ITN dominates news awards

Coverage of the war in Iraq helped ITN to dominate the winner’s rostrum on Tuesday as it triumphed in four of the main categories at this year’s Royal Television Society journalism awards.

ITV’s Evening News won the award for best news programme and ITV News also won the best international news award. John Irvine was named television journalist of the year for his reports for ITV from Iraq and coverage of the coalition forces’ arrival in Baghdad.

As Irvine accepted his award, he urged the industry to “reflect on the cost” of the war coverage and to remember “all our absent friends”.

The ITV News team also dedicated the news award to reporter Terry Lloyd, who was killed in Iraq, and to cameraman Fred Nerac and interpreter Hussein Osman, who are still missing after coming under fire in the attack that killed Lloyd.

Channel 4 News won the news event award for its war coverage, and judges said it “dared to be different”, exploring “themes untouched by other broadcasters”.

Channel 4 News diplomatic correspondent Lindsay Hilsum was commended for “most notably, contributed poise and insight from the front line”.

The BBC won the home news award with a report on racism in Northern Ireland and collected the regional home and international current affairs awards for Cot Death – Real Story with Fiona Bruce on BBC One, In the Line of Fire – Panorama, also on BBC One, and Loyalists at War – Spotlight on BBC Northern Ireland. John Sweeney picked up the award for the Real Story programme, which has been credited with helping to secure the acquittal of mother Angela Cannings.

Resplendent in red Hawaii shirt, Sweeney said he would wear a black tie when acting director general Mark Byford accepted “we can do exclusive stories”.

Mark Daly, the BBC journalist who exposed racism among Greater Manchester Police trainees while working undercover, won the young journalist of the year award.

Judged to have pulled off a “brilliant piece of journalism, with excellent filming techniques and bravery”, Daly thanked the BBC for having the courage to commission the film and “for standing firm when things got pretty bad”.

Sky News, whose coverage of the war included the faked report by James Forlong – who later took his own life – was named news channel of the year.

Anchor Jeremy Thompson said the award came at the end of “a tough old year” and was “all the more rewarding”. He also made an impassioned plea to rival journalists and broadcasters to “unite in defence of our integrity”.

The broadcaster’s use of reconstructions and transcripts during the Hutton Inquiry also won it the innovation award.

By Wale Azeez

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