Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Press Awards - a night to remember

The winners on stage
It was the Press Awards last night. And while most hacks were beavering away putting together the editions that covered another terrible day of terrorism in Europe, some of the great and the good were allowed out at London’s Hilton on Park Lane. It was a nice evening. The Mail on Sunday took the Newspaper of the Year award - well deserved given the range of exclusives it broke during the year.  As always, the night was a real celebration of the best newspapers in the world and an opportunity to catch up with old faces. Here are my musings on the night.

i) DMGT were the clear winners. Mail on Sunday collected six winners’ awards - including Newspaper of the Year. The Daily Mail won two awards and Mail Sport (which crosses all titles) also won Sports Team of the Year. There were also highly commended awards for both the Daily and the Sunday. The Times and Sunday Times also had a good night. The Times collected four winners awards and the ST, three. The Sunday also had an amazing five commendations and daily, fourThe Guardian also scored well - five wins and two highly commended. 

ii) The full breakdown of last night's award winners is: Mail on Sunday 6, The Guardian 5, The Times 4, The Sunday Times 3, The Sun 2, Daily Mail 2, Financial Times 2Daily Telegraph 1, Daily Mirror 1, Mail Sport 1, The Independent papers 1, Freelance 1. Well done to all. As I mentioned last year, in the last 16 years the only red-tops to win Newspaper of the Year have been the News of the World (2005) and the Mirror (2002). The judges traditionally gravitate towards the heavier papers. It is, of course, difficult comparing red-top story-getters with the writers of the qualities. The Society of Editors has recognised this, separating some categories for the quality and popular papers. A good move. Maybe the sports journalist award should also be among those separated. All of the nominees (except for PA’s Martyn Ziegler) were from the heavies. There are some first-rate story-breakers and writers on the tabloids and it’s hard to believe none were worthy of a shout. 

iii) The distinction between popular and broadsheet isn’t an exact science. The Daily Mail feature writers were in the popular category while the Mail on Sunday was classed as broadsheet. Remarkably the Mail had five of the six nominees in the popular caretgory - which speaks volumes about the quality of the paper’s writers.

iv) There had been some rumblings about the shortage of women in the nominations. Of the 114 nominations only 20 were female, the fewest in six years. in some awards - feature writer (both pop and broadsheet), photographer, cartoonist, sport and business - there were no women nominees. The criticism prompted chairman of the judges and SoE director Bob Satchwell to say: ’We work very hard to make sure the judging panels take account of gender and other diversity issues. Last year we included the Women in Journalism Georgina Henry Award for Innovation, which only women can enter. The real issue is that too few women journalists enter for the awards which is a matter for them and perhaps the papers they work for.’  For the record there were 20 individual awards and six were won by women - including Amie Feris-Rotman who won the Georgina Henry prize. All credit to the SoE that it has asked Sue Ryan to look at the whole issue. Then, as with the Oscars, there is the number of journalists with an ethnic background 

Camilla Long celebrates
v)  The women more than held their own in the acceptance speeches though. Camiila Long’s speech was one of the highlights of the night - spoken from the heart. Watch it here under Interviewer of the Year (broadsheet).

The Indie editors receive the Chairman's Award
vi) The Chairman’s Award went to The Independent, The Independent on Sunday and the i for pioneering work over the last 26 years. Basically, Bob Satchwell congratulated all who served in them and wished them well online and, in the case of the i, under new Johnston Press ownership. It has been an amazing adventure which, hopefully, is far from over. Indie editor Amol Rajan began his acceptance speech with: ‘So, this is the only award we get all night and it’s for shutting a newspaper.’ He too spoke from the heart and dedicated the award ’to the subs’.  Sunday editor Lisa Markwell said the core staff of the paper was 12 … and they were all up for hire. Olly Duff, editor of the i, thanked both his old owners and his new ones. These were the important and emotional speeches. Watch them here.   

Young journalist of the year Tom Rowley
vii) One of the most enjoyable things for me is watching how the careers of those that I have helped train have flourished. These days they include executives who started out 23 years ago, which makes me feel old. Last night the Telegraph’s Tom Rowley won Young Journalist of the Year and Martha Kelner (the Mail and MoS) and Jaber Mohamed (MoS) were nominated. The Standard’s Simon Neville was also nominated in the Business and Finance award. I was particularly pleased to see the investigative unit of the Mail - Katherine Faulkner, Paul Bentley and Lucy Osborne who are all former trainees of the Mail’s scheme - win the Cudlipp Award for the charity cold calling campaign. The judges described it as investigative journalism at its best. Katherine paid tribute to the scheme and thanked the Mail for ‘putting its trust in young journalists’. Nice touch.       

viii) The whipround on each table for the Journalists' Charity raised £2,000. The Guardian’s table won the Champagne for stuffing their donation box with the most notes … prompting Nick Ferrari to say ‘you never know when you might need it’. Ouch. That said, the charity is something all journalists need to support. The details are here

Anyway, well done Bob Satchwell, the Society of Editors' executive director, and his team, including MagStar, and presenter Nick Ferrari. It went off brilliantly. Well done too, to all of those who were nominated. Now we have to do it all again at the regional awards. Ill see you for more celebrations on May 20. 

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