DC Thomson Media, whose newspaper publications include the Press and Journal
), the Evening Express
, The Courier
, the Evening Telegraph
and the Sunday Post
, has developed a new, innovative group-wide editorial set-up aimed at transforming its dealings with the communities each newspaper serves. The new set-up has been named the News Brands Apollo transformation programme and is headed by Richard Neville.
In an announcement, which apparently took the UK media industry entirely by surprise, a spokesperson for the Dundee-based major publishing company, told me: 'As part of the News Brands Apollo transformation programme, DC Thomson Media is moving towards a newsroom built around specialist teams serving specific audiences. Politics will be a focus for the business over the coming months as we near the Scottish elections' [in May, 2021].
The spokesperson said: 'David MacDougall will be joining the business to head up a specialist team of political reporters. David's appointment is part of the [News Brand] Apollo transformation programme currently being undertaken by DC Thomson Media. The programme will see the business transform to be able to better serve communities with compelling, relevant content digitally and in print'.
MacDougall joins DC Thomson Media from his current role as executive editor of News Now
in Finland, where, according to the company '... his career has seen him take on roles internationally across all mediums – focusing recently on digital publishing'. He has previously worked internationally for organisations including the BBC, The Guardian
, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek
, USA Today
, the Daily Mail
and the Huffington Post
Richard Neville commented: 'I am delighted David is joining us at what is an extremely exciting time for the business. As politics leader, David will play a crucial role in leading a team of talented political reporters. Politics has never mattered more and I am thrilled that David is going to lead our politics reporting – delivering quality content to our audiences'.
Operating across DC Thomson Media's four daily titles, MacDougall will work with the politics team to cover the most important issues in the Scottish Parliament and the UK Parliament as well as across the north and east of Scotland.
MacDougall told me: 'I am very much looking forward to returning to Scotland to work with DC Thomson Media and the politics team at a fascinating time both for Scottish politics, and as the business embarks on innovative new ways of bringing journalism to readers and viewers. After many years as a foreign correspondent, covering campaigning and elections in other countries, it's exciting to embark on telling those stories now from a different perspective that is at the same time very new but very familiar. And as a Fifer, I have to say it's good to be coming home'.
DC Thomson Media also announced a number of internal appointments, including Richard Prest taking on the role of head of content development; Alan McCabe as head of product development and the Evening Telegraph's
current deputy editor, Ross Logan, as head of print in Dundee.
Meanwhile, the two regional morning daily newspapers, P&J
and The Courier,
in a joint venture with BT, have pledged to deliver 25,000 free newspapers between now and Christmas – targeted at those who need it most. Frank O'Donnell, editor-in-chief of the P&J
and the Evening Express
, pointed out: 'Thanks to BT, which is funding the scheme, many vulnerable and elderly residents will be able to access our newspapers… the mark of a newspaper's connection with its community is to be there when it matters'.
Dan McCrum of the Financial Times
) has been named the British Journalism Awards Journalist of the Year for his investigation into German payments company Wirecard, which exposed a multi-billion euro fraud.
The Press Gazette awards recognised the best public interest journalism for a UK audience in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday 9 December owing to COVID-19 restrictions.
Scotland has done very well in the awards front and in our list of the winners and the highly-commended we give the judges' remarks in full where they apply to Scottish award winners. I will have a detailed look a the Scottish award winners in my next column scheduled for 16 December.
was named News Provider of the Year for a record third time. The BBC's Emily Maitlis, The Guardian's
Marina Hyde and Matt Lawton of The Times
were among the big winners in a year like no other for the industry.
Scoop of the Year was jointly awarded to The Guardian's
Matthew Weaver and the Daily Mirror's
Pippa Crerar and Jeremy Armstrong for revelations that former top political aide Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules.
New this year was the Barbara Blake-Hannah Award named after the UK's first black on-screen TV news reporter. The award, for the best up-and-coming BAME journalist, went to Kuba Shand-Baptiste of The Independent
The inaugural Public Service Award went to the Daily Mail
for its Mail Force campaign to provide NHS staff and care workers with PPE. The judges said this was 'an outstanding piece of journalism which exemplifies the extent our trade can be a force for good'.
reporter Stuart Ramsay won the Foreign Journalism prize for his coverage of the coronavirus from Italy, including a report from an Italian hospital ward in March which was viewed more than 100m times online.
Press Gazette editor-in-chief and chairman of the judges, Dominic Ponsford, said the awards would 'provide a vaccine which I believe is almost 100% effective against any doubts that journalism is the most important and exciting job in the world... Despite furloughs, pay cuts and the challenge of swapping the newsroom for the spare room and the "Zoom room", there has been a huge amount to celebrate and admire about the way journalists have risen to the challenge of covering the biggest story since World War Two,' he added.
