2016 full list of winners:

JOURNALISTS’ CHARITY AWARD – sponsored by Gorkana
Winner: Sir Ray Tindle, Chairman, Tindle Newspapers

 YOUNG JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR – sponsored by HoldTheFrontPage
Winner: Hannah Somerville, Oxford Mail
Highly commended: Jack Maguire, Jersey Evening Post

BUSINESS AND FINANCE JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Foot Anstey
Winner: Robin Johnson, Derby Telegraph
Highly commended: Les Reid, Coventry Observer

ENVIRONMENT JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR – sponsored by United Utilities
Winner: Alex Kirby, Cambridge Independent
Highly commended: Pete Hughes, Oxford Mail

SPECIALIST WRITER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Jennifer Williams, Manchester Evening News
Highly commended: Aasma Day, Lancashire Evening Post

SCIENCE AND EDUCATION JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR – sponsored by IP Group
Winner: Martin George, Eastern Daily Press
Highly commended: Luke Sproule, Oxford Mail

FEATURE WRITER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Sarah Freeman, The Yorkshire Post
Highly commended: Aasma Day, Lancashire Evening Post and Louis Emanuel, Bristol24/7

COLUMNIST OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Asda
Winner: Allison Morris, The Irish News
Highly commended: Robert Campbell, Western Daily Press

WEEKLY SPORTS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
Winner: Jon Colman, The Cumberland News
Highly commended: Mark Taylor, Cambridge Independent

DAILY/SUNDAY SPORTS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
Winner: Neil Loughran, The Irish News
Highly commended: James Sharpe, Leicester Mercury

WEEKLY REPORTER OF THE YEAR – sponsored by UK Power Networks
Winner: Emma Youle, Archant Investigations Unit
Highly commended: Charles Thomson, Yellow Advertiser

DAILY/SUNDAY REPORTER OF THE YEAR – sponsored by UK Power Networks
Winner: Ali Gordon, Sunday Life
Highly commended: Isaac Crowson, Derby Telegraph

WEEKLY PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Sonya Duncan, Diss Mercury
Highly commended: Michael Gillen, The Falkirk Herald

DAILY/SUNDAY PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Tony Johnson, The Yorkshire Post
Highly commended: Andrew Cawley, Sunday Post and Simon Hulme, The Yorkshire Post

DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Kathryn Clarke-Mcleod, Western Morning News
Highly commended: Ian Bond, Hull Daily Mail and David Lewins, Bristol Post

SUPPLEMENT OF THE YEAR
Winner: Week End Magazine, Western Mail
Highly commended: The 96: In the words of their families – Liverpool Echo

THE DIGITAL AWARD – sponsored by JTI
Winner: aberfan.walesonline.co.uk, WalesOnline
Highly commended: yoppul.co.uk, Isle of Wight County Press

WEBSITE OF THE YEAR – sponsored by JTI
Winner: www.walesonline.co.uk
Highly commended: www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

FRONT PAGE OF THE YEAR
Winner: Held by her hero, Derry News
Highly commended: 9.13am, Western Mail and Our Jo, Yorkshire Evening Post

SCOOP OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Google
Winner: Horrors of Aston Hall, Isaac Crowson, Derby Telegraph
Highly commended: Pennine Acute: The Shocking Truth, Jennifer Williams, Manchester Evening News and Unmasked: Isis Terror Queen, Ali Gordon, Sunday Life

CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Asda
Winner: Birmingham Pub Bombing, Birmingham Mail
Highly commended: The Horrors of Aston Hall Hospital, Derby Telegraph

MAKING A DIFFERENCE AWARD
Winner: Save Our Services – CN Group

WEEKLY NEWSPAPER (BELOW 15,000)
Winner: Cambridge Independent
Highly commended: The Oxford Times

WEEKLY NEWSPAPER (ABOVE 15,000)
Winner: The Cumberland News
Highly commended: Kent Messenger

DAILY/SUNDAY NEWSPAPER (BELOW 20,000)
Winner: Derby Telegraph
Highly commended: Western Mail

DAILY/SUNDAY NEWSPAPER (ABOVE 20,000)
Winner: Sunday Life
Highly commended: Eastern Daily Press and Sunday Post

Picture: Society of Editors/Nick Carter Magstar Ltd

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