Sun editor David Dinsmore has claimed that the 2012 Leveson Inquiry has left a “layer of secrecy in British public life that a banana republic would be proud of”.
Speaking at the National Association of Press Agencies Awards he also revealed that, unlike the Daily Mail, The Sun is targeting a UK rather than global audience with its website.
The annual awards celebrate the best news agency journalists. Winners included Aaron Sharp, who won exclusive of the year for an interview with a mother and daughter who went to the aid of murdered soldier Lee Rigby.
Dinsmore presented the awards and attended as guest of honour along with his wife on Friday night in central London.
He said: "The relationship between newspapers and agencies has always been key. There will be fall outs, there will be rows, there will be fights – but ultimately we both need each other and never more so than at a time of incredible change and transition in our industry.
“For all the talk of digital this and smartphone that, the one truth that remains is – it’s all about the stories. This will ultimately be the one thing that saves us.”
Dinsmore was appointed Sun editor last June and he spoke of the radical way the job has changed.
“As recently as two years ago my job would have been involved with putting stories in a printed newspaper six days a week. We had a website, but it was largely facsimile of our printed edition…
“Now we have print seven days a week, a subscription-only website, smartphone app, tablet app, we own the rights to near-live highlights of football, rugby and cricket, we have TV studios on the editorial floor – all set in the context of falling circulation and the attendant falling revenues.”
He also alluded in his speech to the Leveson Inquiry, which reported in November 2012, and to the series of police investigations which have seen at least 63 journalists arrested in the UK over the last three years, including 23 from The Sun.
He spoke of “… a judicial inquiry into our industry that’s created a layer of secrecy in British public life that a banana republic would be proud of and a police investigation that should send a chill down the spine of every journalist in the country.”
Dinsmore described the current commercial environment as the toughest in centuries, adding: “Nobody’s quite worked out what the best way forward is but I will say that I don’t think free is a particularly good business model. Not only does it devalue what we put our hearts and souls into, it also offers scant reward for the lengths agencies go to up and down the country.”
He said: “This time of change is also a time of great opportunity. People are always saying to me how the internet must give The Sun a fantastic chance to grab a global audience, many of our rivals are opening offices around the globe. Frankly I’d rather concentrate on the 60 million potential readers on our doorstep and this is where the network of news agencies up and down the country has such a crucial role to play.
“The great advantage of being here tonight is I get to make a pitch to each and every one of you. The Sun is open for business, we want the best stories, the best pictures and we want them exclusively.
“The Sun has to be famous every day for something, I like to think that our friends around this room can help us do this several times a week."
Full list of winners for the 2014 NAPA awards:
Exclusive News/Sports Story of the Year
Aaron Sharp, Ferrari Press Agency, for exclusive interview with Angels of Woolwich mum and daughter who went to murdered soldier Lee Rigby's aid
Spec News/Sports Story of the Year
Nicola Fifield, Ferrari Press Agency, for numerous eyewitness accounts from scene within hour of Lee Rigby's murder in Woolwich
Feature Story of the Year
Kim Willis, Phoenix Features for: "I gave birth in a Thai prison"
The Kevin Fitzpatrick Award
Alex Whitehead, Simon Wilkinson Pictures for Tommy Makinson try in rugby league
Picture of the Year (UK)
Greg Morgan, Solent News and Photo Agency for red stag covered in bracken
Picture of the Year (Rest of world)
Marko Korosec, Solent News and Photo Agency for a tornado alley in Texas
Sports Picture of the Year
Alex Whitehead, Simon Wilkinson Pictures for Sam Burgess in the rain
Best News/Sports Picture, published online
Alex Whitehead, Simon Wilkinson Pictures for All Blacks doing the Haka