British Press Awards 2010: The live blog

It’s that time of year again. This evening the Grosvenor House hotel will play host to the British Press Awards where the great and the good of Fleet Street will be lauded for their year of selfless endeavour by around 800 friends and colleagues.

Tuxedos and evening gowns have been to the dry cleaners, shoes shined and bon mots polished for the event, which this year will be hosted by John Humphrys.

Press Gazette contributor and former newspapers correspondent Patrick Smith will be live blogging for Press Gazette here on The Wire blog from 7.30pm.

You can also find out who has won what as it happens by following Press Gazette on Twitter. A full list of winners will then be published on the Press Gazette home page at 11pm tonight.

Best of luck to all those nominated…see you back here at 7.30pm.

22.38: If you couldn’t make it to Grosvenor House, listen to Boris Johnson’s typically witty speech here…

23.25: So, it’s the Telegraph’s night. TMG goes home with best paper, journalist of the year, campaign of the year, scoop of the year (deep breath), political journalist and best special supplement. An astounding return for any individual title and – most here would agree – much deserved after a year in which the Telegraph dominated the news agenda with exposure after exposure of previously hidden practices by MPs.

Don’t forget, however, that’s it’s also a good haul for News International, whose four national titles go home with seven awards to polish.

23:15: Newspaper of the Year – Daily Telegraph. No surprises there and the announcement was met with warm applause from rival titles. “It would be a travesty to give this award to anyone else,” said the judges. This award was voted for by more than 100 judges – everyone that contributed to the judging panels.

One judge, an editor, said it must have been difficult and have taken much courage to run a series of stories based on information obtained from a clandestine source.

Will Lewis thanked the Guardian, in satirical reference to the news that GMG CEO Carolyn McCall is on her way out of Kings Place. On the award, Lewis said: “It is a very big surprise, we are very honoured… If there was ever a story that proves that news still sells newspapers, this was it.”

Despite all those awards, Humphrys asked, perhaps not entirely seriously: “I’d like to know what they’re going to do for the follow-up.”

23.15: Journalist of the Year: Will Lewis, editor-in-chief, Telegraph Media Group.

23.10: Special award: Heather Brooke. A real crowd-pleaser, the American-born investigativate journalist picked up a specially created prize – acknowledging the fact that before any national newspaper fully understood about the abuse of MPs’ expenses, Brooke was fighting her way through Information Tribunals and the High Court to get to the truth. She said:

This event has always been divisive but the way the media market is today… We have to aknowledge where we have done things right. I don’t begrudge the Telegraph anything and I hope they don’t begrudge me.

23.05: Foreign Journalist of the Year – the first of the “premier awards” was given to J. S. Tissainayagam from Sri Lanka,

23:02: Journalists’ Charity Award – Walter Greenwood.

22.55: Now for the big one – Newspaper of the Year, presented by gold medal-winning Winter Olympian Amy Lewis.

22.38: On the Carolyn McCall bombshell from earlier (see entry at 20.36) I understand there will be an official announcement on this tomorrow morning and so far GMG has not denied the story, meaning it looks very likely indeed that she is on the way out shortly.

22.32: Reporter of the Year – Paul Lewis, The Guardian. The second biggest award for individual journalists – an audible gasp met the announcement that this prize wasn’t won by the Telegraph’s Robert Winnett who only seconds earlier picked up the political reporter prize.

Foreign Reporter of the Year – Marie Colvin, The Sunday Times.

22.29: A slight technical problem with the blog, so here are the latest winners…

Political Journalist of the Year: John Humprys says ” I think you may know where I’m going with this” while announcing Robert Winnett as the winner, a driving force behind the paper’s all-conquering expenses scoop.

Specialist Journalist of the Year – Jason Lewis, Mail on Sunday

Campaign of the Year – MPs’ expenses, the Daily Telegraph.

Feature writer of the Year – Tanya Gold, The Guardian. Highly commended: Richard Pendlebury, Daily Mail.

Special supplement of the Year – MPs’ Expenses, The Daily Telegraph. Highly commended: The Sunday Times

Regular supplement of the Year – You, Mail on Sunday, for the third year running.

Cudlipp Award for campaigning popular journalism
: Judges were impressed by efforts from The Sun and Sunday Mirror, but the winner is Andrew Penman and Nick Sommerlad Investigate, from the Daily Mirror.

22.08: Scoop of the Year – No prizes for guessing this one… Daily Telegraph, MPs’ Expenses. The judges couldn’t get enough of the “presentation of the stories, the dogged reporting and the professional handling of the material”.

22.06: Business and Finance Journalist of the Year – Iain Dey, The Sunday Times. Yet another award for News International and Times Newspapers. The judges said Dey “provided the lay readers with an insight into the inner workings of the banking industry which few more serious analysis writers matched.”

21.35: We’re almost halfway through and here are the scores on the doors: News International is a clear leader having taken away six of the nine awards on offer so far. Associated Newspapers has two gongs and PA has picked up one.

