Paid for Weekly/Sunday Newspaper Below 50,000 Monthly Reach

Paid for Weekly/ Sunday Newspaper of the Year Below 50,000 Monthly Reach, sponsored by Camelot.

Camelot is proud to support the Society of Editors’ Regional Press Awards.

Since its launch in 1994, The National Lottery has delivered a life-changing £40 billion for Good Causes, with more than 565,000 individual awards made across the UK – an average of over 200 lottery grants in every postcode district. It has also awarded over £73 billion in prizes and created more than 5,500 millionaires or multi-millionaires.

The National Lottery is at the heart of communities across the UK and benefits millions of people’s lives – just as the national, regional and local media do every day. Thanks to your invaluable support over the past 25 years, National Lottery winners have been able to share their good news, missing ticket-holders have been united with their previously-unclaimed winnings and a huge range of projects have been able to highlight the life-changing difference they make thanks to vital National Lottery funding.

The Shortlist

The select panel of experienced senior journalists or former journalists from all parts of the media considered the achievements of each of the entries across all platforms set out in submissions by editors. The judges were looking for service to the local community, great exclusives and successful campaigns, editorial achievements and other outstanding journalism.

Beccles & Bungay Journal

Supporting statement

Backed by a small team of reporters, the Beccles and Bungay Journal provides unrivalled coverage of two market towns near the Norfolk and Suffolk border, as well as several rural villages nearby, offering residents the go-to option for local news.

Hours before our print deadline for the March 22 edition, we were informed by a healthcare trust of the expected closure of several key services, including a community hospital and nursing home, subject to a consultation period. The news came as a shock to countless local residents, service users and families, who faced just 45 days to find alternative care arrangements, or campaign to save the service. Reporters were required to work quickly to provide the extensive coverage showcased in the print spread before the deadline. This included the trust’s statement on the closure, reaction from families of service users and local MPs. A petition and campaign to save the service was also backed by the newspaper, with later editions featuring extensive and unrivalled coverage of protests and efforts to save the services provided. While the community hospital was closed following the consultation period, almost all of the other services were successfully transferred to other healthcare providers. In early 2020, it was also revealed the hospital building is also now set to reopen for use as a neurorehabilitation service. The March 22 edition also includes details of the return of a popular fun fair, including the backstory to it, and tributes to a man described as a “pillar of the community” after a house fire in a rural village. Plans for a major new development in another rural village also feature, as well as a historical feature.

Following the death of a cyclist in a collision with a lorry, reporters used local contacts to sensitively approach the woman’s family. This resulted in a heartfelt tribute to the grandmother in the June 7 edition, as well as praise for the local community’s support following the tragedy. The edition also features extensive previews to a major cycling event set to be hosted in Beccles, including an all-you-need-to-know spread on pages 22 and 23, and information on the family-friendly events and local businesses on page 3. For a number of weeks in the summer of 2019, drivers in the local area were plagued by a spate of rock-throwing incidents in moving cars. The first article on this, featuring two case studies, is included in this edition, along with photographs of the damaged cars. The newspaper had previously ran several updates following the death of a six-year-old boy, from family tributes to his parent’s efforts to raise greater awareness of meningitis. This edition includes a spread on the outcome of the inquest into his death, and features several photographs his family offered to reporters. An in-depth report into children’s mental health services also features in a spread.

For several weeks, through talks with local contacts, our reporter heard rumours of a group of teenagers terrorising the town, calling themselves the “Bungay Mafia.” Through her tenacity and sourcing of contacts, she was able to overcome initial reluctance from residents, largely borne out of fear, to report on the group’s actions in the November 22 edition, adding further responses from the town mayor and local police inspector. Further follow-ups have been reported on about the group, including efforts to clamp down on the anti-social behaviour to improve the safety of residents in the town. Staff photographs feature in the page 3 report on a popular beer festival, which drew a crowd of hundreds to raise money for a lido refurbishment project. The edition also includes a local business owner’s fears after refurbishment plans put the future of his enterprise in doubt, as well as details on the forthcoming Christmas Lights switch on. Court coverage of the rock-thrower, mentioned in the June 7 edition, features in the November 22 newspaper, with the court told how he targeted up to 100 drivers in the spree.

