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Stars shine at Midlands awards

Helen Hoddinott, of Free Radio in Birmingham, receives her award from Diana Peasey

Newcomer of the Year, Helen Hoddinott, of Free Radio in Birmingham, receives her award from Diana Peasey, chair of the NUJ Nottingham branch and NEC representative for the Midlands  -  © Private

29 November 2019

The Express & Star carried off the Newspaper of the Year (Daily/Sunday) trophy at the 2019 Midlands Media Awards, retaining the accolade it won last year.

It beat off strong competition from sister-publication the Shropshire Star and from Reach plc’s Birmingham Mail, Sunday Mercury and The Sentinel, with the judges acknowledging its very high story count, balance of features and hard news, good sports section and exclusive stories.

“There’s an awful lot in the Express & Star – and that’s a great selling point,” said chairman of the judges, Laurie Upshon.

“With more than 220 entries, these awards really do reflect the wonderfully diverse region we serve. There were excellent submissions from across the region which made the judges' jobs extremely difficult, but we were delighted by the quality of work submitted.”

The NUJ, via its three Midlands branches – Birmingham & Coventry, Nottingham and Derby & Burton – jointly provided sponsorship for the Newcomer of the Year category, one of 24 awards presented. The winner was Helen Hoddinott, of Free Radio in Birmingham who triumphed against 11 other entry nominations.

The award ceremony, organised by Birmingham Press Club, was held at Birmingham’s Villa Park to recognise the achievements of the region’s journalists, photographers, broadcasters and bloggers. It also saw last year’s winners, Mark Gough of ITV News Central; Adrian Goldberg, Kick in the Grass Productions/BBC; and Tim Thursfield, Express & Star, retaining their awards.

Mark was named Television Journalist of the Year alongside ITV colleague Phil Brewster who also won Business Journalist of the Year. Adrian retained his Radio Journalist of the Year award in addition to walking away with the Blogger of the Year trophy. Tim Thursfield again took the Tony Flanagan Photographer of the Year prize.

The Birmingham Mail/Birmingham Live team secured two major awards, winning Story of the Year for its coverage of Aston Villa’s championship play-off final and the inaugural Team of the Year award for its coverage of protests outside schools over LGBT equality teaching, while Zoe Chamberlain won News Reporter of the Year (Daily). 

Another new category, for the PR agency campaign generating the most positive publicity, went to Story Comms’ initiative to publicise the UK’s most landlocked “wave park” in Birmingham.

Love Your, the innovative real estate agency co-founded by entrepreneur Bobby Singh, was headline sponsor of the awards, which were also supported by the Wing Wah Group, HSBC UK, UK Pathway, Digbeth Dining Club, Core Marketing, ITV News Central and the National Union of Journalists.

Entertainment was provided by singer Matt Byrne, who delivered a polished performance of easy-on-the-ear songs from the swing era.

Full list of awards

Newcomer of the Year
: Helen Hoddinott, Free Radio.
Verdict: the judges said Helen demonstrated dynamic, well-documented investigative journalism, exploiting her ability across a range of skills. 
Highly commended:  Nitya Rajan, ITV News Central and Yusaf Akbar, BBC Midlands.

Business Journalist of the Year
: Mark Gough, ITV News Central.
Verdict: Mark delivered a strong package of important local stories, in particular his attempts to discover what was going on over HS2 and JLR.
Highly commended: Carl Jones, Shropshire Business/Birmingham Business.

Columnist of the Year
: Toby Neal, Shropshire Star. 
Verdict: Toby was one of the most entertaining and creative of political writers whose columns were full of wit and he tackled subjects from original and unconventional angles.
Highly commended: Fred Hughes, The Sentinel/Stoke-on-Trent Live, and Mike Lockley, Birmingham Mail.

Blogger of the Year
: Adrian Goldberg, Kick in the Grass/BBC. 
Verdict: Adrian provided compact entertainment – short, simple, immediate and authentic. 
Highly commended: Hayley Warren, Strangeness & Charm.

Feature Writer of the Year
: Rebecca Woods, BBC. 
Verdict: Rebecca produced meticulously researched, well-written features and she was commended for her for her doggedness and attention to detail.  
Highly commended: Caroline Lowbridge, BBC East Midlands Online. Jane Haynes, Birmingham Live. Sanjeeta Baines, Birmingham Live/Birmingham Post & Mail.

Campaign of the Year
: Alicia Kelly, Matthew Dresch and Grace Walton, Newsquest/Worcester News.
Verdict: her campaign of support for a five-year-old schoolboy suffering from a rare disease of leukaemia (which ultimately raised £500,000) was a fantastic, outstanding achievement. It demonstrated the emotion that the well-crafted printed word can generate.
Highly commended: Lindsey Alder, Quidem Radio. Ross Hawkes, Lichfield Live. 

Magazine of the Year
: 99 Percent Lifestyle. 
Verdict: an amazing publication with beautiful photographs and artwork and an impressive array of different subjects covered in its features. 
Highly commended: Birmingham Living, Rock Hopper Media.

