Martyn McLaughlin has won the daily newspaper Reporter of the Year title in the UK's Regional Press Awards for a second year in succession, while Edinburgh-based Aimee Stanton, of JPIMedia, is joint winner in the Data Journalist of the Year category. And the Herald on Sunda
y has lifted the Front Page of the Year award for weekly newspapers to give Scotland a first-class hat-trick of top awards to justify a popping of the champagne corks. The Yorkshire Post
and the Western Mail
were voted newspapers of the year in categories differentiated by circulation criteria.
Four Scottish entries earned highly commended status: Catriona Stewart, of The Herald
, in the Columnist of the Year category for daily newspapers; Clarke Cooper, of the Press and Journal
), in the Designer of the Year field; The Courier
, in the Digital Initiative of the Year category, for its inspirational 'Shaped by a River – Tales of the Tay' series; and The Scotsman
, with its stunning 'La Tragedie de Notre Dame', in the Front Page of the Year section for daily newspapers.
This year's awards, once again organised and run by the Society of Editors (SOE), drew a staggering 700 entries in 37 separate categories. The scheduled awards ceremony was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and instead, the results were announced in a very slick, polished, professional presentation via a live online YouTube video event. My congratulations to the SOE's executive director, Ian Murray, and his team, on a very challenging task excellently executed.
Reporter of the year, Martyn McLaughlin, also a columnist, who has written for virtually ever section of The Scotsman
and Scotland on Sunday
, took the top award for a series of arresting articles on the Trump Organisation in Scotland – articles later quoted in multiple US Congress committee investigations into the global business empire of US President Donald Trump.
The judges observed: 'Martyn's thorough investigative work into the nature of the Trump empire's Scottish business interests, characterised by forensic use of paper trails and FOI requests, has produced a series of important exposes. Only one story but what a story – tackling the President of the United States. Good contacts and great digging resulted in a compelling insight into the business dealings of the world's most powerful man'.
As well as his print output, Martyn has also worked recently on a series of broadcast projects – including a documentary series for BBC One Scotland on the Fair Isle, and a BBC Radio Scotland documentary on plans to revive the remarkable footballing heritage of Glenbuck, the Ayrshire birthplace of legendary soccer manager Bill Shankly.
Joint Data Journalist of the Year, Aimee Stanton, works from an Edinburgh base for major UK publisher, JPIMedia, the owner of The Scotsman
and the Yorkshire Post
, and she writes for both daily titles and other JPIMedia newspapers on a regular basis. She explains: 'Telling stories with numbers can be a tricky process and my job is to source and use (often complicated) publicly available data sets to produce exclusive stories for all JPIMedia's titles'.
The judges enthused: 'A data journalist who knows her strengths and works to them. Key stories that needed to be exposed. Three very good reports especially "Generation Trainspotting"'. The Scotsman's
editorial director, Joy Yates, told Scottish Review
: 'Martin and Aimee are worthy winners for their outstanding work'. I found Aimee's role as a data journalist extremely interesting and intriguing, and I will examine in more depth when Scottish Review
returns from its annual summer break on 5 August. Meantime, I wish all my readers good times and glorious weather in the intervening five weeks!
The Herald on Sunday
triumphed in the Front Page of the Year category for weeklies with its stunning, largely typographical 'Choose Something' entry, published in March 2019, urging politicians to set aside party politics to sort out the Brexit issue. The winning newspaper pointed out: 'Our take on the famous Trainspotting
'Choose Life' poster was a simple and striking way to get the message across – and the perfect introduction to a major Brexit report inside'.
Deputy multimedia editor, Damian Shields, who designed the page along with assistant editor, Andy Clark, said he knew the image would stand out on a crowded newsstand, explaining: 'It was a bold move, but the cover managed to visually encapsulate such a complex topic perfectly'. The judges agreed: 'The subject matter... was a front page with real impact and an important message as MPs continued to dither and delay over Brexit. The Trainspotting
theme was both topical in the light of the release of Trainspotting 2
and entirely appropriate to the newspaper's predominantly Glaswegian readership.There's a real sense of anger and frustration pouring off this typographically elegant splash. It reflects a nation inwardly screaming'.
