Revamped awards aim to reward 'brilliant journalism'

New events director for British Press Awards vows the night will be something the industry can be proud of

With the deadline for entries to the British Press Awards expiring next week, Press Gazette has appointed a new events director to oversee its awards, as well as a series of other events planned for this year.

Fran Barlow, who leaves her job as marketing and business development director at The Media Trust this month and is a former festival director of the Edinburgh International Television Festival, will start by focusing on an event that has been dramatically revamped following the industry’s unhappiness about it.

Many senior figures felt the British Press Awards had become too commercial, that the event had become too rowdy, and that they wanted to see more transparency in the judging process.

An editors’ forum was set up last year to debate the future of the event, and Press Gazette has made big changes to the format to address all of the concerns that have been raised. Amanda Berry, Bafta’s chief executive, has also been brought in as a consultant.

This year’s ceremony will be held at the Dorchester in Park Lane, a considerably smaller venue than its previous home, despite the high demand for tickets.

No individual categories will be sponsored and the judging process has been beefed up – including an “academy”- style system for the Newspaper of the Year category.

At the heart of the event remains a commitment to honour great journalism across all disciplines of national newspapers.

Barlow said: “The brilliant journalism in national newspapers in this country deserves to be rewarded. I’m absolutely committed to ensuring that the industry can be proud of the event that celebrates the greatest talents in the business.”

Charles Wilson, chairman of the judges, added: “Winning a British Press Award is one of the great badges of honour you can wear as a journalist. I want every journalist to feel completely confident that the judging process is rigorous, fair and transparent and I’m convinced that the system we have in place meets all of those criteria.”

Entries can be sent either by each newspaper, or by individual journalists, using a form available on www.britishpressawards.

com. For queries call 020 7038 1469. The entry deadline is Tuesday 17 January and the event is on Monday 20 March.


A small number of newspapers are still undecided, for different reasons, over their commitment to this year’s event.

Yet it would be a great pity, when so much effort has gone into addressing industry concerns, if some of the best journalists in the business were not able to have their work assessed alongside that of their peers.

Press Gazette magazine does benefit from the awards being a success. But we believe the industry benefits too, from an independent and credible event that can show in a positive light the vital role that our national newspapers fulfil.

At a time when the industry faces some of the biggest challenges in its history, we would urge all editors to unite in support of an event we can all be proud of – and make sure their great work in 2005 is appropriately rewarded.

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