Supplement of the Year
: Oxford Mail. 
Verdict: the 124-page publication, painstakingly created by a three-man team in their own time to mark the 125th anniversary of Oxford United, would be treasured by its readers. 
Highly commended: The Sentinel/Stoke-on-Trent Live.

Sports Journalist of the Year (Broadcast)
: Ian Winter, BBC Midlands Today.
Verdict: Ian’s three entries, all with a human-interest element, were well filmed and edited – one demonstrating that cricket had the power to change people’s lives. 
Highly commended – Steve Clamp, ITV News Central.

Sports Journalist of the Year (Print)
: Bobby Bridge, Coventry Telegraph. 
Verdict: seeking out good stories was one thing – but Bobby showed he knew how to tell them as well. Compelling pieces of journalism, including great sensitivity when highlighting the mental struggles of a rugby player’s comeback after horrific injury.
Highly commended: Matthew Panter, Tamworth Herald.

Multi-media Journalist of the Year
: Luke Hatfield, Express & Star. 
Verdict: Luke, a skilled and confident journalist, had submitted an impressive portfolio. A highly competent and polished performance. 
Highly commended: Mojo Abidi, ITV News Central. Caroline Lowbridge, BBC East Midlands Online.

Tony Flanagan Photographer of the Year Award
: Tim Thursfield, Express & Star. 
Verdict: his photographs demonstrated a very high standard of professionalism, each with an impact of a different kind, including a “cheeky” head-shot of Boris Johnson. 
Highly commended:  Richard Harris, Richard T Harris/Central Independent News.  Steve Bould, The Sentinel/Stoke-on-Trent Live.

Radio Journalist of the Year
: Adrian Goldberg, Kick in the Grass Productions/BBC. 
Verdict: Adrian’s experience and expertise shone through his recordings, which showed a complete understanding of his audience and his location. Well delivered, engaging – a great listen. 
Highly commended: Polly Bayfield, Free Radio. Simon Gilbert, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire.

Television Journalist of the Year
Joint winners
: Mark Gough and Phil Brewster, both of ITV News Central. 
Verdict: Mark produced high-quality work time after time, while Phil, in taking total ownership of the station’s coverage of a national child abuse enquiry, had reported on a harrowing subject with dignity for all those involved.
Highly commended: Jonathan Gibson, BBC Birmingham. Andy Bevan, ITV News Central

Best Use of Social Media
: ITV News Central. 
Verdict: the winner submitted an exceptionally strong social media offering. Polished posts demonstrated that there was still an important role for established broadcasters on unfiltered social media platforms.
Highly commended:  Christina Savvas, Birmingham Live.

Team of the Year
: Birmingham Mail/Birmingham Live.
Verdict: impressive coverage in print and online of Aston Villa’s championship play-off final. Its online version had high production values and made excellent use of multi-media techniques. A real team effort where the joined-up structure of Reach and its high-impact design style came into its own. 
Highly commended: BBC Online East Midlands. Oxford Mail Sports Desk.

PR Campaign
: Story Comms.
Verdict: its launch of the UK’s most landlocked “wave park” in Birmingham was a well-planned campaign that generated fantastic national and regional coverage and created a buzz among the media and public alike.
Highly commended: Hollie Jones and Ross Copping, Liquid.

News Reporter of the Year (Weekly)
: Bev Holder, Stourbridge News. 
Verdict: Bev was praised for her clear, interesting, well-written articles – a “stalking” story being really compulsive reading. 
Highly commended:  Chris Philpotts. Tamworth Herald.

News Reporter of the Year (Daily/Sunday)
: Zoe Chamberlain, Birmingham Mail/Birmingham Live. 
Verdict: Zoe’s gritty, down-to-earth stories included examples galore which had made the leap from local to national coverage. She broke the Starbank School story which raised disturbing and shocking issues after teachers went on strike at an “outstanding” school that was later downgraded to “inadequate”. 
Highly commended: Mike Lockley, Sunday Mercury. Nicholas Reid, Derby Telegraph/Derbyshire Live. Peter Madeley, Express & Star.

Website of the Year
: Oli Hills, Birmingham Updates. 
Verdict: Updates was a digital brand taking on the traditional print brands and offered an interesting combination of community-based stories and hard news which had built up a sizeable online following in a short space of time. 
Highly commended:  Ross Hawkes, Lichfield Live. Paul Whitelam, Emily White, Helen Harper and Anna Draper, Lincolnshire Media.

Daily/Sunday Newspaper of the Year
: Express & Star. 
Verdict: key points were the paper’s very high story count, exclusive stories, its good sports section and an excellent balance of features and hard news.

Weekly Newspaper of the Year
: The Staffordshire Newsletter. 
Verdict: an excellent read, full of stories of real relevance from all over its patch.

Story of the Year
: Birmingham Live/Birmingham Mail.
Verdict: the team’s handling of what was perhaps the most disturbing and controversial Midlands news story of the year – protests outside schools over LGBT equality teaching – was in-depth, well-balanced and respectful to all parties. 
Highly commended:  ITV News Central. Sanjeeta Bains, Birmingham Live

The President’s Award
: Tony Neal, Shropshire Star. 
Verdict: Neil recorded a remarkable score, which recognised his work as a highly skilled and insightful political columnist.