Mirror editor Morgan receives the National Lottery-sponsored Newspaper of the Year Award from £15m Lottery winners Tom and Rita Naylor
For the full story, pictures and webcasts of the British Press Awards, click here
The impact of September 11 swept the radically altered Mirror to the prize of Newspaper of the Year in the British Press Awards this week.
The judges said it was "the paper that stole the thunder" and that editor Piers Morgan and his team had re-established the tabloid as a "red-top with meaning and depth".
An emotional Morgan acknowledged that the terrorist attack was "the biggest story of our lifetime and probably the biggest I will ever cover". He added: "We just went for it. We had amassed an armoury of journalistic talent that was ready to be unleashed and I knew from the moment of the World Trade Center disaster that this was our chance to prove ourselves as THE paper in Fleet Street."
It was that attitude which also brought his journalists the Team of the Year Award – "a triumph of tabloid journalism" – and brought the paper an especial honour, the Hugh Cudlipp Award for recapturing "the class and integrity that made the paper great", embodying the spirit of the man who moulded the Mirror.
Morgan saw the multiple awards as "a vindication of the policy we followed after September 11, the controversial, rather strident, questioning, campaigning stories.
"I thought, ‘Right, this is our time and we are going to prove that, despite all the sneering at The Mirror in the years after Maxwell, this is our payback’."
September 11 and its aftermath brought awards and commendations for the rest of the press at the Hilton on Tuesday night. The Guardian’s full front-page picture treatment of the story won it Front Page of the Year. The Sunday Telegraph’s Christina Lamb found herself back in Afghanistan where, in 1988, her coverage brought her the Young Journalist of the Year title. This time her news of the conflict saw her clinch Foreign Reporter of the Year award.
On the home front, Fiona Barton of The Mail on Sunday took the coveted Reporter of the Year title for her broad-based portfolio of scoops and interviews.
Scoop of the Year went, however, to Briony Warden of The Sun for her "gasp factor" investigation into the Kilshaws, who bought twin babies on the internet. She didn’t get the final jigsaw piece to her story until the hour The Sun was going to press.
The Guardian won four awards and the Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph three each.
The Daily Telegraph’s Lord Deedes, 70 years in journalism, was given the Press Gazette Gold Award to mark his status as "the reporters’ reporter".
The News of the World boycotted the event in protest at its failure to win nominations and held its own alternative awards – at which it won everything – at the nearby Grosvenor House Hotel. It sent a "fake sheikh" – a trainee journalist – to occupy the two tables it had booked at the British Press Awards.
NoW editor Rebekah Wade said they ate fish, chips and mushy peas out of their rivals’ newspapers as she thanked her 45-strong team.
"We got hardly any nominations. All the feedback we got from the judging process was pretty negative," she claimed. "If Maz Mahmood can’t win Scoop of the Year for the Sophie Wessex Tapes, it is not the kind of event we want to be at. I did not want to put my team through four and a half hours of something that would make them angry."
The NoW was nominated for four categories, including Newspaper of the Year. It has stated it will not enter the BPA again.
lSee the enclosed supplement for details of all the winners.
By Jean Morgan