Catriona Stewart, highly commended in the Daily Columnist category, pens three columns a week for The Herald
, and, I am told: 'frequently takes a left-field look at the issues of the day to generate fresh ideas. Her particular interests include politics, culture and feminism'. The judges were much impressed: 'Entertaining and memorable columns that are topical and engaging. This columnist could be transported to any publication, national or regional newspapers or magazines, and still hold pride of place. Clever, funny, reflective and very much of the moment'.
'Shaped by a River – The Tale of the Tay', which earned The Courier
highly commended status, is said in the entry's supporting statement to be: 'The Courier's
answer to the question: what happens when you give journalists time and space to do their very best work? By combining remarkable photos and video with in-depth, passionate writing, and cutting-edge digital publishing, we provided a glimpse of the exciting future ahead for all The Courier
readers – and our staff'. The judges admired it very, very much: 'Amazing content and photography. Clever idea that used the digital age to tell the story of a people. Surprisingly high-quality photography and video interviews. Writing captured the feeling of the river communities and controversies. Presentation far removed from that of an old-style regional newspaper'. To see this entry, Click here
Clarke Cooper earned his highly commended recognition in the Designer of the Year category for magazine and supplements for his creative work on the P&J's
monthly Energy Voic
e magazine. He explains: 'When designing the covers of Energy Voice
I like to go for a more abstract approach. Thinking outside the box is a must, as I want the audience to look at the cover and be desperate to see what's inside. Even people who are not involved or interested in oil and gas will want to pick up an Energy Voice'
The judges agreed with Clarke's self-appraisal, commenting: 'Eye-catching and entertaining front cover designs on what could be described as a dry content subject. Clarke has a clear creative vision which enables his designs to jump off the page. Powerful images, very creative. Shows a good sense of humour allied to imaginative design output. Creates great variety and impact'.
, highly commended in the Front Page category for daily newspapers, said of its entry, 'La Tragedie de Notre Dame', the starkly striking pictorial depiction of the tragic fire which engulfed Paris's iconic cathedral: 'Our bold use of a poster font coupled with a French headline in solidarity served to ensure we stood out on the newsstands. Our front page was featured on the national newspaper reviews as well as on France24
. It's a great example of how a simple but effective idea can promote the work of regional titles onto an international stage'.
And the judges agreed: 'A front page that combined elegance and emotion to make a story that had been playing across all media for many hours feel entirely fresh. A simple but highly effective front page. Brilliantly executed. A very simple, striking front page where the image combined with the words in French said it all'.
The Daily Mail
has surged past The Sun
to become the UK's top-selling daily newspaper while its sister newspaper, the Mail on Sunday
) is now the nation's best-selling Sunday – a seismic change at the top of the country's circulation stakes. I won't go into details of the circulation statistics for each newspaper in the relevant month – May – because of distortion arising from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on sales. However, Dominic Ponsford, editor-in-chief of the influential media industry website, Press Gazette
, proclaims: 'It is a massive achievement for Daily Mail
editor Geordie Greig and his team and it means that while the Mail's
circulation was down 17% year-on-year for that month [May], The Sun
fell even further... The year-on-year decline is severe but taking a glass-is-half-full approach to the figures, it is impressive that the Mail
sold nearly a million copies per day in the midst of lockdown and the collapse of the UK economy'.
Ponsford explains: 'The Sun
stopped releasing a public ABC figure last month so we literally don't know how many copies it sold in May. The Mail
sees The Sun's
figures so was able to cheekily trumpet success... but it is not allowed to share The Sun's
numbers and News UK is tight-lipped on what they actually are'. He adds: 'The future may belong to digital, but print readers remain extremely valuable to all newsbrands. They are the readers willing to walk into a shop, even in the midst of a contagious disease pandemic, hand over their cash and then spend between 20 and 40 minutes reading a newspaper and looking at the ads. So while we shouldn't make too much of this moment, I would not have liked to be The Sun
executive who picked up the phone to Rupert Murdoch and explained why his favourite title's 42-year run at the front of the UK daily newspaper circulation race had come to an end'.
