Winners and judges comment on Press Awards successes

By Dominic Ponsford, Sarah Lagan, Colin Crummy and Zoe Smith.

Business and Finance Reporter of the Year
Hamish McRae, The Independent

Hamish McRae thanked the “wonderful subs who catch our cock-ups” in his acceptance speech.
He said: “The Independent has a great business section and we work as a group of friends and anything I do is just a little kearn on the top of the pyramid built of this group of friends.”

McRae has worked on both Guardian and Independent business desks and said: “I fell into business journalism when I was a kid, it just seemed to me a very worthwhile way of spending your times.”

Showbusiness Writer of the Year
Victoria Newton, The Sun

Three time nominee Victoria Newton started her career through the Daily Express training scheme which sponsored her study at City University. She graduated unto the showbiz desks on the Express, the People and the Sun.

“I happened to have a knack for going out to showbiz parties and getting stories,” she said. “I liked going to nightclubs and getting stories so ended up doing showbiz.” She has been Bizarre editor on the Sun for almost three years.

Recently banned for life from Hollywood hotel Chateau Marmont for her celebrity expose on the post Oscars parties there, Newton said her favourite story of the last year was her scoop on Kate Moss dating Pete Doherty.

“I got a call from a source saying ‘You’ll never guess who Kate Moss got off with last night? Who is the most disgusting rocker you know?’ And I couldn’t think and the source said, ‘Pete Doherty’", Newton said.

"Nobody believed it until they got photographed together and it ended up dominating the news.”

Columnist of the Year
Lucy Kellaway, The Financial Times

“A fresh and original voice in a conventionally male world, Lucy Kellaway comes across as engaging, witty, entertaining and most importantly, interesting,” the judges said. “She pricks the pomposity of management and provides a welcome voice of normality and humanity in the pink pages.”

Kellaway has been at the FT for 21 years. After university she went to work for a bank and never thought she would enter journalism. She recently started a new business agony aunt column.

She said: “I never thought I wanted to be a journalist, I drifted into it by accident. I thought it might be more fun than banking. I have always wanted to be an agony aunt so I’m loving that and there’s a big response from readers.”

Before that she set up a fictional column called Martin Lukes which has been running for six years. She said: “We deal with things like people being bullied by their bosses. It’s very different for the FT; it’s sort of the FT’s Bridget Jones.”

Supplement of the Year
Observer Food Monthly, The Observer

The judges felt that “if any entry totally fulfilled the criteria of it’s category, this is it.”

“Strong production values, originality, brilliant content and a vision that adds great value to its host newspaper. With striking photography and intelligent writing, this magazine has taken a specialist subject and made it compelling reading.”

Photographer of the Year
Edmond Terakopian, freelance

The judges said that Terakopian’s images of the 2005 London tube bombings “captured with impact and sympathy the chilling horror of ordinary people caught up in the terror of a bomb attack”. Terakopian thanked the Press Association for syndicating the pictures in his acceptance speech.

The judges gave special mention to Brian Griffith of the Sunday Times for his “world class” pictures “in their use of lighting, composition and their sheer ambition”.

Interviewer of the Year
Rachel Cooke, The Observer

A graduate trainee at the Sunday Times, Rachel Cooke worked on the Telegraph before joining the Observer.

Cooke felt her interview with Hunter S. Thompson’s widow helped her win in what the judges called “an extremely competitive category”.

She said: “I think what helped me was a little bit of a scoop. I did the first interview with Hunter S. Thompson’s widow; I think it wasn’t so much the writing as getting there I imagine. I wouldn’t say it was my biggest achievement this year but it’s the one people noticed.”

The judges comments included: “A beautiful interviewer with the ability to expose the subject subtly and without cruelty.”

Asked where she’d put her award, Cooke said: “If I had won an Oscar I’d put the award in the loo wouldn’t I? So I think that’s where I’ll put it.”

Cartoonist of the Year
Gerald Scarfe, The Sunday Times

The judges said: “This cartoonist has delivered the goods consistently for many years. His distinctive style and incisive barbs go straight to the highly effective point. His submissions were funny and beautifully drawn. An institution on Sundays.”