Judges’ comments

Obviously at the very heart of its communities, the Journal provides superlative coverage that residents should be very proud of. Wonderful to see so much commitment and passion. Truly great read.

Bury Free Press

Supporting statement

The 165-year-old Bury Free Press refreshed in 2019 to take on new designs, new sections and new page flows.

After being taken over by Iliffe Media in early 2017, the title took full advantage of new design expectations and audience understanding to capture a cleaner, fresher look by removing the clutter of old designs and moving to a look and palette more suited to 2020 and beyond.

The redesign started with the Culture (what’s on) section. We didn’t want to turn off readers completely overnight so went to innovative new designs for the Culture section first and moved from there.

Designer Debbie Rodman (entered this year for the newspaper of the year designer) brought expertise from magazines and supplements to the party and transformed that section. She used – and continues to use weekly – design tricks, a use of white space and an understanding of the audience in our market towns, to bring a mix of ultra-local food, theatre, wildlife and listings information to the audience in a format which is easy on the eye and inviting. The September 27 section shows this superbly with a great exclusive Gilbert O’Sullivan DPS, feeding into an uber-local book spread for our town’s literary festival and then straight into a food and coffee DPS written by a local coffee house and a freelance writer (Nicola Miller) who deserves a wider audience than Bury alone.

May 2019 saw the news pages move from the dated JP designs from 2012 to new fonts and column widths, far more suited to an older audience and their optical challenges while maximising picture use and increasing longer-form reads in print (while keeping these away from the digital audience to create more must-read reasons to come to the print version).

In the redesign, we involved advertising on the journey and redrew the ‘prime’ advertising slot document to free up pages early on from too many adverts, while making sure we still serviced advertisers as well as we could. This enabled us to use page 2 as a quicker-read, while making the contents panel less invasive and uniting our flannel panel in a much neater format.

Pages 6/7 and 14/15 are now set aside for longer exclusive reads, one newsy and one more feature-based. Furniture on news pages has been cleaned and tidied to make it less invasive while still carrying web address and folio info.

The redesign also capitalised on the huge and burgeoning interest in business in West Suffolk. We amalgamated suitable columnists (finance, surgery-style pieces, BIDs) and got a new business section sponsored and this runs to 3-4 pages weekly. The September 6 paper also contains our guide to the business festival – produced, written and designed by us and trumpeting a festival which culminates in our own business awards gala night. It’s a huge date on the calendar and one we now tap into each year for stories and ad leads. It’s a win-win for all departments.

Letters are always a barometer of engagement for a print newspaper – and we wanted to offer a conduit for views each week which was both accessible and relevant. We brought together the social media comments, editor’s comment, in-house writers and email/written letters across 2-3 pages and used these pages to then lead into other local writers (MPs, police commissioners, education writers and the like).

Property still comes as a pullout each week – easy for agents to then sit on their counters and, for those not wanting to look at homes, easy to discard. The design expertise has run through this section, too, with the fresher feel extending to new-look property puff pages for homes on sale.

Sport had become very messy, too – far too much tinkering with layouts and little additions made over the years. It’s now far more rigid in terms of layout, with templates galore to suit any picture or game while still free enough to allow news to dictate a good layout as seen on the backs of the October and Sept 27 issues.

Localising national stories is done very well now by our skilled digital team – Rhoda Morrison (Sept 27, splash) is the UK’s NCTJ Trainee of the Year and has won three national awards in 2019 for her writing and exam excellence. It’s no shock that her stories perform as some of the best on analytics platform and that in turn helps print sales to shine.

Rhoda was also a key player in 2019 as we launched our Bury Free Press Community Awards – a new set of awards for very under-the-radar community champions (see Sept 27, pp41-44) which we ran in-paper and online and which then culminated in a well-received awards night in town, run in partnership with the town council.

