I have now recovered from a cracking day at the Regional Press Awards yesterday. It is the first time I have attended the awards since I stood down as Chairman of the Judges in 2011. I am delighted to say they are in good hands with the Society of Editors. Well done to Bob Satchwell, Paul Horrocks, Sue Ryan and all. From a personal point of view it was a real pleasure to catch up with (increasingly) old faces and enjoy a glass or two in the sunshine afterwards. It was particularly nice to have a pint with Shamus Donald, MD at the Oxford Mail, who was instrumental in bringing about my deal to buy the Westminster Press Training business 19 years ago. I guess I owe him more than just a drink.
The breakdown of winners was reasonably spread across the industry. If we include the Journalists’ Charity Award, the Chairman’s Award and the Making a Difference Award, there were 26 ‘Oscars’ in all, with Local World taking pole position.
Local World 6
Cumbrian Newspapers 4
Trinity Mirror 4
Johnston Press 3
Midland News Association 2
New Journal Enterprises 1
Press Association 1
Well done to all the winners, the highly commended and everyone who was nominated. It is a great achievement, just to be shortlisted There was probably no better way to spend a sunny spring Friday afternoon - especially as it was my birthday. Here are my musings on the day.
i) Presenter Nick Ferrari is a gem. He understands the business, he goes off script, he is irreverent but respectful and very funny. He just gets the tone spot on. I was going to say he is real value for money ... but he actually donates his services for free.
ii) As Ferrari observed, the Regional Press Awards have a very different atmosphere to the national awards. At the national bash you have tabloid v tabloid, tabloid v broadsheet, papers as polarised as the Daily Mail and The Guardian and some personal rivalries too. Who can forget the fisticuffs between Piers Morgan and Jeremy Clarkson? And I well remember the diplomacy required at the 2011 event when The Guardian was shortlisted for Scoop of the Year for exposing the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World. At the regional awards there are no such rivalries and few geographical head to heads. Instead the room is full of passionate and talented people facing the same challenges. It really is an event where people from different newspapers genuinely respect and like each other.
iii) Three individuals were singled out for special attention. They were:
The Venerable David Meara, who is retiring in July as Rector of St Bride's after 14 years. St Bride’s has long been the spiritual home of journalism and under David’s tenure the links have been strengthened. It was good to see that recognised yesterday.
Deric Henderson, PA’s Northern Ireland editor who is retiring after 45 years as a journalist. Deric has covered every major terrorist-related incident and political development since the troubles began in 1968. There is an excellent BBC interview with him here.
Peter Barron, who has been editor of The Northern Echo for 15 years. He was presented with the Journalists' Charity Award for an outstanding contribution to journalism. Peter has achieved many things - Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Durham, an MBE, successful author, fundraiser and ambassador of a children’s hospice. But it was for the Echo's remarkable campaigning track record that this award was presented.
Great recognition for three very different, but richly deserving, people.
iv) Peter was, though, responsible for the worst joke of the day. Receiving his award he said: "It’s been a privilege for me to edit The Northern Echo, a great paper with great traditions and some great editors. Harold Evans, of course; William Stead who died on the Titanic; William Stead’s predecessor, Peter Sands." Ha bloody ha! I ask you, is that any way for a Deputy Lord Lieutenant to behave? You can watch him here.
|Anna Draper's photo of Ryan Smith|
v) A far more gracious acceptance speech came from the Lincolnshire Echo’s excellent photographer Anna Draper. While others prudently thanked their editors and news-editors, and even their MDs, she thanked the families of people who allowed her take deeply personal pictures. She said: “I'd really like to say thank you to the families who let us in. I took a photograph of this boy (Ryan Smith) who was in a coma and they didn’t know what was going to happen to him and that family was brave enough to let people like us to go and take photographs and tell their stories." You can watch her here and check on Ryan’s progress here.
vi) There seems to be no escaping him in my life these days - but even Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley got a mention. The Evening Chronicle has produced some excellent front pages on the mess that is Newcastle United and they led to Gary Beckwith winning designer of the year. Gary publicly thanked Ashley for providing his paper with some amazing stories. I have been struggling to think of Ashley qualities I admire but at last I have found one ... being the inspiration for great newspaper design. You can watch Gary's wine-fuelled acceptance speech here.
vii) The table collections raised £1,727,68 for the Journalists’ Charity. Table 4 - a Trinity Mirror table - raised the most. Well done. The charity is something all journalists need to support. The details are here.
vii) The awards were a fitting swansong for outgoing Brentwood Gazette editor Neville Wilson. His paper won Weekly Newspaper of the Year (Under 20,000) for the second year in a row. I can’t say I’m surprised. I had the privilege to work with Nev during my Northcliffe stint and his paper bristled with ideas, always brilliantly executed. He is off to join the Local World corporate team in London. Kensington’s gain will be Brentwood’s loss.
|Jon Colman receives his award from Nick Ferrari|
viii) There are the same names that come round year after year, proving that the judging process works and that real talent is recognised, whoever the judges might be. This year’s shortlists included many familiar names and previous winners including the Basildon Echo's Jon Austin, Sunday Life’s Ciaran Barnes, the Derby Telegraph’s Robin Johnston, the North Devon Journal’s David Powell, the Craven Herald’s Stephen Garnett, The Northern Echo’s Stuart Boulton, the Croydon Advertiser’s Gareth Davies and the Leicester Mercury’s Lee Marlow. Few, though, can boast the record held by Jon Colman of the News & Star and Cumberland News. He has been on the shortlist for either weekly or daily/Sunday sports reporter every year since 2006. He was weekly winner in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2009 he won both the weekly and daily award. In 2010 he won the daily award, as he did yesterday. Cumbrian Newspapers non-exec director Charlie Burgess tweeted later that 'Jon Colman says he'd give the award back in return for the three points that would have saved Carlisle from relegation.’ That is undoubtedly true.
ix) Jon Colman’s award was just one of four for Cumbrian Newspapers. They included Weekly Newspaper of the year (above 20,000) and Daily/Sunday Newspaper of the year (below 25,000). They also won a highly competitive Front Page of the Year award for an excellent montage by the North West Mail. The group is no stranger to these awards. The Cumberland News retained its title from last year and the News & Star also won the award in 2010. CN, headed up by Robin Burgess, is a relatively small independent newspaper group based in the far North which consistently punches above its weight. Independent and locally-owned newspapers … now there’s an idea.
x) The Lancaster London Hotel was an ideal venue - the food was first rate and the wine flowed. The Victoria pub around the corner was also just the spot to catch up with old friends with beer and sunshine.
The day was a celebration of everything that is still great about the regional Press and its people. Congratulations to everyone involved - and long may they continue.
The full list of winners, highly commended and videos of the event can be found on the Regional Press Awards website.
All pictures taken at the awards are by Nick Carter, MagStar Ltd.