Press Awards: Dacre urges press to get on 'front foot'

After a night in which the Mail titles picked up ten prizes at the Press Awards – editor-in-chief Paul Dacre urged the press to “get on the front foot” in the face of the challanges raised by the hacking scandal and the Leveson inquiry.

Dacre personally picked up the prizes for campaign of the year and the Cudlipp Award – for the Daily Mail’s long fight to get justice for Stephen Lawrence – and newspaper of the year, the top prize of the night.

Speaking exclusively to Press Gazette after picking up the newspaper of the year prize, he said: “The Daily Mail is a great newspaper and Britain is a better counry because of the enormous contribution of the newspaper industry. We have got to get out on the front foot and say that.”

He said the danger is that the fallout from the hacking scandal is going to “chill us all into submission” and “that would be very dangerous” adding that the press needs to be more “a bit more confident in proclaiming its virtues”.

He added: “I understand that it’s been a ghastly few months but the great majority of the news industry is honest and there is an awful lot to be proud of… I think the British public has the common sense to take that on board and the politicians have too.”

The other prizes picked up by the Daily Mail were: showbiz journalist of the year for Ben Todd, feature writer of the year for David Jones, columnist of the year and best of humour award for Craig Brown, news team of the year and website of the year for Mail Online.

Craig Brown also won critic of the year for the Mail on Sunday and that title’s long-serving editor Peter Wright, who is stepping down, won the judges’ special award.

After picking up the prize for campaign of the year, Dacre said: “I’d just like to pay tribute to Dorren and Neville Lawrence who are the real heroes of this story. Neville came to see me today and it was a very moving experience. And our message is this is unfinished business, there are still other guilty people.”

Picking up the newspaper of the year prize, Dacre said: “I’d just like to pay the most enormous tribute to all the journalists on the Daily Mail and Mail Online our new very successful equal partner. I pay tribute to their extraordinarily selfless commitment. I pay tribute to their huge professionalism and talent. I’m very proud of them. I’m also very very proud of the British newspaper industry and I’d like to say that for the most part I still believe it’s the greatest newspaper industry in the world.”

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