Awards are growing for us – Oct 18 edition has the culmination of our business awards (pages 41-46) – a night which Iliffe saw potential in and expanded with more categories and now 100s of entries each year.

The Christmas Fayre in Bury is a 4-day hotspot on the festive calendar and we partnered with the council to bring out a glossy guide in 2019 for the first time (enclosed in Oct 18 edition).

Thanks to our new colleagues in Kent, First Class was presented as a real money-spinner for picture sales and made the October 18 edition the 2019 top sales performer. Thanks to its success, it will be doubled in size for 2020 and run across our four other Suffolk titles to drive print sales.

Final mention to trainee Laura Nolan (p19, October 18) whose Teacher of the Year idea surpassed all expectations. Entries soared close to the 500-mark as parents galore told us about shining examples of great teaching across Suffolk schools. We sourced a local education sponsor for a low-key launch for the competition and this will also be expanded for 2020.

Our audience’s habits are evolving but they still want trusted and innovative reporting from us in a fresh package, delivered with style each week. You decide if we deliver that.

Judges’ comments

Obviously not prepared to sit back and enjoy its undoubted strong reputation, the Free Press has forged ahead with a new design and new sections – and they work. A great read that is truly supportive of the community the paper serves.

Cambridge Independent

Supporting statement

The Cambridge Independent believes that quality, intelligent content, packaged in a well-designed and thoughtfully organised newspaper is as relevant today as ever.

With exclusive investigations and in-depth backgrounders, plus dedicated Culture, Science, Education, Business and Homes sections, and busy Sport pages renowned locally for their breadth and depth, we offer the reader everything they could want to know about life in the Cambridge region in a newspaper that typically extends to 120-128 pages.

First among our principles is being at the heart of the community.

In 2019, we partnered with more than 20 festivals. From Cambridge Science Festival, organised by Cambridge University, to Cambridge Literary Festival, if it’s going on in our city, we’re involved. Cambridge Music Festival, Wimpole History Festival, the Town & Gown 10K run, the Cambridge United Sport in the Community Awards… you won’t miss a thing if you read our newspaper.

Festival organisers come to us for partnerships because we offer entertaining, trusted content.

Our community-focused approach means we are always seeking meaningful campaigns to run.

We’ve been helping to raise £100,000 through our Rapid Scan Appeal to support vital cancer research taking place with patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

And we’ve launched our Plant a Tree Campaign to get 10,000 trees planted in Cambridgeshire to improve air quality and combat climate change. Ours is one of the least wooded counties in the country.

We have dedicated Community pages for grass-roots news from villages and groups – the kind of content so often jettisoned from newspapers these days as the focus on driving web audience leads decision-making.

But if it’s the best take on the most important news stories for Cambridge that you are looking for, then you’re also in the right place.

2019 was the year we:

were the first online to confirm the death of Cambridge mayor Nigel Gawthrope on a diving holiday, following this up with an unparalleled tribute issue;

were the first media outlet nationally to confirm the name of Jack Merritt as one of the London Bridge terror victims, an online first that we followed up again with thoughtful, in-depth work in print;

were first to reveal plans to rebuild Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Our news editor explored the world of county lines drug dealing in a special investigation, which featured exclusive insight from the police, and a gripping interview with the mother of a teenager caught up in this worrying trend.

We also told the exclusive story – ‘From dealer to healer’ – of a man who was jailed for his drug dealing but turned his life around to become a mentor to those in danger of following in his footsteps. This highly sensitive piece took weeks of work to bring to fruition, but our patient, honest approach and determination to tell the full story led to a fascinating insight.

Cambridge’s congestion crisis is acute, and we’ve offered exceptional analysis of plans to build a £4bn metro beneath the city, create a new busway and consider road charging, using double-page spreads and graphics to bring these complex stories to life, while our regular environmental coverage has included highlighting 50 ways to lead a greener life in Cambridgeshire, with genuine local advice across two issues.

