The Belfast Telegraph swept the boards at this year's Northern Ireland Media Awards – lifting the prestigious Newspaper of the Year gong for the fourth time in the last five years.
The daily newspaper and overall newspaper titles were among a haul of awards our journalists lifted at the 21st Coca-Cola CIPR Northern Ireland Media Awards.
Handing us the award for the fourth time since 2010, the judges said: "The Belfast Telegraph stands out in front of all the other papers every day.
"It displays amazing front page leads and features – it wins hands down."
Journalists, editors and programme makers from print, broadcast and online media in Northern Ireland gathered at the Mac theatre in Belfast on Friday night for the annual awards, hosted for the second year in a row by broadcaster Eamonn Holmes.
Belfast Telegraph Editor Mike Gilson lifted the major Journalist of the Year category.
Mr Gilson said: "It was a fantastic night for the Belfast Telegraph. I am very proud of the entire team at the newspaper. They're an extremely dedicated and talented bunch of people. Whether it be in the newspaper, online or on app we will continue to endeavour to deliver the best news service in Northern Ireland."
Daily Newspaper of the Year & Overall Newspaper of the Year. Pictured is Mike Gilson and Ed McCann The Belfast Telegraph with Chris Love CIPR NI & Nicci Gregg Coca Cola. Photo by SImon Graham/Harrison Photography
CIPR SUNDAY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR? Pictured is Martin Breen Sunday Life with Chris Love CIPR NI & Nicci Gregg Coca Cola. Photo yb Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
CIPR SCOOP OF THE YEAR? Pictured is Joanne Sweeney, The Belfast Telegraph with Chris Love CIPR NI & Mark Stewart, Chairman Pubs of Ulster. Photo by SImon Graham/Harrison Photography
CIPR FEATURE JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR Pictured is Linda Stewart, The Belfast Telegraph with Chris Love CIPR NI Chair & Julie McCabe , Massive PR. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
BUSINESS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR? Pictured is Margaret Canning, The Belfast Telegraph with Chris Love CIPR NI Chair & Simon Little, Danske Bank. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
Sunday Life team 2014
CIPR NEWSPAPER JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR ?Pictured is Liam Clarke, The Belfast Telegraph with Chris Love CIPR NI & Nicci Gregg, Coca Cola. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography
CIPR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMNT AWARD ?Pictured is Chris Love, CIPR NI Chair, Martn Breen Sunday Life, Martin Lindsay Lifetime Achievement winner and Phil Morgan, Deputy Chief Executive of the CIPR UK. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrion Photography
CIPR OVERALL JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR Pictured is Mike Gilson, The Belfast Telegraph with Chris Love CIPR NI, Bob Satchwell, Executive Director Society of Editors & Nicci Gregg Coca Cola
Numerous Tele writers were nominated, commended and awarded across all categories.
Political Editor Liam Clarke won the Newspaper Journalist of the Year award while reporter Amanda Ferguson was also shortlisted in the same category.
Reporter Joanne Sweeney won Scoop of the Year for "a sensational international" story about Dungannon drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly, while Business Editor Margaret Canning won the Business Journalist of the Year award and business reporter Clare Weir was highly commended in the same category.
Environment Correspondent Linda Stewart won Features Journalist of the Year and was shortlisted in the Specialist Journalist of the Year category. Consumer Correspondent Claire McNeilly was highly commended and features writer Kerry McKittrick was shortlisted in the same category.
Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life boxing correspondent David Kelly was highly commended in the Sports Journalist of the Year category and Heather Byrne was highly commended in the Production Journalist of the Year category.
David Fitzgerald was highly commended in Photographer of the Year category while Health Correspondent Victoria O'Hara was highly commended in the Campaign category for our Baby Hearts Christmas Appeal. The Belfast Telegraph was highly commended in the Supplement of the Year category for coverage of the G8 and our Out There and Weekend supplements were shortlisted in the same category.
Turning to our online efforts, The Belfast Telegraph was highly commended in the Media Platform category, with Claire Cromie shortlisted in the Digital Journalist of the Year category.
Meanwhile, Deputy Editor Gail Walker was shortlisted in the Columnist of the Year category and received a special mention from the judges.
"Any shortlist of Northern Irish columnists would not be complete without a mention of Gail Walker of the Belfast Telegraph whose consistency and diamond-sharp brilliance throughout the years sets the standard for others," the judges said.
Our sister publication Sunday Life was named Sunday Newspaper of the Year – for the fourth time in five years.
Topping off the triumph, former Belfast Telegraph and Sunday editor Martin Lindsay was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Belfast Telegraph Newspaper of the Year
The Belfast Telegraph has brought you the best in news, features and sport from Northern Ireland yet again — and that’s official.
In an unprecedented feat, we have now been named Newspaper of the Year in four out of the last five years. In what was a night of celebration, judges heaped praise upon our outstanding journalism, saying the newspaper stood out from its rivals every day.
Among the stories that we led the way on that resulted in the Belfast Telegraph being named Newspaper of the Year was Liam Adams’ conviction for sex abuse — and the questions it raised for his brother, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
Our extensive coverage and analysis of every angle of Barack Obama’s visit to Belfast ahead of last year’s G8 summit was another showcase entry for the newspaper.
We have won the top prize now on four occasions over the last five years — 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Liam Clarke: Newspaper journalist of the year
Political Editor Liam Clarke won Newspaper Journalist of the Year.
The judges said: “A powerful portfolio highlighted by a remarkable interview with Attorney General John Larkin and his agonising over whether or not to pursue prosecutions or public inquiries over murders pre-dating the Good Friday Agreement. It's an issue which continues to divide and convulse NI and the progress of the peace process.
“Plus a revealing and significant interview with Peter Robinson revealing his prevarication over whether he'd meet the new Pope.
Margaret Canning: Business Journalist of Year
Business Editor Margaret Canning won Business Journalist of the Year.
The judges said: “This entry stands head and shoulders above the rest. Margaret Canning, who demonstrates breadth, exclusivity and a range of differing stories: campaigning, with royal support, on apprenticeships; standing up the shopping centre receivership story; and investigating the vulnerable state of a pub chain.
“Evidence of much digging, following up and following through.”
Joanne Sweeney: Scoop of the Year
Reporter Joanne Sweeney won Scoop of the Year for her exclusive on a Dungannon woman being arrested in Peru on drugs charges.
The judges said: “Joanne’s story turned into a sensational international scoop about drug mules.
“She was the journalist that winkled this story out from Facebook and her journalistic instincts kicked in when the family were reluctant to talk to her,” the judges said.
“Her forensic digging skills revealed a much bigger story that was followed by media all over the world. She has the determination of a modern journalist.”
Linda Stewart: Feature Journalist of the Year
Environment Correspondent Linda Stewart won Features Journalist of the Year.
The judges said: “Linda Stewart wrote about the ‘lost’ River Farset, bottle-versus-breast for the new-born baby, and the highs and lows of cultivating your own allotment.
“You don’t get more varied than that.
“Linda has a great ability to tell a story, draw on her own experience and get on her wellies, at least for the river tracing and allotment digging. Her writing keeps you interested from beginning to end.”
Mike Gilson: Overall Journalist of Year
Mike Gilson, Belfast Telegraph editor since 2009, won the prestigious overall 2014 Journalist of the Year award.
The judges said: “This award was for the Belfast Telegraph’s bravery and its overall editorial performance across all parts of the paper and all its news platforms.
“Mike Gilson has clearly created and leads a formidable team of journalists who are either winners or were extremely hard to beat in most categories of the awards.”