British Press Awards 2006

The British Press Awards is an annual ceremony that has celebrated the best of British journalism since the 1970s. A financially lucrative part of the Press Gazette's business,[1] they have been described as "the Oscars of British journalism", or less flatteringly, "The Hackademy Awards".[2]

The British Press Awards 2006 were held at The Dorchester, Park Lane, London, on Monday 20 March 2006. Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow hosted the revamped ceremony with just 450 guests attending compared with more than 900 in previous years. There were 21 categories with a single overall sponsor rather than the 28 categories with individual sponsors of 2005.[3]

The judging process has two stages with Charles Wilson as Chairman of the Judges. The first stage chooses five entries (or six in case of a tie for fifth place) for the shortlists of each category and the second stage determines the winners. The Supplement of the Year, Cartoonist of the Year and Front Page of the Year categories are judged by independent panels of experts. Newspaper of the Year is now judged on an Academy-style voting system. The judging forum comprises 80 senior staff journalists and a Grand Jury of 20 non-affiliated senior media executives representing each of the national newspaper groups.[4]

Controversy leading up to the 2006 awards

Soon after the 2005 awards, ten editors of major newspapers released a joint statement announcing their boycott because of the 'decline in conduct and prestige'. The statement read, "The editors of The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, The Independent, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, the Daily Mail, and the Mail on Sunday believe the organisation of these awards brings little credit to the industry or to the newspapers who win them".[5] The New York Times's London correspondent wrote, "last night's ceremony — a mind-numbing parade of awards in 28 categories — was not a mutually respectful celebration of the British newspaper industry fuelled by camaraderie and bonhomie. It was more like a soccer match attended by a club of misanthropic inebriates".[6] Piers Morgan, unhappy about losing the Hugh Cudlipp Award to The Sun, launched “The REAL Newspaper of the Year Awards”, inviting Mirror readers to phone in their choice.[2]

Still choosing to boycott the 2006 event are Associated Newspapers (part of Daily Mail and General Trust plc), Telegraph Group (part of Press Holdings Limited) and Express Newspapers (part of Northern & Shell). Their titles include The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Express and the Sunday Express, the Daily Star, the London Evening Standard and Metro, though the Express Group's boycott started when it was bought by Richard Desmond in 2000.[7]

One of the concerns is over the new owners of Press Gazette, the organisation behind the awards, Piers Morgan and Matthew Freud. The neutrality of Freud has been questioned given his marriage to Rupert Murdoch's daughter and his PR business's deals with News International.[8] However, to reconcile his critics, Matthew Freud has appointed a new Chairman of the Judges, Charles Wilson, and implemented changes to the judging process to promote transparency and fairness. Now there are only 21 awards, none of which are privately sponsored, and the ceremony is earlier in the evening so as to encourage sobriety. Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, said that "a lot of the concerns I had with the organisation of the awards have been addressed. Anyway, there's not a viable alternative".[[9]

Simon Lewis, corporate affairs director at Vodafone, the new sponsor, says, "We are delighted to be able to work with Press Gazette to celebrate the best of British journalism," despite the fact that his brother Will Lewis, deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph, is boycotting the awards.[10]

Category shortlists

The following lists the shortlists published February 26, 2006.[11]

(Winner in bold) (Blue numbered boxes to the right of the nominations contain external links to relevant web pages)

National Newspaper of the Year

Reporter of the Year

Foreign Reporter of the Year

Scoop of the Year

Columnist of the Year

Political Journalist of the Year

Feature Writer of the Year

Interviewer of the Year

Specialist Writer of the Year

Critic of the Year

Sports Journalist of the Year

Young Journalist of the Year

Team of the Year

Business & Finance Journalist of the Year

Supplement of the Year

Front Page of the Year

Photographer of the Year

Sports Photographer of the Year

Cartoonist of the Year

Showbusiness Writer of the Year

The Hugh Cudlipp Award

The following shortlist for the Cudlipp Award was later.[33]


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