Unfortunately I was unable to attend the CIPR Press and Broadcast Awards last night at the Europa Hotel in Belfast as I was en route to Cork. However, courtesy of Conall, listed below are this year's winners. There was some correlation with the outcome of the Slugger O'Toole Awards last October with David Gordon, the Newry Democrat and the Impartial Reporter figuring.
WINNERS AND COMMENTS FROM THE JUDGING PANEL
1 COCA-COLA CIPR JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: COCA-COLA HBC
DAVID GORDON, BELFAST TELEGRAPH
His body of work shows what a nuisance he made of himself in 2008. Representing trouble-making journalism at its best, his relentless digging in search of the truth is to be loudly applauded. His efforts during the year included a rare sample of every journalist’s ambition - an investigation that produced seismic political shocks in Northern Ireland. As an exponent of good old-fashioned journalism, he got himself banned from an interview with Ian Paisley and that, surely, says it all! He is a determined professional whose undoubted skills deliver the goods day in, day out, helping to make his paper a ‘must read’ throughout the year.
2 COCA-COLA CIPR NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: COCA-COLA HBC
A) DAILY NEWSPAPER AND OVERALL WINNER: IRISH NEWS
A focused newspaper that is full of self-belief and knows exactly what its readers want. It is distinguished by excellent writing and a fully committed and thoughtful choice of lead stories. Original in thought and lively in presentation, its first class coverage and design means this paper is still setting the bar for daily papers in Northern Ireland.
B) SUNDAY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR: SUNDAY WORLD
Brash, punchy and giving its readers exactly what they want, this Sunday paper is a tabloid dream. Unflinching and uncompromising, it is bight and busy with excellent content. It really knows its market and targets it well.
3 COCA-COLA CIPR WEEKLY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE MEDIA MARKET
Bright and lively without forgetting what sells local papers, this is a weekly paper with a great editorial mix. It has good leads, well-written and well-chosen stories, great picture specials and comprehensive local sections. Trying new ways to engage readers - such as the Polish page - shows good thinking and creative ambition.
Special commendation: Impartial Reporter - What would the community do without this amazing, vibrant record of every bit of local life?
4 COCA-COLA CIPR SCOOP OF THE YEAR
KEN REID, UTV
Ian Paisley picked this journalist to announce his retirement on television, refusing to speak to all other journalists until after transmission. The result was a story that travelled round the globe, providing just reward for an interviewer who has spent his career cultivating contacts. This was a genuine scoop - a world exclusive - no one else got near. As one of the biggest political stories of the decade, every news organisation would have been desperate to get it.
5 COCA-COLA CIPR MARTIN O’HAGAN MEMORIAL BURSARY/NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: DIVA & THE ULSTER SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION
A: OVERALL WINNER AND PRINT NEWCOMER: LESLEY-ANNE HENRY, BELFAST TELEGRAPH
This was an impossible task! The quality of newcomers is outstanding and shows just why despite current economic difficulties, journalism has such a great future. Three stood out from an overall impressive entry of the highest standard with amazing range. Talented Gail Edgar has a bright future and Sunday journalism seems to fit her like a glove. Rebecca Black of the Irish News is a modern day story-getter with an instinctive grasp of old fashioned inquisitive determination that is so valuable and important.
But from this classy field Lesley-Anne Henry nosed ahead with a top class portfolio of human interest reporting from Afghanistan about Ireland’s own soldiers and clear evidence in other submissions that she will deliver the goods from wherever the news front line might be. She is determined and hard working. Her reporting from Afghanistan turned a facility trip that can so often produce very ordinary local boy stories into a fascinating human interest snapshot of a regiment at work in a war zone. Her interviewing was comprehensive and her filing prolific proving that everyone has a story to tell so long as the reporter is clever enough to find them. She is a potential star in yet another generation of classy young journalists groomed in Northern Ireland.
B: BROADCAST NEWCOMER: SARAH DOBSON, UTV
The newcomers to broadcasting entries were impressive especially as some were from small commercial radio stations with limited resources. Trudi Smyth of Citybeat and Michael Fitzpatrick of Downtown Radio showed that where there is talent and commitment, quality will overcome any limitations. But best of a strong field was Sarah Dobson. Her pace and articulate reporting demonstrate thoughtful research and scripting and good use of graphics.
6 COCA-COLA CIPR BUSINESS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: INVEST NORTHERN IRELAND
A: OVERALL WINNER AND PRINT BUSINESS JOURNALIST: GARY MCDONALD, IRISH NEWS
Gary McDonald’s journalism fully merits his award this year. His stories, often scoops, are written with insight and verve and are accessible to non-specialist readers. As important, he leads the team at the Irish News in Belfast that provided all the entries for this category of the awards, and which is unmatched among the competition. Sharp business reporting at its best, with facts, figures and context and no wasted words. His focus on Northern Ireland’s undersized private sector is particularly commendable.