Our Education pages have pushed for better funding for our schools, while highlighting opportunities in STEM, while our Science spreads offer a unique insight into the research of Cambridge’s world-leading laboratories. Ensuring the content is suitable for both general readers and the city’s large scientific community, they have explained everything from the earliest stages of human development to the search for exoplanets.

Our Business pages are full of exclusive interviews, offering insight into some of the most exciting companies and entrepreneurs in the country.

We organise the Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards, which have grown each year and have earned an international reputation.

We also organise Motor Show East – a family fun day out – and celebrate the work of small and medium-sized enterprises with our SME Cambridgeshire Business Awards.

In our Culture section, we feature exclusive interviews with established stars and showcase up-and-coming talent from the worlds of stage, music, comedy and art, while food and drink columnists, nature writers and photography showcases could make you think you were reading a national weekend pullout – except that every element is local.

This in-depth, but entertaining, approach extends into our Sports pages, where thoughtful coverage of football and rugby is supplemented with coverage of everything from korfball to bowls. We offer interviews that go behind the scenes, and offer insight into the people behind the clubs, such as Cambridge United groundsman Ian Darler, who told us about his mental health battle.

Columnists Paul Kirkley and Emily Silverwood-Cope bring great humour and cutting insight into our pages, while we ensure readers receive a good balance of voices through a diet of columns from MPs to climate change groups.

This wealth of content is wrapped up in a distinctive stitched and trimmed design, with pictures bleeding to the edge and poster section fronts, all colour-coded for ease of navigation.

We carefully design each page, helping to make our content sing.

We pride ourselves on the quality of our pictures – our photographer’s outstanding work is given the space to shine.

Subscribers enjoy free access to our app too.

Judges’ comments

Since they burst onto the scene a few short years ago the Cambridge Independent has been determined to make its mark. A consistently strong contender, this year’s submissions do not disappoint. The paper to beat in this category.

Farnham Herald

Supporting statement

The paper was redesigned as a tabloid on April 4, 2019. Under a new leadership team, steps were taken not only to give the paper a new format, but to relaunch with fresher content, and involving the community.

The result has meant the sales slide was halted: there have been many weeks since the relaunch when the Herald has shown year-on-year sales growth. Taking all five editions of the Herald into account, sales are now running less than 5% y-o-y decline – previously they showed double-digit decline – despite a cover price increase of 20p to 80p.

The paper has a new campaigning brief: we have launched Cut the Pollution (Farnham has the most polluted town centre in Surrey) which involved hosting a Pollution Summit, chaired by Jeremy Hunt MP and included leaders of all the local councils and relevant organisations; Don’t Dump the Dump, fighting to retain the recycling centre in Farnham which was in danger of being closed (the campaign was successful – it remains open).

We launched Have A Heart for more defibrillators in Farnham. The money was pledged by a reader for the first one only hours after the paper hit the news stands.

The Farnham community includes many leaders in their relevant fields. They submit regular columns which add huge value to the paper: legal columns, a jobs column (Jobs Guru James Innes, a regular face on TV, lives in Farnham and writes a column), horticulture, environment, a dog trainer, food experts, an ultra-distance runner writes about exercise and health issues. new books at local libraries… the list goes on. We don’t simply encourage UGC: every column has to add value to the paper.

The community has responded: across the five editions, we regularly have six pages of letters (and sometimes that isn’t enough for them all!)

We started a clubs and societies page, underlining our policy of being an unashamedly very local paper – that now regularly runs to six pages a week (and again, that’s often not enough).

Stories are shorter, crisper and better written than the broadsheet days, meaning we can increase our story count and ensure content remains plentiful and, above all, local.

When Jeremy Hunt gave his first interview after his battle with Boris Johnson to become prime minister, he gave it to the Herald.

We have a minimum of nine pages of sport a week, with more and more local clubs wanting to be involved.

