Front Page of the Year – Weekly/ Sunday Paper

Scroll down to see the nominated Regional Press Awards Front Pages of the Year for Weekly/ Sunday Papers. This award is sponsored by HoldTheFrontPage.

 Judges looked for the outstanding and most memorable front page published in a weekly or Sunday regional or local newspaper during the year.

The Shortlist

‘Choose something’, The Herald on Sunday

Supporting statement:

The country was stuck in a rut. Brexit was strangling debate and stifling progress. And, as another week of deadlock loomed, The Herald on Sunday decided enough was enough. 

We wanted to make a statement – one that nobody could ignore. And the result was as striking as a newspaper front page could get – a brilliant take on the iconic poster from the movie ‘Trainspotting’, and a graphic indictment of how our politicians were handling – or more appropriately mishandling – the most important issue of our age.

When it hit the news stands it sold out across the country, and when it appeared online it went viral, becoming the talking point of the entire nation.

Huge story, great design, massive impact – this is the very definition of a fantastic front page.

Judges’ Comments:

The subject matter seems rather dated now but at the time this was a front page that 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.

Evil Eyes, Sunday Life

Supporting statement:

This front page is striking when you look at it and realise just what has been caught on camera – the terror chief whose gang killed journalist Lyra McKee coldly staring at her friends as they placed bloody handprints on the wall of his office.

It focuses on the biggest news event in Northern in 2019 – the murder of journalist Lyra McKee by the New IRA. This newspaper was able to identify the man in the image as the leader of the terrorist group responsible. Thomas Mellon, who is on a 10-year MI5 terror watchlist, looked on as the writer’s friends staged a blood-stained hand protest outside a building used by the organisation’s political wing, Saoradh. Unknown to her friends and the photographer who took the image this man was central to what happened to Lyra during the riot in Derry last April. They knew Saoradh was the New IRA’s political wing and that many of its members were also in the New IRA but Mellon would not have been well known. He had managed to keep a relatively low profile before the murder and until we exposed him. Our coverage led to intense scrutiny of Mellon with the BBC nationally running news pieces on him after our revelations. The words EVIL EYES sum up exactly what the reader is seeing here.

Judges’ Comments:

Both an impactful front page and a huge news scoop in one well-designed package.

A chilling image.

For the love of Lucas, East Kent Mercury

Supporting statement:

The East Kent Mercury has been able to use its position as a trusted local newspaper and website to its advantage in the coverage of several big stories over the last year.

The most high profile of these stories was the search for six-year-old Lucas Dobson, who fell into the river while on a fishing trip with his father in the town of Sandwich.

On the Saturday afternoon in August when the story broke, assistant news editor Eleanor Perkins noticed via Facebook that a search was underway in the river. By the evening, when it emerged that the teams were searching for a six-year-old boy, the incident was being reported by national websites, newspapers and TV stations.

We built up a good rapport with the family, to the point that they supplied exclusive information and a number of photographs and videos of Lucas. 

Our team spent several more days in Sandwich during the search and we worked closely with family and friends throughout the week to uncover new angles as the story developed.

The front page produced by our design team was published before Lucas’s body had been found and was aimed at conveying the extent to which the search had consumed both his family and the local community.

Judges’ Comments:

Beautifully designed front which combines different images to tell the different aspects of the story.

Movingly handles a time-sensitive story that proved to have a tragic outcome. It honours the child, his family and the town so works on many levels.

My childminder sold me for sex, Impartial Reporter

Supporting statement:

This front page was a stunning and shocking portrayal of the abuse suffered by one young girl while in the care of a childminder who allegedly sold her for sex to a number of men over several years. The victim bravely told her story in the paper and her allegations are now being investigated by a special team within the Police Service of Northern Ireland set up in response to this story.

This report was part of an Impartial Reporter series of exclusive, powerful and hard-hitting investigative articles on allegations of historical child sexual abuse Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.

As a result of publishing one man’s account of alleged abuse there was a tsunami of people getting in touch with similar stories. Between March 2019 and December 2019, we exposed serious claims of child sexual abuse after more than 70 alleged victims made allegations against over 70 men and women over many decades. We soon realised that many of the victims had been allegedly abused by the same people as similar names kept cropping up.