B: BROADCAST BUSINESS JOURNALIST: JAMIE DELARGY, UTV
Jamie has again shown his mastery of the short business television report, that conveys perceptive stories with arresting pictures. His entries demonstrate his ability to break stories such as rising energy prices and the looming recession in the Northern Ireland economy.
7 COCA-COLA CIPR CAMERAMAN/CREW OF THE YEAR
MARTIN KELLETT, BBC NORTHERN IRELAND
The quality of this year’s entries is the highest I’ve ever seen. Any one could have been the winner such was the high standard. Martin’s work displayed skill, talent and an energy to make even the mundane interesting.
8 COCA-COLA CIPR CURRENT AFFAIRS PROGRAMME OF THE YEAR
A: OVERALL WINNER AND TV CURRENT AFFAIRS PROGRAMME: A LOST BOY, BBC SPOTLIGHT
Compelling piece of TV - an investigation of a shocking story - which nailed the key interview and exploited it to the full. A classic real-life whodunit, with chilling overtones.
B: RADIO CURRENT AFFAIRS PROGRAMME: GOOD MORNING ULSTER (BBC)
Impressive, comprehensive coverage of the Paisley resignation - every angle was explored and the key interviewees lined up. The Obama piece provided a regional angle to a global story and the singing priests was an enjoyable item.
9 COCA-COLA CIPR FEATURE JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: BELLEEK LIVING
A: OVERALL WINNER AND PRINT FEATURE JOURNALIST: SUZANNE BREEN, THE SUNDAY TRIBUNE
Because it combines so many disciplines: columnists, interviewers and more orthodox feature-writing, this is a very difficult category to judge. There is also, and this is to be welcomed, a higher proportion of entries devoted less to The Troubles and more to rather more everyday concerns. Having said that, the winner shows great empathy and compassion in her interviews, and the prize that that garners is to tease out some very telling human detail. In a battle of two excellent interviewers in which each was a worthy winner, the overall feature journalist of the year - shading it just - is The Sunday Tribune.
B: BROADCAST FEATURE JOURNALIST: KEVIN MAGEE, BBC NORTHERN IRELAND
He is always impossible to ignore, and so is no stranger to the winner’s podium. His winning entries include a stunning conversation with Claire Gallagher, victim of the Omagh bombing.
10 COCA-COLA CIPR MAGAZINE/SUPPLEMENT OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: SARAH B DISPLAY
A: OVERALL WINNER AND SUPPLEMENT OF THE YEAR: WEEKEND (BELFAST TELEGRAPH)
Launching a big supplement in the current market was a huge gamble, but it has paid off for the Telegraph with Weekend. Well constructed, well designed and full of confidence, Weekend can hold its own against the competition in the nationals. Weekend delivers for its readers, its advertisers and its parent newspaper in abundance. It is full of great ideas in its delivery and has proved its worth by lifting circulation and gaining in ad revenue, both of which are great achievements in the current market.
B: MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR: GO BELFAST
Lively, optimistic and full of ideas, Go Belfast reflects young urban life in Belfast extremely well. It is well designed for its market and fills the reader with enthusiasm for all the city has to offer.
11 COCA-COLA CIPR NEWS/CURRENT AFFAIRS BROADCASTER OF THE YEAR
A: OVERALL WINNER AND RADIO NEWS/CURRENT AFFAIRS BROADCASTER: ANDY MARTIN, BBC NI
Andy Martin’s research and imagination lift the usual flat fodder of courtroom quotes to a dramatic plateau, enabling us to feel the fear of the victims. He brings the same qualities to an investigation of some of the world’s officially invisible and tops it all off with a genuine national exclusive. His work displays tenacity, patience and understanding. He spurns cliché for substance, telling his stories in a neat, incisive fashion across a range of styles.
B: TV NEWS/CURRENT AFFAIRS BROADCASTER: DARRAGH MCINTYRE, BBC NI
Darragh does what it says on the current affairs brief, telling us what we did not already know about issues which should concern us. That he does this across a range of topics, from a cold case murder to a family fire tragedy to the controversial Heathrow expansion project, is impressive. McIntyre is an accomplished researcher and storyteller.
12 COCA-COLA CIPR NEWS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR (PRINT)
A: OVERALL WINNER AND NEWS JOURNALIST (DAILIES): DAVID GORDON, BELFAST TELEGRAPH
David Gordon is an investigative reporter who probes complex stories and confronts authority on behalf of the readers of the Belfast Telegraph. A spending controversy involving the police watchdog, an investigation into politicians’ expenses and a series of reports on the Paisleys which shed revealing light on the story and earned him the ultimate accolade - he made himself such a nuisance on behalf of the public that he was banned by Ian Paisley Senior from his farewell interviews. David Gordon is a worthy winner of the award.
