Campaign of the Year – Daily Paper

Scroll down to meet the nominees for Daily Paper Campaign of the Year.

Judges were looking for campaigns that made waves, struck a chord with readers and simply made a difference. 

The Shortlist

Birmingham Pub Bombing Inquest Campaign, Birmingham Mail

Supporting statement:

Journalism at its best is journalism that makes a difference.

The Birmingham Mail has long reported on the appalling legacy of the pub bombings which brought death to the city on November 21, 1974.

In 2016, Coroner Louise Hunt took the historic decision to re-open inquests into the deaths.

That decision was the result of the dogged determination and investigative journalism of Birmingham Mail content editor Andy Richards.

It was Richards who identified the legal loophole which enabled the Coroner to take action.

While trawling legal documents and archive news reports, he realised that although the inquests were opened, they were never completed. This was because police immediately arrested the Birmingham Six, who were later cleared of the crime. It was judged that there was then no need for the inquests to continue but, crucially, they were never closed.

Working with lawyers, and the Justice4The21 campaign group formed by Julie Hambleton – whose sister was amongst those who died in the bombings – Richards first brought the loophole to the attention of the authorities, and then campaigned relentlessly for the inquests to be resumed.

There was fierce opposition from West Midlands Police, whose mishandling of the investigation resulted in the wrong men being convicted. But as more information flowed in as a result of the Mail’s campaigning, it emerged that the force appeared to have ignored at least two warnings of the attack.

This was the unheard evidence needed to unlock the inquests. Keeping up the pressure with hard-hitting articles, the Mail now campaigned for the families to receive funding for legal representation, and has since forced a change in the law, extending Legal Aid eligibility to law firms in Northern Ireland.

On February 25, the hard-won hearing finally opened and the Birmingham Mail’s front page demanded ‘Time For The Truth’. The first day’s evidence was reported next day with the P1 headline ‘It was a perfectly ordinary evening in the two pubs… a film was showing at the Odeon cinema but, just after 8.15pm, all of that changed’.

It was to be the pattern for the next 29 days, during which the Birmingham Mail reported proceedings every day, many times splashing on the inquest. The awards submission includes a typical edition from March 1, with seven pages of coverage offering newly told human interest stories and previously unknown background.

The families, for whom the Mail has fought since 1974, finally began to get some longstanding questions answered, including the sensational naming of the bombers – despite the Coroner ruling the identities of the killers outside the scope of the hearing – the police staff shortages on the night the bombers struck and the emergency services shortcomings and inadequate equipment.

The final verdict was that the 21 were unlawfully killed – a verdict the families would not have had if not for the Mail campaign.

But it does not end there. Now, the campaign backs the families in the quest to finally bring the bombers to justice. This is journalism at its best.

Judges’ Comments:  

A campaign that made a difference thanks to the dogged determination of Andy Richards who refused to cave in even when faced with massive official resistance to his pursuit for justice.

This long running campaign has finally seen some justice for the victims’ families – as well as revealed names and evidence that has been suppressed over the years.

Oscar Saxelby-Lee appeal, Worcester News

Supporting statement:

We threw our support behind an appeal by the parents of Oscar Saxelby-Lee, a five year old with a rare leukaemia, to raise £500,000 to pay for treatment overseas.

Oscar’s story had captured the hearts of people locally and our report and picture showing how nearly 5,000 people had queued up to register as a potential bone marrow donor for him had already gone viral on social media and in national papers.

When Oscar’s transplant failed, his parents launched an appeal for money to send him to Singapore for treatment not available to him on the NHS.

We supported their initial appeal, setting out to our readers the emotional turmoil of Oscar’s parents and why they needed the huge sum. We did regular online and printed stories showing the massive response to the appeal, and highlighted events by individuals, schools, businesses and public bodies.

The appeal, which was the fastest-growing on the Virgin Money fundraising page, raised the initial £500,000 in less than three weeks and went on to reach nearly £740,000 with £140,000 of the money being given to a local charity for children with cancer – the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust.

Our coverage of Oscar’s appeal struck a chord with our readers who frequently engaged with us via phone calls and through our social media pages to try to help raise the money.

We broke the news online that the £500,000 had been reached, following up with an emotive front page with heartfelt thanks from Oscar’s parents.

A subsequent front page celebrated the breadth of community involvement, highlighting the many, many people who helped raise the money and showing how they had all made a real difference on multiple levels.

The real success of this campaign is that it made a difference to Oscar, to other children with cancer via the Grace Kelly Childhood Cancer Trust (which raises money for research into childhood cancers) and, as Oscar is only the second child to have this particular treatment, through his case being used as a test case for others with the same rare cancer.

We subsequently won Campaign of the Year at the Midlands Media awards last November.