Press Gazette recruited some 30 new judges for this year, bringing the total to 80, and made efforts to ensure greater diversity on the judging panel. A record 900 entries were received, representing every major news organisation in the UK, boosted by efforts to improve the diversity of entries with free entry for women and BAME journalists who did not have an employer willing to cover their costs.
'The result is a set of finalists which is more diverse in every way than we have ever had before,' said Ponsford.
Full list of British Journalism Awards winners and highly commended entries:
Arts and Entertainment Journalism
WINNER: Killian Fox – 1843 magazine, The Economist
Highly commended: Zing Tsjeng – Vice UK
WINNER: Dan McCrum, Olaf Storbeck and Stefania Palma – Financial Times
WINNER: Paul Brand and Dominique Heckels – ITV News
Highly commended: Anna Mikhailova – Daily Telegraph
Journalism Innovation, sponsored by Google Digital News Initiative
WINNER: Roger Cox – The Scotsman Sessions, The Scotsman
The judges said: 'This was a different, warm and appropriate response to the pandemic just as everyone's access to live events had stopped and their stress levels were high. It kept artists going and it was great to see a newspaper get involved and offer a solution rather than watch from the sidelines'.
WINNER: Marina Hyde – The Guardian
WINNER: Anthony Devlin – Getty Images
New Journalist of the Year
WINNER: Rianna Croxford – BBC News
The judges said: 'Rianna is a great investigative journalist who constantly reports stories that often go overlooked at the BBC'.
Barbara Blake-Hannah Award
WINNER: Kuba Shand-Baptiste – The Independent
Feature Writer of the Year
WINNER: Sophie Elmhirst – The Guardian
Highly commended: Ashitha Nagesh – BBC News
Local and Regional Journalism
WINNER: Jonathan Gibson – Inside Out West Midlands, BBC Birmingham
WINNERS: Stephen Grey, Andrew MacAskill, Ryan McNeill, Steve Stecklow, Tommy Wilkes – Reuters
Health and Life Sciences Journalism
WINNERS: Jack Foster, Fraser Knight – Global's Newsroom Scotland
The judges said: 'This was a robust piece of investigative journalism which got results. It was hard-edged local news reporting at its very best and the fact it is on regional radio gives it even more strength. A horrific story that took effort and passion to expose – and to force an outcome'.
WINNER: Matt Lawton – The Times
Highly commended: Jeff Powell – Daily Mail
Highly commended: Mark Daly, Calum McKay, Kate McDonald, Shelley Jofre, Karen Wightman – BBC Scotland/Panorama
The judges said: 'This agenda-setting programme had a widespread impact in athletics, raising serious questions about its governance and Mo Farah's reputation'.
Interviewer of the Year
WINNER: Emily Maitlis – BBC Newsnight
Highly commended: Jan Moir – Daily Mail
The judges said Scottish-born Moir's interview with Barbara Amiel was 'the laugh out loud interview of the year'. 'No-one can rival Jan Moir's comic touch and eye for both detail and hilarious colour,' they said.
Highly commended: Emma Barnett – BBC 5 Live
Foreign Affairs Journalism
WINNER: Stuart Ramsay – Sky News
Technology Journalism, sponsored by Huawei
WINNER: Stephanie Kirchgaessner – The Guardian
Highly commended: Karl Flinders and editorial team – Computer Weekly
Marie Colvin Award
WINNER: Sophia Yan – Daily Telegraph
Crime and Legal Affairs Journalism
WINNERS: Samantha Poling, Eamon T O Connor, Shelley Jofre and Mona McAlinden – BBC Scotland
The judges said 'huge journalistic skill' was involved in putting together Disclosure: Who killed Emma?
which they said 'forensically examines a police operation and puts prime suspects in front of the camera'. They added: 'This investigation uncovered damning shortcomings in the police investigation and shed new light on an unsolved murder'.
Highly commended: Lizzie Dearden – The Independent
WINNER: Lawrence Dunhill – Health Service Journal
Highly commended: Zak Garner-Purkis – Construction News
Scoop of the Year
WINNERS: Matthew Weaver – The Guardian and Pippa Crerar and Jeremy Armstrong – Daily Mirror
Anti-corruption Investigation of the Year, sponsored by Global Witness
WINNERS: Juliette Garside, David Pegg, Hilary Osborne, Jason Burke and Paul Lewis – The Guardian
Investigation of the Year
WINNERS: Richard Bilton, Andrew Head, David Gray, David Howell, Seamas McCracken, Farhad Mohammadi, Matt Bardo, Hannah O'Grady and Rachel Jupp – BBC Panorama (in collaboration with Jonathan Calvert, George Arbuthnott and David Collins of The Sunday Times Insight Team)
Highly commended: Dan McCrum, Olaf Storbeck, Sam Jones, Paul Murphy and Helen Warrell – Financial Times
Highly commended: Mobeen Azhar, Jeremy Lee, Wes Thomas and Catey Sexton – BBC Three
Campaign of the Year
WINNER: Time To End Cystic Fibrosis Drug Scandal, Daily Express (Chris Riches)
Highly commended: Mail Force, Daily Mail (Robert Hardman)
News Provider of the Year
WINNER: Financial Times
The judges said: 'Coronavirus was the story which dominated this year and it was a story which produced an abundance of data. The Financial Times
did a superb job using skills honed over many years covering the numbers surrounding business to explain an unfolding human tragedy. Its charts and visualisations explaining the pandemic became the most read content in its history. Its landmark investigation of the year on Wirecard helped bring down one of Germany's most garlanded companies. The paper showed huge courage and needed all its resources to face down an aggressive and well-resourced opponent which appeared to have the backing of the German state. Across the board the FT
has continued to punch well beyond its niche with quality journalism which has been quite simply exemplary. For a record third year the FT
is an extremely worthy news provider of the year'.
