The Western Daily Press, edited by former Fleet Street journalist Terry Manners, stormed this year’s Regional Press Awards by winning five categories including Newspaper of the Year, Daily Newspaper of the Year and Community Campaign of the Year.
Manners, who left Express Newspapers after 20 years to edit the regional title, also saw his features editor George Frew awarded the feature writers’ prize, while the Photographer of the Year award went to the WDP’s Jon Mills, who was sent to cover the war in Iraq. The judges felt that Mills’s work there “captured both the excitement and danger of the war and the sensitive nature of the peace”.
Manners praised his team on stage and said after the ceremony: “Last year at these awards I vowed we would come back and go for Newspaper of the Year. And we have done it.”
He added: “I am so proud for my team across the West Country and it is great for decent, interesting journalism to prevail. We set out to be informative, fun, hard-hitting and honest with a unique blend of regional and national news, and that is what we have done.
“I am sure that, as the months and years go on, more people across the West of England will turn to us. We all feel extremely lucky to work for a newspaper group that truly cares about its journalists.
“The Press Gazette awards are the ‘Oscars’ of the industry.”
The Argus, Brighton, was named Evening Newspaper of the Year. Its extensive coverage of the conviction of millionaire slum landlord Nicholas Hoogstraten showed the strength of the small team, the judges said. It had also carried out several successful campaigns and launched a free listings magazine.
Weekly Newspaper of the Year was the Kent Messenger, which has enjoyed a 20 per cent rise in circulation year-on-year. Judges described it as a “huge package of news”.
The London Jewish News was named Free Paper of the Year. The judges said it had consistently striven to improve its editorial content with stories that were important to the Jewish community. It was also praised for its “feisty stance”.
by Mary Stevens