Burton’s best, say media awards judges

Recognition for region’s top media stars.

Tabloid daily the Burton Mail has been crowned as Newspaper of the Year at the Midlands Media Awards – capturing the title from fellow-Staffordshire newspaper the Tamworth Herald, which had won the accolade for the last two years.

Daily Mail columnist and broadcaster Andrew Pierce, who headed the judging panel, said: “The winning title, produced by a small, dedicated team, looks and plays the part of a model local newspaper. It is nicely presented with consistently strong local and community focused content – and the judges also felt it benefited from not being overly designed.”

Now part of the Trinity Mirror Regional stable, the Burton Mail, which covers East Staffordshire, South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire, is edited by Emma Turton. Emma, who started her career at the South London Press, joined the Burton Mail in 2002 after having previously worked at the Nottingham Post and Derby Evening Telegraph.

Birmingham Press Club, which is now celebrating its 152st anniversary, is the oldest Press Club in the world. The Awards are the highlight of the Club’s event calendar. This year attracting more than 200 entries, the Awards take place annually to acknowledge the achievements of the region’s leading journalists, photographers, broadcasters and bloggers.

The full results are:

Blogger/Columnist of the Year: Winner – Anton Rippon, Derby Telegraph. The judges said Anton is a long-standing columnist, who, whether he is in a whimsical mood, deadly serious or downright controversial never fails to entertain and inform.

Business Journalist of the Year: Winner – Enda Mullen, Coventry Telegraph, for a portfolio, which examined the past and future of the Coventry/Warwickshire automotive industry. The judges praised Enda for providing much-needed business coverage in the city and particularly liked his series on the restoration of Coventry as Car City.

Campaign of the Year: Joint winners – Birmingham Mail for Justice for the 21 and Express & Star for Zombie Knives investigation. The judges praised the Birmingham Mail’s long-running pub bombing justice campaign, which eventually forced a change in British law to allow the families of those killed to get legal aid. The Mail impressed with its persistent drive for truth and justice for the victims of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings. They also described the Zombie Knives campaign as one of the most successful ever undertaken by the Express & Star in recent times.

Digital/Online Journalist of the Year: Winner – Caroline Lowbridge, BBC East Midlands. The judges said that Caroline was an outstanding candidate, providing great content and demonstrating imaginative use of the digital medium, one of her entries showcasing her skills as a drone pilot as well as her creativity with text and video!

Feature Writer of the Year: Winner – Richard Ault, The Sentinel. The judges said that Richard had submitted a very strong portfolio, including an exclusive Remembrance Day article about a Staffordshire man killed fighting with the US forces in Vietnam, which resulted in the man’s name being added to the war memorial in his home town of Stoke on Trent

Magazine/Supplement of the Year: Winner – Venture (Kathryn Emerson, University of Worcester). The judges said that Kathrny, a journalism student at the University of Worcester and a broadcast assistant at BBC Radio Shropshire, had produced an outdoor adventure magazine packed with great originally, flair and creativity. A one-woman enterprise from start to finish, crammed with her own features, designs and photographs.

Newcomer of the Year: Winner – Gemma Davies, broadcast journalist, Quidem Radio, encompassing Touch FM, Rugby FM and Banbury Sound. The judges said: “This was a very strong section, reflecting the rapidly changing face of Midlands media with entries from across the spectrum of print, social media, radio and the blog sphere. In her first year as a full-time broadcast journalist, Gemma contributed greatly to a small Newsteam covering five radio stations; one of her main achievements putting together a 30-minute special about a key local issue, the downgrading of hospital services.”

News Reporter of the Year (Daily): Winner – Neil Elkes, Local Government Correspondent, Birmingham Mail. The judges said that Neil had produced a string of exclusives, which not only attracted the attention of national media but also made a difference to the citizens of Birmingham and held political leaders to account.

News Reporter of the Year (Weekly): Winner – Mike Lockley, Sunday Mercury. The judges said Mike – a man with more contacts than Yellow Pages – consistently comes up with hard-hitting, investigative-type stories, particularly citing his article about an anti-abduction charity

Newspaper of the Year: Winner – Burton Mail.

Radio Journalist of the Year: Winner – Jennie Aitken, of BBC Radio Stoke, for her probe into the use of mamba (psychoactive drugs) in Stoke-on-Trent and the impact of the homeless people who are using it. Also, her coverage of reaction to recent terror attacks and Islamophobia being experienced by some Muslim women.

Story of the Year: Joint winners – Jonathan Gibson of BBC Inside Out West Midlands, for his NHS Repeat Prescription Fraud investigation which prompted national debate and calls for greater scrutiny of the issuing process. And Isaac Crowson, Derby Telegraph’s crime reporter for the Horrors of Aston Hall article, which exposed the horrific sexual, physical and emotional abuse suffered by children at a mental hospital in the 1960s and 70s.

Sports Journalist of the Year: Winner – Lewis Cox of the Express & Star. The judges said Lewis – the first trainee journalist to win a major category at the awards – saw off strong competition from experienced journalists to win with an exclusive about Shrewsbury Town FC being the first football club in the country to re-introduce safe standing. Lewis transformed the Star’s grassroots sports coverage so significantly that he was quickly promoted to cover a League One team.

Television Journalist of the Year: Winner – Jonathan Gibson, of BBC Inside Out West Midlands. The judges said Jonathan demonstrated outstanding investigative journalism by expertly delivering the goods with his investigations into a major flaw in Tesco’s pricing procedures and NHS patients selling their repeat prescriptions at a profit despite the health service being under huge financial pressure.

The Tony Flanagan Photographer of the Year Award: Winner – Richard T Harris, of Central Independent Newspapers, whose portfolio included a Tamworth Herald front cover shot of the famous Shrove Tuesday Ball Game in Atherstone.

The President’s Award: (Chosen from the category winners) went to Mike Lockley – the man whose keyboard never goes cold – of the Birmingham Mail/Sunday Mercury. For sheer all-year-round consistency, entertainment value and ability to capture the reader’s interest.