The Daily Telegraph’s Christine Doyle and group editor of North West London Newspapers, Tim Cole, were both winners in the National Society for Epilepsy’s inaugural Journalist of the Year awards.
Cole’s was a first person, anecdotal piece exploring his epileptic condition, which appeared in all nine NWLN titles.
He said: “Journalists need to understand what they are writing about, but it is a problem finding the standard of expertise, particularly in the regional press. My advice is not to use language that makes epileptic people sound deranged or incapable – be careful with terminology. Labelling someone ‘an epileptic’ makes it sound as if they are nothing but that.”
Cole’s article advised people how to deal with someone having a seizure or absence triggered by epilepsy.
Doyle’s article, which won the national category, focused on the high fat or ‘ketogenic’ diet being researched as a possible means of reducing epileptic seizures in children by specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
As well as giving the personal perspective, the article drew upon medical knowledge, including quotes from specialists – aspects encouraged in NSE’s judging criteria.
The charity launched the competition during National Epilepsy Week in 2003 to promote responsible reporting about the condition. Around 40 journalists entered the awards, which will continue to run this year.