We have worked with local schools to include school newspapers – we help them source stories from their school, write the stories, take the photos, and then design their own paper, which is then included as a supplement inside the Herald. The youngsters love getting involved – and they learn there’s more to local news than a laptop or tablet. And they learn how relevant newspapers can be for readers of all ages.

We have increased local business coverage to two pages – and two business networking groups felt the coverage was so important to their communities they asked to sponsor the pages (one for our two Surrey editions, and another for our three Hampshire editions).

We publish several readers’ photos each week (one is used on the front page of our Living lifestyle section) and we now receive huge numbers of images, ensuring readers feel involved with the paper. The Living section comprises entirely local content.

Sir Ray Tindle has always said names and faces sell papers. We are still embracing that, which has helped us show weeks of sales increases.

Unlike many newspapers, the Herald is paper first, not digital first. Of course, the Herald websites are important, and breaking news always goes online first; our sites show greater numbers of unique users and page views than ever before.

The news that Jeremy Hunt was to stand against Boris Johnson was broken on the Herald website (and the video interview was shown on the BBC, ITV, Sky and many other news outlets).

But most exclusives are saved for the newspaper.

Councils see the Herald as a paper which continually holds them to account, asking them questions they would rather not answer: we were told we were like a ‘dog with a bone’ with our pollution campaigning.

We are out and about in the community very regularly. The message from local organisations is clear: the Herald is reborn.

A rapid sales decline halted. Healthy advertising revenue. Greater community involvement. More content. The ‘new’ tabloid Herald shows newspapers are far from dead.

Judges’ comments:

With a campaigning brief, the Farnham Herald is a superb example of a weekly title that roars. Tremendous local content and obvious coaction and respect for the communities it serves. The Have a Heart campaign shows just how effective the right cause can be.

Newry Reporter

Supporting statement

Family owned, the Newry Reporter has served the area for over 150 years.

With a small team and limited resources, we produce a high-quality weekly newspaper for the community.

The Reporter is the newspaper of choice because unlike other local newspapers we can and do make a difference with our campaigns and investigative journalism. We give local people a voice and we are trusted.

Chernobyl Aid Newry (CAN) travel to Belarus yearly to help those homed in horrendous conditions in asylums.

Twice a year and we highlight the plight of those they are helping. Harrowing pictures tell their own stories and it is from this publicity that CAN gets a boost in donations – a vital financial injection from readers.

Alfie Pentony (7) suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and is slowly dying.

In January 2019 his family asked for our help to raise awareness of a chance of life-saving treatment in the USA.

The awareness raised by the newspaper helped Alfie raise the funds needed get to the US where he has undergone treatment.

A friend of Lauren Fitzpatrick (14) contacted the Reporter in April 2019 after she was diagnosed with stage four high-risk neuroblastaoma. Following treatment, £234,000 was needed to allow Lauren to take part in a lifesaving trial in New York.

We highlighted Lauren’s plight on a regular basis and kept her appeal to the fore. The campaign was successful. Lauren has been to New York and signs are positive for her future.

Monica Heaney’s son Karl died in a car crash on the A1 Newry-Belfast road in May 2018. Monica is campaigning to make this road safer and we are supporting her in this work.

Department of Health proposals to close the nearest breast assessment unit to Newry [25 miles away] means added journey times to Belfast [45 miles] and stress for patients. We highlighted and raised questions with the Department – and the same for proposals to close the local hospital’s Stroke Unit.

The Newry Reporter was the only local newspaper to get [rare] access to the Department’s Permanent Secretary to put patients’ concerns and also to propose a possible solution to the Stroke services issue.

Our award-winning environmental campaign to clean-up Newry has continued with local community associations and political parties now involved to take up the mantle.

In 2019 we investigated, uncovered and exposed the following:

Local Council officials misled councillors over £90k of funding they claimed they secured for a project as a means of securing councillors’ approval for an additional £100k capital funding.