21.20: Sports Journalist of the Year: Mike Atherton, The Times. Highly commended: Martin Samuel, Daily Mail.

The judges said this was “a unanimous choice”, praised the former England cricket captain for “tackling subjects way beyond cricket” and said “the brilliance of his writing shines.”

21.19: Photographer of the Year: Stefan Rousseau, Press Association Images.

21.17: Sports Photographer of the Year: Andy Hooper, Daily Mail.

21.15: Showbiz Reporter of the Year: Dan Wooton, News of the World. In their citation, judges said he produced an ‘old fashioned showbiz scoop of the highest order delivered straight out of his contacts book.”

21.12: Interviewer of the Year – Camilla Long, The Sunday Times.

21:10: Digital Innovation – SunTalk, the Sun. Highly commended: The Guardian.

SunTalk presenter Jon Gaunt says: “We don’t need Ofcom, we’ve got an off switch” – a reference to the digital radio station’s position as an unregulated broadcaster.

21.09: Critic of the Year – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail. Highly commended: Craig Brown

Letts said in his acceptance speech: “it’s a great privilege to do politics and threatre, it’s not always easy to tell the difference.” The judges called Letts a “phenomenon always out there trudging theatreland, prolific and highly entertaining.”

21.05: Cartoonist of the Year – Peter Brookes, The Times. A good night for Times Newspapers so far.

21.03: Here it is, the first gong of the evening. Young Journalist of the Year: Sheera Frankel, The Times. Miles Amoore of the Sunday Times was highly commended.

The judges say Frankel’s reports “showed bravery and expertise in a hostile and dangerous environment” had a “global impact”.

20:53: Our host, Today programme presenter John Humphrys, is not a huge fan of online publishing. “Why,” he asks, “would a commuter buy The Guardian if they can download an app?” That was met with some spontaneous applause from Guardian rivals.

But he is a fan of newspapers:

I think we should worry much more about the future of newspapers, national and regional. The papers do things that the BBC cannot and should not do… You are offensive, disrespectful… you don’t care who you upset… We could have never done MPs’ expenses in the way the Telegraph does

Humphrys leads a tribute to journalists who have died covering foreign conflicts, including the Sunday Mirror’s Rupert Hamer, who was killed aged 39 while embeded with US troops in Afganistan.

20.36: Some genuine breaking news we’ve just heard: Sky News is reporting that Guardian Media Group CEO Carolyn McCall is to leave the company and join budget airline EasyJet. Sky News City editor Mark Kleinman reports – without quoting any sources – that McCall is in “advanced talks” to take the job. I’ve contacted GMG for comment. Meanwhile, GMG employees wait to find out if they’ve won any awards…

20.15: London mayor and Telegraph columnist Boris Johnson takes the lecturn to tell some topical jokes – Stephen Byers and Peter Mandelson take his fire, as he delights in congratulating journalists for making Labour politicians look bad.

But he addressed the MPs’ expenses scandal head on and declared, with tongue firmly in cheek: “I’ve come here to say: you’ve won! You’ve bugged our homes, confiscated our porn videos…” He went on: “I urge all of you to put your expenses online tomorrow morning: every dinner, ever bunch of flowers. I urge you!”

20.05: Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford takes the stage and says: “2009 was a difficult year for newspapers’ balance sheets but a vintage one for British journalism.” He says that despite the “increasingly fragmented” media environment, British journalism is now reaching more people than ever.

19:45: As the massed hacks and editors take their seats for dinner – menu confirmation is imminent – let’s study the past form. Last year (see 2009’s winners here), The Times picked up the prized Best Newspaper gong, with FT and Mail on Sunday journalists doing particularly well.

But this year many are tipping Telegraph Media Group to do well after its MPs’ expenses investigation: TMG jointly leads the field for nominations with Guardian News & Media, both on 19. Can hold on to its Best Website crown, having held the title since its creation at the 2008 awards?

And who will triumph in the hotly contested Reporter of the Year category? I can’t remember a stronger field of entrants for this prize…

19.25: The room is filling up and the champers stocks are being depleted fast. There isn’t another event on this scale that brings the whole of Fleet Street’s top brass together – so there are a lot of greetings being exchanged between colleagues, former colleagues and rivals alike.

The excitement is palpable, but not for everyone. Mirror Group Newspapers’ digital content director Matt Kelly says via Twitter that he would be here, “except it’s Eastenders on the box.”

18:48: So we’re here at the Grosvenor House hotel for the British Press Awards 2010 – I’ll be chronicling all the speeches, winners and menus as they happen between now and 11pm and adding some on-the-spot reporting where possible.

Guests are arriving, sampling the champers and making their final calls to the newsdesk before they descend to the Grosvenor’s mobile signal-less Grand Hall to enjoy the night.

And here’s this blog’s first scoop of the evening: the three final “premier” awards – Newspaper of the Year Journalist and International Journalist of the Year – will be presented by special guest Amy Williams, the gold medal-winning Winter Olympian who hurtled to glory on the skeleton bobsleigh in Vancouver.



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