Departing editors lead regionals to award glory

Cumbria-based weekly The Cumberland News has been named Newspaper of the Year in Press Gazette's Regional Press Awards for the second time.

In
2001, the independently owned title won the top regional press accolade
for its coverage of the foot and mouth epidemic. This time it was
recognised for the way it told the story of Cumbria's worst flooding in
50 years. The News also picked up the Supplement of the Year prize and
sister title the News & Star won Team of the Year for its coverage
of the Carlisle floods.

The awards are the crowning achievement
of a distinguished national and regional press career for Cumbrian
Newspapers editorial director Keith Sutton, who retires from the
industry this year on his 60th birthday. He said: "To take on the
giants of the regional press headed by papers such as the Daily Mail
and the Mirror and to win against the dailies is fantastic. When we won
before, I thought 'well this is as good as it gets', so to win it again
is not so much the icing on the cake but more like 60 candles."

Of
the floods coverage, Sutton said: "We didn't make a spectacle out of
it, we just helped people by putting in the names of recognised
builders and we told people how to restore photographs that had been
swamped in the floods.

We were very practical in our help and we really captured the full drama of it."

Another
editor going out on a high was Barrie Williams, whose Western Morning
News was named Daily Newspaper of the Year. Last week Williams
announced he was taking early retirement from the paper at the end of
July after 10 years as editor because of "a major change of policy and
structure within Northcliffe". It is the third time the Western Morning
News has taken the title under his editorship.

Williams said: "It
sounds corny, but it's a team effort. The team at the WMN is just
fantastic. I think you saw in their reaction how much it means to them."

Judges praised the WMNfor its coverage of the Boscastle floods and described it as "the voice of the West Country".

The
Evening Times in Glasgow was Evening Newspaper of the Year and was
singled out for its successful campaign to save the Queen Mother's
Maternity Hospital and its coverage of the Beslan massacre. Editor
Charles McGhee said: "We have one of the most competitive daily
newspaper markets in the country in Glasgow. All the major nationals
have offices here, staff here and print here. I'm delighted for all the
staff, it's a great morale boost for them."

Judges said Free
Newspaper of the Year, the Camden New Journal, did not behave like a
free paper as it keeps its "huge local council on its toes with
exclusive after exclusive". Editor Eric Gordon said: "This reflects the
fact that we are a truly independent paper. We are so close to
Westminster and Whitehall that we are often the first port of call for
the Government to fly its ideas and we get Government ministers having
a pop at us. It reflects the influence we have in Camden."

The
Hull Daily Mail won Front Page of the Year for its treatment of the end
of the search for 22-year-old Joanne Nelson when her body was
discovered after 39 days. Editor John Meehan said: "The front page was
very unusual. It was a night-time picture in poor conditions of a gate,
but somehow that picture and how we created the page summed up the
tragedy of that story."

Website of the Year was the Eastern Daily
Press's www.edp24.co.uk. Web manager Celia Sutton said: "The editorial
quality is there, but we try to bring extra elements to the website.
People feel that if they ask a question they will get a response."

The
winning newspapers and journalists were revealed at the Hilton Hotel in
London and chosen out of more than 800 entries. The awards were
presented by broadcaster Michael Buerk.

For full results, see supplement with the issue.

WINNERS OF THE INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

Richard Austin, freelance photographer for the Western Morning News, won both the Photographer of the Year and Sports Photographer of the Year
titles. He was up against his son, Matthew, for photographer of the
year. "You can never say you've made it, you are only as good as your
last photo. I was thrilled to be nominated. It's been an uncertain time
at the Western Morning News. I thought we may be on a bit of a downer
at the awards considering the news about Barrie leaving.

I'm freelance at the WMN - it's the only paper to work for in the
West Country as it is picture led. I hope I'll be okay, but it is
uncertain at the moment."

Young Journalist of the Year
Nick Owens, from the Lancashire Evening Post, said: "I am so very
honoured to win this award because I know how highly regarded and
coveted it is. All I have ever wanted to be is a journalist, so to get
an award for something I love doing feels extra special." The award
came with a £1,000 cash prize from the Society of Editors.

Reporter of the Year Chrissie
Harris from the Leicester Mercury has been at the paper for three
years. Her winning entries included an exclusive on plans for a
ground-share at the Walkers Stadium. She said: "I can't believe it, I
came here expecting to have a good day out and this is a bonus. I think
it's down to good contacts and building up a good rapport with people."

The Nottingham Evening Post's Charles Walker, Specialist Reporter of the Year,
revealed that 12-yearolds in the city were being given nicotine patches
to help them stop smoking. He said: "I had a good contact, a local
smoking cessation nurse, who told me she was giving out these nicotine
patches to 12- and 13-year-olds and, amazingly, enough the parents
agreed to let us interview them."

Jenny Chapman, Business and Financial Journalist of the Year,
Cambridge Evening News, said: "I've always tried with business stories
to make them human interest as well, because I think the best human
interest stories are in business, like our story about Prince Andrew's
girlfriend, Amanda Staveley, facing bankruptcy."

Sinead McCavana won Scoop of the Year
for her sensational splash "Top Cop Has Sex Swap", in Belfast-based
Sunday Life. "There were rumours going around that a top police officer
had had a sex change and we approached the police press office, and
they said she was willing to speak to us. I met up with her in a hotel
and we spent three and a half hours together. I think it's an important
story because it highlights how much Northern Ireland has progressed,
that this woman can have a new life and be happy in her job."

Columnist of the Year
was Nicola Barry from The Press and Journal, Aberdeen. Barry said: "I
get really angry about things and write about them - for example,
society's obsession with celebrities and trivia about them. I also feel
that no one is really watching politicians any more. The Press and
Journal is great - they let me really say what I want to say, not
enough papers do that."

The Birmingham Post picked up two awards. Hyder Jawad was named Sports Journalist of the Year and Caroline Foulkes was Feature Writer of the Year.
Foulkes impressed the judges with a piece on glamour model Jordan,
while Jawad was described as "a young writer with enormous potential".

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