Investigations uncovered Council and government documents that proved funding was not secured, the officers did not disclose the full costs, nor that they intended to seek additional funding from a different budget.

The Council’s Deputy CEO was forced to publicly apologise to councillors.

We discovered there were three Council officials only project boards that Councillors were unware of for a £28m Newry Regeneration Project with no minutes kept from the board meetings since May 17.

Councillors have ruled minutes are to be kept and councillors put on these boards.

We named and shamed the councillors allegedly responsible for its failure to scrutinise the £28m Council project.

We also exposed a false £7m price tag claim made by the Council CEO for one build of the project. The true cost is nearer £9.5m.

The Council published an investigation report of the [then suspended and now gone] Deputy Chief Executive which was the result of a 12-month Reporter investigation into the procurement and erection of a £120,000 Big Screen.

The Council investigation, [although redacted] vindicated our work revealing, fraud, manipulation of staff, hindering of the investigation and no accountability to name but a few.

Working with the Southern Health Trust we promoted ‘acute care in the community’, ‘caring about the carers’, the new Renal and Direct Assessment units at Daisy Hill Hospital and difficulties faced by the ambulance service.

We dealt with social issues publishing a series of interviews from the founding of the Newry Rainbow Community 19 years ago to a young lesbian and the difficulties she faces.

We highlighted homelessness with one journalist helping and writing about Newry Helping the Homeless and their work in Dublin and Newry while another worked to get a homeless man out of a tent and into a house and a job.

South Armagh has 11 areas of social deprivation. We carried out a series of interviews with local councillors looking at the problems their constituents face, and what needs to be done to alleviate the issues people and businesses deal with.

In arts and drama our link with the Newry Musical Feis, which has some 14,000 competitors over 39 days, goes back to its founding over 90 years ago. We offer the main coverage of this huge event with photos and results while we also work with Warrenpoint Musical Feis, Newry Musical Society, Newpoint Players, Lislea Drama Festival and other arts groups and festivals within the district.

The core of the paper is our relationship with the community. Schools, Community Associations, charities, local businesses etc want to be seen in the paper. They want our journalists and photographers to cover their events, their successes, charitable work etc and this is reflected in the large number of community photographs we have in the paper each week.

With original editions going back over 150 years, we have an extensive history section which includes old articles and photographs and we work in collaboration with the local museum who provide us with weekly articles.

Each week our sports editor produces 20+ pages of local sport from GAA to soccer, bowls to darts, golf, pool, cycling, athletics, awards, previews and much in between.

This includes reports, fixtures, results and action photographs as well as interviews covering youth, ladies and men’s participation. We are the local contact for regional, national newspapers and broadcast media for our coverage of soccer and Gaelic football.

Judges’ comments

Just what a good local newspaper should be – at the heart of its community. Not afraid to tell it like it is, this is a paper that understands its readership and delivers. It’s not all hard news, there’s a lovely blend of what makes a community tick along. Not an easy trick to pull off but the Reporter does it with style.

Sunday Mercury

Supporting Statement

The Sunday Mercury has been serving the Midlands since 1918 with a recipe of hard news, investigation, human interest, humour and sport.

The three examples submitted for the Newspaper of the Year category find the newspaper playing to its strengths in the Sunday marketplace.


With a knife crime epidemic stalking the city, the Mercury’s Mike Lockley wanted to bring home the human impact behind the grim statistics.

So he invited the parents of three young men whose lives had been senselessly taken to meet as a group in the Sunday Mercury offices.

There, they were able to swap stories, compare notes, and discuss the lessons to be learned from their tragedies.

What emerged was a raft of ideas to save lives in the future, helping make up a 10-page special report headed ‘Lives Torn Apart By Knife Crime’.

The wishlist drawn up by the grieving mums and dads was sent to city MPs, who took up the knife crime issue in the Commons.

In the same edition, we carried an interview with the gym boss at the heart of a celebrity gym investigation, and a boxer who beat crack addiction to inspire others.