The latest results show Oscar is free from cancer following the CAR-T treatment – although he remains extremely ill.

Judges’ Comments:  

A fantastic example of a well executed and powerful campaign.

An outstanding fundraising effort in such a short space of time, which has pulled the community together. The impact of this campaign goes beyond the individual case and should help other children with cancer.

Power up the North, Manchester Evening News

Supporting statement:

More than 30 titles across the North came together in a quite remarkable campaign that ensured the North of England became a major factor in the 2019 General Election. It followed a one-day 2018 collaboration to protest the appalling failure of Northern Rail – but this time it had even greater and more lasting impact.

Power Up The North was initiated after a report unveiled by the Manchester Evening News exposed funding inequality comparing the North/South divide to that between East and West Germany at the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

With the Yorkshire Post also flying the flag for the wider region, the two rival publishers set about gaining wider support across Reach, JPI and Newsquest.

Daily editors across the whole region came up trumps and more than 30 titles created individual splashes and led websites to launch the campaign. Its impact stretched from Newcastle to Liverpool, Hull to Cumbria, Lancashire to Sheffield. With a huge combined audience amplified by national media attention, the campaign truly burst the London bubble and directed much-needed attention to a neglected region. 

With the message now loud and clear, the same titles collaborated again in the run-up to the 2019 General Election, launching a Manifesto for the North supported by civic leaders across the whole region. It ensured that both major political parties went into the campaign with key policy pledges. Labour announced exclusively through the Manchester Evening News that they would bring half the Treasury North if elected, while the Tories pledged investment in infrastructure to level up the regional economy. In the end, an historic election saw Northern seats become a key battleground and the “levelling up” narrative has accelerated post-Election.

Those Northern titles now remain central to ensuring promises are delivered. Rarely can a newspaper campaign have had such an impact on UK politics. The spotlight is now firmly on the North as we seek to end years of neglect and unfair funding. It’s important to say that no one title could have made this happen alone. It was the collective might of the whole region that was impossible to ignore. As our industry makes its fightback from the economic challenges of the last decade, this campaign, more than any other, has demonstrated the power and influence our historic regional titles can still wield.

Judges Comments:  

An impactful campaign which grew into a national story.

A great idea which concentrated the minds of politicians and has been pursued on other issues since. An extraordinary collaboration of northern titles to lead the political agenda and force change. The impact has been the focus of politicians on capturing the votes in the north and a tangible change in the political narrative from the new government.

Power up the North, The Yorkshire Post

Supporting statement:

I do believe the Power Up The North campaign to be one of the most impactful campaigns undertaken by the regional press, writes Post editor James Mitchinson.

One year ago (June 2018) The Yorkshire Post joined forces with other northern newspapers to build a co-ordinated multi-publisher broadside aimed at Government following the catastrophic collapse of the commuter service on the railway in the North. That campaign – One North – won the Society of Editors’ Campaign of the Year award for 2018. 

Power Up The North

One year on, the Power Up The North campaign – credited with changing the course of the General Election and the import of the region – is a collaboration between almost 40 regional news brands in the North of England. Timed to coincide with the commencement of the leadership battle for No 10 Downing St, it is a landmark moment which calls for an end to the interminable widening of the North/South divide in England. The Yorkshire Post’s Power Up The North campaign calls for:

  1. An unequivocal commitment to a bespoke Industrial Strategy for the North;
  2. A fully funded, new, integrated approach to connecting the city regions of the North;
  3. Northern Powerhouse Rail slated as a National Priority;
  4. The acceleration of decision-making out of London, properly devolved to the regions;
  5. Additional investment in the schools, colleges and universities of the North;
  6. Accelerate and enhance investment in the digital infrastructure of the North, particularly in rural areas;
  7. Set out a new social housing strategy for the North against a deliverable timeline;
  8. Commitment to the Shared Prosperity Fund – that intended to replace EU structural funding – be fully devolved in long-term tranches to enable strategic decisions to be taken here.  

Audience Reach

The titles that took part, have a combined monthly reach of 9.25m people. That’s two thirds of the North’s 15m population. TYP’s launch was seen by over half a million people on Twitter alone. 

On 13th June, 2019 the Leader of HM Opposition Jeremy Corbyn said at PMQs: “They promised a Northern Powerhouse; they failed to deliver it and now every northern newspaper is campaigning for this Government to Power Up The North!” Boris Johnson was also forced into updating his leadership pitch to bring in the North, The Yorkshire Post splash, 13th June. 48 hours after Power Up The North (Source: JICREG June 2019: From 30m 50s) called on Government to show its commitment to the region by making the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse a Cabinet position, the Minister himself – Jake Berry – put out a statement calling for the very same. 