Specialist of the Year
Michael Smith, The Sunday Times

Specialist reporter of the year Michael Smith from the Sunday Times was praised for his ability to "stick with the news in the face of official resistance".

The judges said: “Not only did the winner maximise his specialist knowledge and contacts, he resolutely stood his ground in the face of hostility from both the military and political establishment.”

Smith said: "Under the current government and the way that ministers are so obsessed with what the press write about rather than doing their own jobs there’s been enormous on the press and it hasn’t bowed to it. That’s something that’s kept this country going in terms of opposition in the last five, six or seven years."

In his acceptance speech, Smith added that he was sad the Mail and Telegraph groups did not attend the ceremony.

Young Journalist of the Year
Lucy Bannerman, The Herald

Lucy Bannerman was praised for her versatility by the judges and the quality and breadth of her writing “from genuine agenda-setting news though gripping crime backgrounder to exceptionally mature foreign reportage”.

Bannerman’s story on the Scottish Executive’s failure to follow through on a promise of financial aid to a Scottish charity working in Malawi led to an overnight change of heart by the government.

Bannersman said: “As a result 40,000 extra children are being fed because of the money they got. I found out about the story through a contact I had that I met through a story in Uganda, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow at Scottish International Relief.”

The judges said she showed “extraordinary talent and tenacity to track down, confirm and write a great story.”

Bannerman started out on the student paper while studying at Edinburgh University before doing to do a post grad course at Glasgow. She has left the Herald this week in the hope of making it in London.

Cudlipp Award
News of the World – ‘What about the victims?’

Ian Kirby, political editor and Ian Edmondson, news editor of the News of the World accepted this award for the paper’s victims of the London bombs campaign.

Kirby said: “The 7/7 bombings showed the victims had been promised a lot of help by the government but they hadn’t actually delivered on it and we were the first paper to get in their ribs and show they had a duty to take action, that’s why we got so stuck in.”

He added: “The 7/7 bombings showed the victims had been promised a lot of help by the government but they hadn’t actually delivered on it and we were the first paper to get in their ribs and show they had a duty to take action, that’s why we got so stuck in.”

The late Hugh Cudlipp’s widow, Lady Cudlipp, presented the award.

Foreign Reporter of the Year
Hala Jaber, The Sunday Times

Hala Jaber – winning this award for the second year running – asked for local journalists losing their lives in Iraq to be remembered. “To be honest I was very surprised to win a second time. I was like a child I suddenly wanted it but not for me but for those in Iraq,” she said.

Jaber was praised for showing “exceptional courage in her pursuit of groundbreaking Iraq stories” and in particular her meeting with some of the country’s most dangerous insurgent leaders.

Jaber said: “Sixty-four journalists have been killed in Iraq, the highest number of any conflict in the world, even Vietnam. Some people are missing and my really good friend Atwar Bahjat died a few weeks ago. She got picked up, taken, god knows if she was tortured and killed. A few weeks ago I lost it when I saw her face staring at me on a screen.

“She put her life on the line because she believed in it. I believe in it as well, we have to. It’s horrifying and scary out there but if we don’t go then we don’t get to hear about it here – that’s the bottom line. “

Judges gave particular praise for a piece about the sniper in Baghdad which demonstrated “a fantastic eye for news”.

After sneaking into Fallujah, Jaber found the coalition forces had “destroyed the city and haven’t built a single house they haven’t done anything about it and people are angry”.

“They one day will look back and say ‘where did these terrorists come from?’ well they come from that,” she added.

Sports Photographer of the Year
Tom Jenkins, The Guardian

“A photographer with a consistently brilliant eye and the ability to catch the moment…be it a spectacular move in a game, the realisation that “it’s all over” or the raw emotion of a celebration,” was the judges’ conclusion on Jenkins’ work. They added that this was the most compelling set of pictures they saw, capturing the great drama of key sporting moments.

Sports Journalist of the Year
Oliver Holt, The Daily Mirror

The judges were looking for first-class agenda-setting journalism that gave the best insight into sport in 2005 and praised second time winner Oliver Holt for his “in-depth reports, strong opinions and an unflinching attitude towards the uglier face of sport”.