The Mercury’s mix of human interest, quirky stories, nostalgia and honour also included the bizarre take of a Great War bagpiper hero.

And there was the inspirational story of the marathon man mown down by a van, and his determination to run another marathon despite his ordeal.

All this plus a strong 20 pages of sport including the sacking of West Bromwich Albion boss Darren Moore and the local derby preview.


Print writer Alison Stacey was incensed when she saw advertisements for trophy hunting tours due to be showcased at Birmingham’s NEC.

The Mercury’s splash story brought home the horror of the safari holiday hunting business masquerading as conservation.

Such was the reaction of readers both in print and online that NEC show organisers banned the companies from appearing at the event.

The decision, and the Mercury’s role in bringing the trade to public attention, was applauded by readers and wildlife groups alike.

Alison also landed an interview with a mum whose descent into post-partum psychosis highlighted an important, rarely reported, condition.

But amidst the grim news, the Mercury’s sense of humour brought light relief in page leads such as ‘Spot The Ball’ (about overgrown football pitches) and ‘Malvern Thrills’ (a local swingers festival).

We looked back at the architect who transformed Birmingham’s skyline, who had just died at the age of 97, and thanked readers for their support of our Give A Child Health charity.

There are still 14 pages of sport, despite it being football’s close season, and the weekly entertainment pullout.

SEPTEMBER 29, 2019: How I Saved Pregnant Woman From Brothel

Crime & Investigations Editor Jeanette Oldham secured an exclusive interview with the hero cabbie at the heart of a big Midland crime story.

It was the first of a two-part investigation, followed in the next day’s Birmingham Mail with an exposé of the booming ‘pop up’ brothel trade.

Elsewhere in the edition, Mike Lockley took up the cause of the army veterans turned away from an Arnhem memorial service.

We told the story of our Win a Wedding winners – two hard-up NHS workers who could not afford the wedding of their dreams.

Twenty-four pages of sport show how the Mercury reaches the grassroots places no other title does, offering a unique sports service across all levels.

And Mike Lockley’s column continues in the tradition that won him the Columnist of the Year crown at last year’s Regional Press Awards.

The Sunday Mercury continues to offer a distinctly different read to its sister Birmingham Mail newspaper, and online BirminghamLive website.

Most of the stories are print-first or print only, retaining exclusivity in a Sunday market driven largely by casual purchase.

Judges’ comments:

A strong mixture of hard-hitting exclusives, community news and entertaining features and upbeat items. In short, a packed offering that must be a must-read for the communities the Mercury serves.

The Herald on Sunday

Supporting statement

What makes a quality Sunday paper?

  • Great exclusives written superbly for their target market?
  • The best insight, analysis and opinion to inform and stimulate debate?
  • A strong news agenda that is informative and engaging?
  • Fascinating and thought-provoking features, delving into every aspect of life in Scotland?
  • Fantastic use of pictures and design, so the paper is accessible and eye-catching?
  • Excellent digital performance, with growing audience and content topping ‘Most read’ lists long after publication day?
  • Great commercial partnerships and added-value supplements, bringing the best of Scotland to an audience in a highly targeted way?
  • Maximising efficiency and use of templates, so resources are concentrated on serving the readership, not the ego of a designer?

It’s no coincidence that these are the core values of the Herald on Sunday … and so it’s no surprise that such a new title (we’re still barely a year old) has established itself as a loud voice in a jam-packed marketplace, where new titles rarely last beyond a year.

They’re the values that have delivered stable circulations, growing digital audiences, healthy revenues across all platforms, reader confidence in the package we produce every week, and, most importantly, a solid contribution to the bottom line every week.

And what a package it is …

We’ve been consistently ahead of the pack on the most important issues for the people of Scotland, from scandals in Scotland’s NHS, to Brexit and the independence debate.

