Nearly 200 journalists and editorial executives were told at the London Press Club Awards of the vital role played by the traditional media.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “This event is about acknowledging and celebrating great journalism, something we must continue to do, because although the media landscape is undoubtedly changing, what will never change is our need for a strong, fair and vibrant free press reporting the truth and holding power to account.
The Mayor had presented the London of the Year Award presented posthumously to PC Keith Palmer, who was killed in last year’s Westminster terror attack, The Londoner of the Year Award. The award was received on behalf of PC Palmer’s family by Metropolitian Police Commissioner Cressida Dick who paid tribute to PC Palmer’s dedication to policing. She also praised journalists for their coverage of terror attacks in London last year.
“I think among many other things you did was to show people in London, our country and beyond, what our police are like – who they are, what they are,” she said. “Their courage, integrity and passion in their work – epitomised by Keith. He was a role model and we miss him very much.”
During the awards, Martin Lewis had a message for Facebook as he collected the prize of Business Journalist of the Year at the London Press Club Awards 2017 yesterday: “Screw you.”
The Money Saving Expert founder is currently suing the social media giant in the High Court for allegedly publishing scam adverts that use his name to con people out of money, which he says has damaged his reputation.
Lewis also made an impassioned speech in support of journalism to guests at the lunch event in Stationer’s Hall, London, as he collected his award.
“Many people don’t realise I’m a journalist, they think I’m a financial adviser,” he said. “I’m not. I’m proudly and loudly a journalist
“I believe we have an incredible trade that, done right, can make a real difference in people’s lives. They talk about journalists not being trusted – well, it doesn’t have to be that way.
“It’s important that we change the way we talk about our profession. It is too often derided.”
He added: “It’s not all about scoops – sometimes it’s just about explaining and educating people about how they need to live their lives. I do it in the world of money. If we do it right, people will be interested.”
Lewis also told editors they were wrong to see money journalism as a poor relation to business journalism, saying: “The pound in your pocket affects everybody’s lives, we need to talk about it, we need to not be shy about it…”
Other winners included Sky News presenter Kay Burley, who was named Broadcast Journalist of the Year at the event.
Print Journalist of the Year was awarded to Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman.
Buzzfeed UK’s Heidi Blake was named Digital Journalist of the Year for her work leading the online-only title’s investigations unit, which recently exposed 14 mysterious deaths allegedly linked to Russia in the UK and US that are now being examined by police and the intelligence services.
Scoop of the Year went to The Sun’s Tom Newton-Dunn and Harry Cole for their “Pest Minster” story uncovering evidence of widespread sexual harassment in Westminster.
Newton-Dunn, the paper’s political editor, said the pair shared the award with other political journalists who had worked on the scandal, including those at the Telegraph and Sunday Times.
The Mail on Sunday was named Sunday newspaper of the year, with editor Geordie Greig saying “Sunday journalism thrives and does make a difference” as he collected the gong.
Daily Newspaper of the Year went to the Times for the second year running.
Deputy editor, Emma Tucker, said 2017 had been a “fantastic year” at the paper. She said it had been a “chance for use to demonstrate our investment in quality, premium journalism and analysis – all the things we excel at”.
She also revealed that the Times now had 3.5m registered users, “many of whom we hope to convert into paid subscribers”.
The Edgar Wallace Award for writing or reporting of the highest quality went to Times columnist and author Sathnam Sanghera. He used his speech to raise the issue of a lack of diversity in the media.
He said: “I think on a basic business level, this is a bit of a disaster. So many of your biggest stories from Windrush to Rotherham involve brown people and the fact we don’t have that many people from these communities in our newsrooms means on a basic level we are missing stories.”