Telegraph and Birmingham Mail win Plain English awards

The quality of the writing in the Daily Telegraph and the Birmingham Mail newspapers will be honoured today when each newspaper collects a prize at the Plain English Campaign annual awards.

The Telegraph, which has been voted as Best National Newspaper in the Plain English awards, was praised by judges for the “clarity and honesty” of its journalism.

The judging panel said the Telegraph Media Group newspaper had an appealing “simple, straightforward style” and commended it for being “clear and attractive without resorting to jargon and complex phrases and terms”.

Trinity Mirror‘s Birmingham Mail will collect the Best Regional Newspaper prize after judges praised the paper for its “clean, concise writing, its visually appealing layout and its use of good headlines” concluding that this made for “a newspaper which is interesting, engaging and, above all, enjoyable to read.”

The Plain English Campaign has been running since 1979 to counter jargon and misleading public information and each year presents awards for the best and worst examples of English.

The Campaign will today single out business secretary Lord Mandelson analysis of the way the Government was being criticised for its “gobbledegook” prize.

Judges have awarded him their 2009 “Foot in Mouth” prize after the Labour peer talked himself into a corner in discussing MPs’ expenses by saying:

“Perhaps we need not more people looking round more corners but the same people looking round more corners more thoroughly to avoid the small things detracting from the big things the Prime Minister is getting right.”

The Metropolitan Police was also criticised – the campaign handed the force its “Kick in the Pants” award for “continuing use of jargon and gobbledegook”.

The Department of Health was given a “Golden Bull” after saying on a website: “Primary prevention includes health promotion and requires action on the determinants of health to present disease occurring. It has been described as refocusing upstream to stop people falling in the waters of disease.”

American Airlines was also given a Golden Bull award for sending a passenger a “Property Irregularity Receipt” – which the judges described as “an acknowledgement sent to a passenger that avoids the real problem of lost luggage”.

The Scottish police federation was praised for voting to use plain English throughout the force while the Royal British Legion was award with a “Plain English” award for its use of language in fundraising information.

This year’s awards will be presented today by comedian Lenny Henry at a ceremony in London.

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