Public Service Award
WINNER: Mail Force, Daily Mail (Robert Hardman)
The judges said: 'There are few news organisations in the world which can rival the Daily Mail
for campaigning verve and sheer chutzpah when it takes on an issue. At a time when it felt like the country, and the newspaper industry, was on its knees the Mail showed that journalism can do far more than just expose problems and shortcomings – it can channel its energy towards providing solutions, in this case in dramatic and potentially life-saving fashion'.
Journalist of the Year, sponsored by Camelot
WINNER: Dan McCrum – Financial Times
The judges on McCrum's investigation into Wirecard: 'This was brave financial journalism carried out by a dogged journalist and backed with huge commitment by the financial times. Dan McCrum faced down intimidation, surveillance and personal threats as well as a campaign of disinformation to bring down one of Germany's most garlanded businesses'.
For links to articles, see the BJA 2020 shortlist
Alastair Machray, former editor of one of the UK's leading evening newspapers – the Liverpool Echo
– is claiming that regional journalists are being treated as 'subhuman' by readers during the COVID-19 crisis.
Machray has hit out at 'naysayers and COVID-19 derniers' who have abused Liverpool Echo
staff during the pandemic – claiming that they have treated reporters 'like punchbags'. His comments follow the evening paper's political editor, Liam Thorp, describing the abuse of regional media colleagues as 'out of control'.
Machray, whose departure from the industry after 25 years as an editor – 15 of them with the Liverpool Echo
, was announced earlier this year, spoke out in an interview with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which has been examining how the local news industry has fared across the globe during the current coronavirus crisis.
Machray told the Reuters Institute: 'The naysayers, the COVID-19 derniers, are extremely aggressive online and phrases like "scaremongering" were trotted out hundreds of times a day. And it got very nasty, you know: people regard journalists as punch bags – sort of subhuman'. His comments were supported by Sinead Corr, news editor of the Bishop's Stortford Independent,
and Nottingham Post
editor, Natalie Fahy, who were both interviewed for the Reuters Institute study.
Corr pointed out: 'There has been hostility, and we get that some people are scared or feeling vulnerable and shooting the messenger is how they deal with that. There have been some COVID-19 derniers too who want to rubbish anything we write about the virus. I see the comments on Facebook and people troll me. Maybe it's just the ones that hate that shout the loudest'.
On a more positive note, the study, by former Index on Censorship editor-in-chief Rachael Jolley, revealed that some English regional newspapers are experiencing home delivery boosts during the pandemic. The Institute reported that home deliveries of the Derby Telegraph
rose by 35% compared to 2019. And at the Nottingham Post,
they were up by around 8% during the same period.
Ranvir Singh progresses with great élan on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing
) Saturday night show, which has the nation in its thrall as we desperately seek any conceivable kind of diversion from the bleak, harsh realities of the coronavirus pandemic. I really don't think that serious journalists should be taking part in a show which so often caters for giant egos and would-be celebrities.
Ranvir is the political editor of ITV's Good Morning Britain
) news/current affairs programme. She is a serious, very competent journalist and broadcaster, but I am so seriously pissed off by how her continuing success leads to all this sycophancy and gush and mush emanating from GMB's
main presenters, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, compounded by it being immediately followed by the same gush and mush from Lorraine Kelly on her show. I find it embarrassing and seriously boring. However, unforgivably, it gets in the way of what ITV got its licence for in respect of programmes such as GMB
– a news programme which should be wholly concentrating on vital issues such as the Brexit talks impasse and COVID-19's deadly tentacles.
I do wish Ranvir well. She is a very personable lady with a first-class brain whom, sadly and demeaningly, is forced to frequently remind us she is not in a passionate love affair with her dance partner, the dashing Giovanni Bernice, and has a very demanding job and young daughter to worry about. I sincerely hope she is the last journalist to appear on SCD
lest I am tempted to take to the dance floor myself. This would bring the ratings down so bloody fast that the BBC's bigwigs would drown in a sea of apoplexy. You have been warned!