We’ve broken the biggest stories – from issues-based reads to good old-fashioned Sunday exclusives:

  • Questions over a picture that shocked the world
  • The infection crisis at Glasgow’s £842 million super-hospital
  • The former Scottish Tory leader who signed up for a bumper election night pay deal
  • The troubles facing our fishing fleets
  • The scandal of the Tinker Experiment ¬- a shocking attempt to erase an entire culture from history
  • Woman’s out-of-hours GP ordeal

The newspaper is a leading voice on the environment and climate change; we’re champions for Scotland’s countryside and those who make their living from it; we diligently hold a mirror to politicians and the powerful.

In short, we’ve spoken up for Scotland and its people. Intelligently, passionately and authoritatively. Insight, analysis and opinion, but with a real sense of humour.

What makes a great Sunday paper? Just take a look at The Herald on Sunday and you’ll find out all you need to know.

Judges’ comments

Simply superb offering. A tremendous year for The Herald and the results are there in its incredible range of hard-hitting exclusives and poignant news and features. A must-read surely for anyone living in Glasgow – indeed Scotland.

The Impartial Reporter

Supporting statement

At the Impartial Reporter we believe it has been an incredibly important year for us, one that showed how important local newspapers and local journalism is to our community.

2019 saw the Impartial Reporter produce a 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.

The allegations related to sexual abuse by people in positions of trust and power, including bus drivers, businessmen, a school principal, a childminder, Orangemen, police officers and others. The locations of the alleged abuse included schools, buses, Orange Halls, Council-managed toilets, etc.

All these alleged victims came to us independently and all of them were speaking out for the first time – each story gave others the confidence to speak out.

Many of them never got justice and were critical of the way in which their allegations had been handled by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) and other statutory bodies.

The stories questioned the established social order in Northern Ireland, exposed crime, informed our readers of what was allegedly going on in this small rural county and held those in power to account.

The allegations sparked a major review by the Police Service of Northern Ireland after a personal intervention by the then chief constable and in December 2019 several alleged abusers were arrested. This is currently the subject of a live investigation. There were public protests and meetings and calls to change the law. Counselling services saw an increase in victims seeking help and the issue was raised at Westminster and Stormont.

The investigation resonated with our community and proved that content is king and strong journalism matters. For example an expose on Orange Order alleged abuse increased our circulation year-on-year by 9.3 per cent selling 9,991 copies.

Our stories were followed up by Sky News, the Guardian and other outlets across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the UK. It was also the subject of specially commissioned documentaries on both BBC radio and BBC television.

Fundamentally the series of investigations gave a voice to victims to whom nobody was listening, who had been failed time and again by statutory bodies, who trusted this newspaper to tell their stories and hopefully justice will be delivered in time to these victims.

While this was a dominant story throughout the year, we hope also that the entries submitted reflect positively on our aim of being at the heart of all aspects of our community.

Brexit was and still remains an important issue with our circulation area actually crossing the Border with the Republic of Ireland while the health crisis and pressures on our local services are among the worst in the UK.

In October we teamed up with our local Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to campaign against rural isolation and loneliness during Positive Ageing Month. This was achieved by weekly articles on organisations and people making a difference in their community and fighting rural isolation. The series was a boost to those people working hard on an important issue but also provided vital information of services available to combat loneliness that readers may not have realised are there.

Indeed, we hope these entries reflect our desire to produce people-led stories backed by strong interviews not press releases that get to the heart of the issues affecting our community.

Farming and sport are major sectors in our community and we produce special sections in these areas. We run 20 pages of sport weekly backed up by strong photography while our Life and Style section is again a community led part of the paper highlighting the arts, entertainment and charity work.

Our digital performance is increasing all the time and we have a strong presence on social media which greatly increases the audience for the journalism you see in our entries, thereby ensuring that the Impartial Reporter remains a market leader in the local newspaper arena.

Judges’ comments

Producing a series of exclusive, powerful investigation into allegations of historical child sexual abuse the Impartial Reporter showed once again how it shows no fear nor favour in covering its patch. The paper’s campaign to combat rural isolation tackles a little-known but important topic.