Victorious: Kent on Sunday picks up Free Newspaper of the Year award
The independently-owned Kent on Sunday was crowned Free Newspaper of the Year for the second year running at the Newspaper Society Weekly Newspaper Awards.
Best Paid-For Weekly was the Wokingham Times for its balance of local news pages and well-designed supplements.
Kent on Sunday’s victory came just four months after it became the first free paper to win the top prize at the Regional Press Awards.
Judges said it had “outstanding design and high quality editorial”. The paper also won Best Free Weekly in the South East, including Greater London.
Editor of the Wokingham Times , Keith Redbourn, was surprised by his paper’s result. The Times has a circulation of just 10,375 and a team of ten, many of whom are juniors.
“This is a victory for the smaller weekly newspapers,” said Redbourn.
“We don’t have huge resources or a big staff so this is a fantastic achievement and a great testament to all our hard work.”
The Aberdeen & District Independent picked up the Best Free Newspaper in Scotland award for the seventh consecutive year.
Derek Pyper, who has been editor for a year, said: “In the past advertising has overwhelmed our editorial space but the firm’s policy is changing. We are starting to attract advertisers by convincing them that the paper is a good read.”
Darach MacDonald, editor of the Ulster Herald, which picked up best paid-for in Northern Ireland, said the success of his paper was down to the representation of the views of all sections of Irish society.
He said: “We have been expanding and are not serving a sectarian readership as people would expect us to do. We are challenging people’s prejudices.”
The Sutton Coldfield Observer was named best free weekly in the West and East Midlands and Eastern regions. Its journalists also picked up two awards. Best news journalist on a free paper was Charlotte Evans and best feature writer was John Newton.
David Sanderson of The Gazette, Enfield, was best feature journalist on a paid-for and Richard Birch of The Western Gazette , best news journalist on a paid-for.
Other regional winners were: Wales and South West: (paid for) Cornish Guardian , (free) Taunton Times .
West and East Midlands and the Eastern Region: (paid for) Tamworth Herald. North West, North East and Yorkshire: (paid for) The Gazette & Herald, Ryedale, (free) Isle of Man Courier. Scotland: (paid for) Southern Reporter.
Best photographer (free) was Allan Williamson, Lichfield Mercury, and best photographer (paid-for) was Nick Parford, Maidenhead Advertiser.
Peter Aldous, general manager at Norfolk Weeklies, won the sponsor Clacksons’ special award for Innovative Person of the Year for his publication Your Rubbish, Your Choice which he launched to promote recycling in Norfolk.
By Sarah Lagan