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London Press Club Awards 2016

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The Daily Mail was crowned Daily Newspaper of the Year for the fourth time at the recent London Press Club Awards. The Times took the newly-created Weekend Newspaper of the Year title. Journalists from ITV, Sky, BuzzFeed, The Spectator, The London Evening Standard and the Mail on Sunday were among those honoured.

The glittering awards ceremony, held at the Corinthia Hotel, was packed with editors, journalists and presenters from the world of print, broadcast and digital media. The compere, BBC News presenter Kate Silverton, started by thanking the assembled audience of news gatherers – on what was her first day back at work – for “keeping me sane” during two years maternity leave.

Quoting the judging panel, she said that the Daily Mail’s “vigorous campaigns” and “star-studded roster of columnists” made the paper stand out among its competitors as “the one not to be missed”. The judges also praised its sports section and “strong opinion that makes grown men quake”.

“If it’s not in this paper, it probably didn’t happen,” said one member of the judging panel.

Accepting the award, the newspaper’s fourth in 11 years, editor-in-chief Paul Dacre paid tribute to the high quality of journalism in Britain, declaring that, at its best, it is “better today than it ever was”.

“Our industry is populated by incredibly dedicated and hard-working people, many in the regions working on a pittance,” said Dacre. “Indeed, at the risk of blowing our own trumpet, I would like to say that no one works harder than the Mail’s journalists. I am constantly humbled at their selflessness, brilliance and passion for getting it right. I accept this award on their behalf.”

Of The Times Saturday edition, Silverton told the audience: “In a field crowded with excellent writing and comprehensive coverage of everything from politics to sport and finance to lifestyle, the judges thought the winner’s roster of suburb columnists gave the edge over weekend competitors.”

Breathtaking scoop

The awards winners were announced by category, starting with Business Journalist of the year, which was taken by Sky’s Mark Kleinman.

Silverton told the audience: “Sometimes called ‘the scourge of the City’, Sky Business Editor Kleinman breaks news like no other broadcaster on a regular basis and surprises his competitors with his ability to dig out stories many City people wish he wouldn’t.”

Print Journalist of the Year, was won by the Political Editor of the Mail on Sunday, Simon Walters.

Silverton said: “Scoop after breathtaking scoop furnished by the Political Editor of the MoS makes the paper unmissable for those inside and outside the Westminster bubble.”

Digital Journalist of the Year award went to Heidi Blake of BuzzFeed. “In joining Buzzfeed over the last year, Heidi Blake has continued to grow her reputation as a highly formidable investigative journalist and helped the platform on its journey towards being regarded as a serious news site. Her work on breaking the tennis scandal last year not only was a global story, but a powerful indication in how future online media can use data to break huge stories,” Silverton told the audience.

Hotly contested

Julie Etchingham of ITV picked up the Broadcast Journalist of the Year award for her work as one of the solo presenters of News at Ten.

“A news-making interviewer in her own right on ‘Tonight’ and as the moderator of the only election debate in which all the political leaders took part” was what made her stand out to the judging panel.

In the hotly contested Scoop of the Year category, Miles Goslett, won for his expose of Kids Company which was published by The Spectator.

The judges said of Goslett’s work: “In taking on Kids Company and its two prominent mouthpieces, Camilla Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob, Miles Goslett was effectively tackling much of the British establishment. This was a charity beloved by so many in positions of power, not least the Prime Minister’s wife and some fairly powerful BBC top brass, so doggedness – and accuracy – were to be crucial.”

The Edgar Wallace Trophy, in honour of one of Fleet Street’s most famous journalists, was awarded to David Cohen, campaigns editor and chief feature writer of the London Evening Standard.

Chairman of the judges, Bill Hagerty, said: “There was no argument this year when the panel debated whose name should be added to previous inductees of one of journalism’s most exclusive clubs. The career to date of David Cohen made him the outstanding candidate, one whose work has already seen him win the Paul Foot Award, for spearheading the paper’s Frontline London campaign on gangs, and receive two Orwell Prize nominations, for series on The Dispossessed and disadvantaged young Londoners.

“What Cohen has achieved should provide inspiration for all journalism students and those considering working across the news media platforms.”

Earlier Sir Alan Moses, chair of IPSO, rejected the idea of “a defensive press” and championed the cause of robust, “edited journalism” over “the unedited flatulence of the troll online” in his keynote speech at this year’s London Press Club Awards lunch.

Was “all fair and dandy in the world of press behaviour?” he asked several hundred editors and senior journalists gathered at the five-star luxury Corinthia Hotel in London for the annual Awards lunch. “Oh good lord, I sincerely hope not,” he said.

“The thought of a well-behaved press tiptoeing daintily in the park for fear of treading on the pretty flowers in so many illicit beds gives this regulator cold gruel indeed”, said Sir Alan, a former Lord Justice of Appeal and Court of Appeal judge, who became IPSO’s first chair in 2014.

And a thinly-disguised dig at IMPRESS, the self-appointed charity claiming to rival IPSO which was set up with the backing of the majority of UK newspapers, he announced a new category of award – for Regulator of the Year – with IPSO coming second, but “highly commended”.

“The winner is IMPRESS – what regulator could hope to rise to the eminence of a regulator of the Ferret and the Bit of Stone….where few if any complain and where those worthy blogs do what you all ought to learn to do…behave yourselves.  What fun it must be a theoretical regulator. The triumph of theory over practice needs does it not our admiration,” said Sir Alan.

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