The Daily Mail
commented triumphantly: 'By reaching a magical milestone that would make Lord Northcliffe [its founder] proud: for the first time, we are officially Britain's biggest-selling daily newspaper... it's a seminal achievement. Never before has a middle market tabloid reached the summit'. Earlier this year, the Mail
was voted Daily Newspaper of the Year in the industry's Oscars.
The Mail on Sunday
) was also in celebratory mood after overtaking the Sun on Sunday
to become Britain's biggest-selling Sunday newspaper, emphasising: 'It's the first time a mid-market newspaper has been the market leader on a Sunday since Queen Victoria's reign [130 years] – a profound cultural shift. What's more, the phenomenal global power of our Mail Online
website – visited by 6.5 million Britons every day – means that Mail on Sunday
stories are now read by more people in more countries than ever before'.
It continued, surmising: 'In this frightening new era of intolerance, the MoS
has become a beacon for those who believe in free speech and who refuse to be cowed by the tyranny of the Twitter mob and hard-Left agitators who believe everyone should be forced to think like them'.
Earlier this year, the MoS
was crowned Newspaper of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards and Sunday Newspaper of the Year at the Society of Editors' British Press Awards. The Daily Mail
and the MoS
(both carry the 'Scotland' prefix north of the border) present excellent value in cover price terms: the Daily Mail
is priced 70p on weekdays (Saturdays – £1.10) and the MoS
nostalgically recalls: 'On May 4, 1896, the first copies of a new newspaper rattled off the printing presses and on to Britain's streets: the Daily Mail
. From an unassuming office off Fleet Street, Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe, laid the foundation stones of modern journalism: possessing an unparalleled instinct, his mission was to deliver fresh, bright, accessible, interesting news. To inform and entertain. To hold trenchant views. To embrace family, common sense and patriotism'.
So who says nostalgia is a thing of the past? While not wishing to indicate any particular favouritism, I must declare an interest. I am a regular reader of the Daily Mail
and the MoS
. The Daily Mail
has very largely fulfilled Lord Northcliffe's vision. If I was to pick out the outstanding facets in its mass-appeal, I would point to the strength of its feature pages, its sport, City news and its array of engaging if controversial columnists. And the MoS
is a pretty impressive read on a Sunday, with its feature pages outstanding and two excellent colour magazines.
This pair will take some catching in the circulation stakes. However, that formidable street-fighter, Rupert Murdoch (whose grandfather was once a preacher in Peterhead), absolutely loathes being beaten at anything. He takes a very, very personal interest in the performance of The Sun
. There is intense speculation in the newspaper industry as to just what trick he pulls out of the bag to revive the fortunes of his favourite tabloid. But, to be fair, The Sun
is really not doing that very much wrong in its specific marketplace. It is just that the dynamic duo from the Daily Mail General Trust (DMGT) stable are doing just that wee bit better. Well, for now at least!
The Scottish award winners in the annual Celtic Media Festival Torc Awards for Excellence include: Single Documentary: Nae Pasaran
, Debasers Filums, BBC Scotland, and Sports Documentary: Jocky Wilson Said
, BBC Scotland Multiplatform Productions, BBC Scotland and BBC One Scotland.
JPIMedia has revealed a plan to close 11 newspaper offices in the UK – citing the increased amount of remote working during the coronavirus lockdown in its decision. The bases slated for closure of their offices include the Stornoway Gazette
, the Berwick Advertiser
and the Southern Reporter
The Ayrshire Post's
Sarah Hilley has been highly commended in the Reporter of the Year category in the UK-wide 2020 Local Democracy Reporter Awards – the only recognition for a Scottish journalist.