Media interviews were given to Sky BBC and ITV as well as regional television: Radio 4 Today placed the campaign as second top item (to Brexit) on the paper review. Other known media includes the James O’Brien show on LBC where he gave an hour over to discussing the North/South divide.

Power Up The North is now common political parlance and the campaign hugely influential in the manifestation of this Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda.

Judges’ Comments:  

An extraordinary collaboration of northern titles to lead the political agenda and force change.

Speak Up, Hull Daily Mail

Supporting statement:

In the early hours of the Saturday after Christmas 2018, CCTV cameras captured a young man walking onto the footpath of the Humber Bridge.

Not that far away, at exactly the same time, a car abruptly came to a stop on the bridge linking northern Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire.

CCTV operators diverted their attention to the car. They saw a man getting out, climbing over the railings and jumping into the murky river below.

Moments later, when they moved the camera back to check on the young man on the path, he had also disappeared.

Two lives had been lost within the space of a few minutes. Neither of the men’s bodies were found.

When we published details of this tragedy, the response from our readers was immediate and overwhelming.

Our piece, headlined ‘Two lives lost in minutes: Why we need to take mental health seriously’, was shared more than 1,700 times on Facebook.

People began sharing their own stories about accessing mental health support, losing relatives to suicide and the mental health issues plaguing young men. We knew there was more we could do.

We decided to launch a campaign focus on men’s mental health because they are overwhelmingly more likely to take their own lives. In fact, suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. Across the UK, one man dies by suicide every two hours. And two-thirds of men who are struggling with mental health issues don’t seek help.

We decided to launch a campaign to raise awareness of men’s mental health issues and to encourage men to seek help for their problems. It’s called Speak Up for this reason.

We launched the campaign online in the most powerful way we could think of — by telling the stories of young men from Hull who have taken their own lives in the past couple of years. 

It was a devastating and confronting piece, but we knew it would make people sit up and take notice. And it did. More than 40,000 people read it and it was shared widely on social media.

Since then, our team have interviewed many families of men who have died by suicide, who have thanked us for highlighting this important issue.

There is an old adage that newspapers shouldn’t launch a campaign that you can’t ‘win’. We are not arrogant enough to believe we can solve this issue. But what have done is shine a spotlight on an issue which has been in the shadows for too long.

Judges’ Comments:  

Acknowledged as a campaign they couldn’t ‘win’, the paper nevertheless illustrated with powerful case histories a much-neglected issue.

Time to Talk, The Mail, Barrow

Supporting statement:

The start of 2019 was a bleak time for the community of Barrow-in-Furness. There was a number of high-profile deaths and the team at The Mail noticed a very sad pattern. Those who passed away were all young men in their early teens to mid-20s and they had all felt they had nowhere to turn. There were five deaths in a three-week period. The Mail set out to change the way the community thinks bout mental health. We tried to reduce the stigma around mental health by starting a conversation, get local health bosses to offer more support to those in need and equip the community by highlighting the charities and groups offering support.

The campaign was warmly received by the community. Through regular stories The Mail got Barrow talking about its very clear struggles with mental health.

As well as carrying regular features with local charities, promoting events and starting discussions online, The Mail team lived and breathed the campaign encouraging readers to be kinder to each other.

Mental health sufferers even opened up with the paper to tell readers there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Reporters joined local events such as the Mental Health Mile and local boxing sessions designed to offer people struggling to reach out a safe place to go.

The campaign quickly gained the support of the families who had lost loved ones. With many featuring in the paper to share their story in the hope of preventing another family going through what they have. 

The Mayor of Barrow even revealed his own personal tragedy – how his son had died prematurely after taking his own life.

After six months of campaigning, the health trust announced they were taking our calls on-board. Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group announced they were to roll out suicide prevention training and mental health first aid training at many of Barrow’s biggest employers. What a victory! 

Barrow suffers because of its location. Many health services are based 40 miles or more away. Having the trust sit up and listen to us was a great achievement and step forward for the community. 

As well as helping people to understand when someone is at risk of suicide, the new initiative will see suicide prevention training delivered to organisations who choose sign up, as well as bereavement support and suicide first aid.

The initiative, delivered by Every Life Matters and Mind in Furness, comes after it was revealed that 497 people within the Morecambe Bay area took their own lives between 2015 and 2017.

The region has the third highest rate of suicide in England.

But the fight to change perceptions and encourage people to speak out is still ongoing. 

This year The Mail plans to host the Time to Talk Awards – a chance to reward all those who have gone above and beyond to support, share or help others.

The battle has just begun and The Mail will continue to support its community in 2020.

Judges’ Comments:  

Handling with sensitivity a difficult issue and prompting positive action from the relevant authority.

The impact of this men’s mental health campaign has had tangible results with resources being directed to suicide prevention training – both from the NHS and charities in the area. Strong human interest, not least from the mayor discussing his personal tragedy.