A Mirror writer for four years, Holt said his sports highlight from the past year was watching Liverpool win the European Cup Final in Istanbul. “It was just unbelievable. It was just one of those events and you get quite a lot of that in sports journalism, if you like sport, where you find yourself at events where you feel really privileged to be there.”

The judges said Holt’s report of the European Cup Final was “brilliant”.

Critic of the Year
Jay Rayner, The Observer

In a diverse and strong shortlist of contenders, the judges felt that “for consistently fresh and informative writing and a distinctive voice in a crowded market, Jay Rayner leads the field”.

Team of the Year
Daily Mirror, the 7/7 London bomb attacks

In a category with three nominations for coverage of the London bombings, the judges felt the Daily Mirror’s work “highlighted the human tragedy of the day”. Mirror reporter Jeremy Armstrong said: “It was the biggest news event of the year and we incredibly privileged to win the award. The Mirror has a tradition of great team reporting and I genuinely think that shows with a big news event. We have a great deal of respect for each other as individuals.”

Political Journalist of the Year
Francis Elliott, The Independent on Sunday

Francis Elliott made the revelations that David Blunkett had broken the ministerial code which caused him to resign from the cabinet for a second time.

The judges said: “Francis Elliott not only brought down a Cabinet minister with his expose, he wrote compelling background and comment that displayed the very essence of political journalism.”

Elliott said: "I’d like to thank the clerk of a committee who answered a question in a straight way."

Feature Writer of the Year
Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times

Third time winner in the category, Appleyard proved himself “a master of journalistic endeavours” in the eyes of the judges with strength in cultural polemic to political profile, scientific investigation to incisive reportage. A journalist for 32 years, he started on the Wimbledon News and still writes occasional news stories for the Sunday Times. “But you die sooner if you’re a news reporter – featuring writing is more relaxed,” he said.

Appleyard said he enjoyed his story on the rebuilding of St. Pancreas station. “We all talk about big celebrities and big stories but these people are just doing nice things that make our lives better and I like to write about them.” The judges agreed: “A man with the outstanding ability to make engineering sexy.”

Reporter of the Year
Oliver Harvey, The Sun

“Strong, brave reporting of stories that matter from places where others fear to tread,” was the judges’ view of Oliver Harvey’s work.

Harvey said: “We didn’t pay for any of the stories, they weren’t pay-ins; we generated them ourselves. We brought Birhan Woldu over for Live Aid, we broke the call centre story ourselves, the getting a passport in Albania story, the Blunkett story – all through good contacts and good journalism.”

Front page of the year
The Sun, ‘Harry the Nazi’

In what Sun reporter Jamie Pyatt described as a “marketing coup” the Sun refused to sell the photograph of Prince Harry in his Nazi uniform and told the media it could only use the picture if it used the whole front page.

Pyatt said: “It was good timing, just a couple of weeks before the 60th anniversary of Auschwitz prince Edward was due to go over and represent the queen and the fact that Harry could turn up dressed as a Nazi at such a time elevated the insensitivity. It was a sensational picture that quite rightly got front page headlines around the world.”

Newspaper of the Year
The Guardian

All national newspapers were automatically entered into this open category and, for the first time, a panel of 130 media figures judged the award in an academy-style voting system.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said: "We took the biggest gamble this year and the biggest risk…so in a sense it’s the richest reward and I’m thrilled to have it."

Referring to the decision to switch the Guardian to the untested Berliner format last September, he said: "The great thing the British has is its variety. When we were thinking about what she should do in shape and form and tone it seemed to us that we ought to offer the public variety – it would have been easy to go tabloid."

The Guardian’s post Berliner circulation gains have yet to wipe out the losses it suffered two years ago when the Times and Independent brought out tabloid versions. But responding to that Rusbridger said: "We have 14 million people a month who come to us free of charge through the website…If you asked any editor maintain print circulation at the same time as giving away a fantastic free offering it would be unrealistic.

"The fact that we are so strong in print and online is going to stand us in good stead for the future. We’ve been through the difficult to decision to buy new presses and go to full colour that others have got to make, so we are set for the next 10 years."

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