In that time, we published more than 50 articles, including case studies and testimonies which exposed alleged abuse for the first time in the local newspaper’s history, highlighted the apparent failure of those in positions of power to keep children safe and challenged those in authority.

This was undoubtedly one of the most shocking reports we carried and we wanted a front page that made the reader sit up and listen to this victim’s story. A victim who had previously been failed by the police. We felt it important to give her voice and a strong voice at that. That was the aim of this front page.

Judges’ Comments:

Impossible to not want to read this expose. Elegantly drawn.

Powerful front page with well thought out strap lines

Shameless/ Killed for the Cameras, Sunday Life

Supporting statement:

April 18, 2019… a day that will never be forgotten among journalists across the UK. We, like the rest of Northern Ireland, were shocked and repulsed by the senseless murder of writer Lyra McKee.

As a former freelance reporter for the Sunday Life it was a tough week for the many staff of the paper who knew her so well, including political editor Suzanne Breen who was one of her closest friends.

We were all heartbroken but knew we had to report on the facts behind her tragic death in Derry.

Our edition which went to press just 48 hours after the shooting set the news agenda for the week.

The headline SHAMELESS summed up the feelings of our readers as they saw stomach-churning images of men and women in full combat gear brazenly marching through Dublin city centre in support of the organisation responsible for her death – the New IRA and its political wing Saoradh.

This outrage over how this was able to happen led to political calls for future marches to be banned from the streets of the Irish capital.

Our splash also exclusively revealed how the New IRA was stupidly staging a show of strength to show off for MTV cameras when its members started rioting and then shooting on the streets of Derry that fateful night. Their footage is now key to the murder case against the only man charged with the senseless killing.

Judges’ Comments:

Totally arresting with a headline you can’t look away from.

Reflects reader anger and provides hope something will be done.

The Lost Boys, MEN on Sunday

Supporting statement:

A chilling CCTV image and a thought-provoking headline brilliantly captured this outstanding piece of journalism in Manchester’s brand new Sunday title (this was only the second edition).  Reporter Steve Robson, working with information from contacts, followed a gang of teenagers through protected court proceedings and went on to reveal significant issues with pupil referral units. 

Boys excluded from school were left without any kind of reasonable supervision and were able to go on a terrifying crime spree in the city centre. 

Our intelligent treatment of the story exposed a systemic failure that had effectively allowed these boys to become lost to society. It was truly agenda-setting social journalism and led to an official review of pupil referral units in Manchester.

Judges’ Comments:

Strong portrayal of a significant, untold story that takes the reader immediately behind the headline. Only the paper’s second edition and one that sets out the title’s store for the future.

To everyone you are a hero, Reading Chronicle


Supporting statement:

‘To everyone you are a hero’ – Reading Chronicle, August 22

The death of PC Andrew Harper rocked the UK and, closer to home, had a huge impact on the people of Reading – where just days earlier this brave policeman lost his life in the line of duty.

A shocking story which engendered a huge response from members of the public. In the days that followed his death, national press and TV dominated headlines and audiences, but it was the work of The Reading Chronicle which – presented in a sensitive way – received many plaudits locally.

The story had already been told so many different ways by the time our print product was going to press.

Others had concentrated on the brutal aspects of the death and ongoing court investigation, we decided instead to dedicate our front page in honour of this brave young man who had recently married.

A black front page, with a black and white image was selected. To add to this poignant tribute, a thin blue line broke the lack of colour to stand out as our own mark of respect. 

Headline selection was key and the quote was taken from a large tribute written by his devastated widow. 

As part of our planning for this front page, we worked closely with Thames Valley Police to ensure all parties were happy with our coverage.

This week was a huge one for The Chronicle with many significant events which could have led to increased sales. 

A side panel showed details of special reports on results day and a Reading Festival preview.

Although potentially not the most beneficial selection of splash in terms of sales, it was viewed by senior staff that this was the right way to put our front page together in tribute to a local policeman who gave his life whilst protecting others.

Judges’ Comments:

Arresting front page that grabs the reader’s attention. A shocking story that saddened the nation and the paper provided a strong yet sympathetic approach to depict the horror of the event without sensationalizing it.