It’s a great shame that the short-sellers and hedge fund speculators who are currently talking down media shares could not all have been invited to the Regional Press Awards on Friday. Far from seeing an industry in decline, they would have seen that the proud traditions of campaigning, vivid, punchy local journalism are in good hands in the current cohort of regional newspaper journalists.
They are traditions that go back centuries and will endure long after the city profit-takers are gone and forgotten.
As weekly newspaper of the year editor Malcolm Starbrook, from the East London Advertiser, put it: ‘As long as we’re trusted and are seen as being a truthful local newspaper with everything that goes with that – then that’s what puts the champagne bubbles in my blood stream.”
From the young journalist of the year who posed as a lap dancer to expose a strip-club owner’s vice business, to the Hull Daily Mail’s awesome wrap-around front depicting the city’s flooding disaster, the qualities of courage, creativity and gutsy, scrapping determination which define regional newspaper journalism were on display in spades.
The stand-out moment of the day was an astonishing video message from multimedia journalist of the year Adrian Sudbury – who has leukaemia and may have just weeks to live – and which prompted a highly unusual standing ovation from the assembled journalists.
He used the message as another chance to plug the campaign to which he has devoted what may be the last weeks of his life – urging the Government to make a lesson on bone marrow donation compulsory for all sixth formers. It proves that beyond the profit and loss accounts, journalism can literally be a matter of life and death – in Adrian’s case possibly saving many lives.
Adrian has started an online petition urging the Government to take action on this issue: petitions.pm.gov.uk/bone-marrow