B: NEWS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR (SUNDAYS): STEPHEN BREEN, SUNDAY LIFE
Stephen Breen is a great reporter who knows how to capture the attention of readers of Sunday Life. Whether it is a mother who has lost her son in a horrific accident, a woman victim of a gang rape, or a government minister who is unmasked as driving a motorcyle without tax or MOT, Breen tells his stories with maximum impact.
13 COCA-COLA CIPR NEWS PROGRAMME OF THE YEAR
A: OVERALL WINNER AND RADIO NEWS PROGRAMME: CITYBEAT NEWS
Sometimes referred to as the “senior service”, radio has traditionally been the primary source of news for Northern Ireland, not least during the darker days. Citybeat News reflects that heritage, providing a comprehensive picture of life in Belfast. In particular its evening news programme Belfast Tonight exploits an extended format without compromising radio’s essential immediacy. Citybeat News is both comprehensive and punchy. In particular the report on the resignation of Ian Paisley Junior reflects the background, the long-term significance, and the human aspects of a critical political development
B: TV NEWS PROGRAMME: BBC NEWSLINE
The breadth of its coverage and high production values make BBC Newsline a worthy winner. Mike McKimm’s profile of one environmentally aware firm highlights how local companies can innovate to gain competitive advantage.
14 COCA-COLA CIPR NEWSPAPER PRODUCTION JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
FRANCESCA CRAWFORD, IRISH NEWS Francesca Crawford’s clean and sharp designs bring real impact to the pages of the Irish News supplements. Her distinctive style shows real appreciation of colour and contrast and her clever restraint allows proper projection of the images she uses. Francesca’s pages come to life because she is brave enough to embrace simplicity.
15 COCA-COLA CIPR PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: HARRISON PHOTOGRAPHY
WILLIAM CHERRY, PRESS EYE
A great portfolio that shows the photographer’s ability both to create a compelling image, but also to grab one when it appears in front of him. He is in control of every situation. I particularly admired the weather picture and the footballer.
16 COCA-COLA CIPR SPECIALIST JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
A: OVERALL WINNER AND BROADCAST SPECIALIST JOURNALIST: KEN REID, UTV
His delicate interviews with the departing Ian Paisley and the incoming Peter Robinson were an object lesson in the dying art of how to ask important questions in such a way that the subject has to answer
B: PRINT SPECIALIST JOURNALIST: JILLY BEATTIE, DAILY MIRROR
A great idea, especially the decision to have the Young Achievers’ Award in Stormont. The presentation of the articles was first class and the interviews with the participants so well-written as to be often genuinely moving.
17 COCA-COLA CIPR SPORTS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: SPORT NORTHERN IRELAND
A: OVERALL WINNER AND BROADCAST SPORTS JOURNALIST: NIGEL RINGLAND, FREELANCE/ DOWNTOWN/ COOLFM
A versatile broadcaster and journalist whose excellent audio entries for Downtown Radio/Cool FM included comprehensive and entertaining Olympic coverage. Informative, concise and professional. A natural broadcaster with an appealing blend of humour and news sense. Good local angles.
B: PRINT SPORTS JOURNALIST: PADDY HEANEY, IRISH NEWS
An excellent cross-section showed an outstanding ability to produce well-written features, thought-provoking columns and sharp, exclusive stories. A great read.
18 COCA-COLA CIPR NEWS WEBSITE OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: MCI BELFAST
belfasttelegraph.co.uk fulfils all the requirements in this category and then some. As one of their readers says, it’s “Stickin’ Out”. While the accent is on local news, with an interesting and varied selection of stories, it also covers the main UK and world news well. It is well presented with a clear and clean design and is easy to navigate. The news team reacts quickly on local stories and provides well produced video reports, although there are irritating breaks in transmission. The website is well supported by local advertising with links to their sites. There’s a great sense of community with an excellent jobs section that makes it easy for applicants to apply and the facility to notify interested people of similar opportunities. The numbers of comments from readers about stories shows strong local interest. The word NEW in red on the latest news items is helpful.
Special mention: sugahfix.com
Special mention should be made of the bright new fashion and shopping site www.sugahfix.com. It was a breath of fresh air for anyone who enjoys good fashion and shopping and I predict it will soon be on the Bookmark list for Northern Ireland fashionistas. However it didn’t quite fit the criteria in this category.
19 COCA-COLA CIPR WEEKLY NEWSPAPER JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
SPONSOR: PHOENIX NATURAL GAS
LISA RAMSDEN, MOURNE OBSERVER
Lisa submitted a most impressive portfolio of work. Through the two themes of the floods and the tragic death of the police officers, she reported not only on the obvious drama of the actual incidents, but then followed up with a highly commendable, thorough and graphic series of reports exploring the different aspects which arose from these events. She did this in a non-partisan way while still managing to convey the obvious emotion which surrounded both subjects - and to tight deadlines. Lisa is a worthy winner of this category in 2009.