Belfast Telegraph named UK Regional Newspaper of Year
Publication scoops top accolade at gala awards
The Belfast Telegraph has been named the UK’s Regional Daily/Sunday Newspaper of the Year.
The Telegraph received the accolade at the prestigious Regional Press Awards ceremony in London yesterday.
Making the announcement, organisers the UK Society of Editors said the Belfast Telegraph had been recognised for a "truly exceptional year".
"The paper prides itself as Northern Ireland’s leading daily in print and online, with an outstanding 148-year reputation for impartial, in-depth coverage," it said. "Selling across the sectarian and political divides to unionists and nationalists, Catholics and Protestants, this paper demands to be read."
Among the factors judges based their decision on were stunning front pages featuring stories about the consequences of the lack of a functioning Assembly at Stormont, and coverage of the rape trial of former Ulster Rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, who were both acquitted.
Journalist Lyra McKee was posthumously honoured at the ceremony as the recipient of the Journalists’ Charity Award. Her sister Nichola Corner received a standing ovation when she accepted the accolade on Lyra’s behalf.
Belfast Telegraph editor Gail Walker said: "I am delighted that the Belfast Telegraph has been named Newspaper of the Year at the Society of Editors’ Regional Press Awards. I’m very proud of the entire team at the newspaper — they are incredibly hard-working and talented and this award is a tribute to the quality journalism they produce every day. It’s wonderful to receive this recognition at a national level.
"I also found it especially poignant that Lyra McKee, who was murdered by the New IRA last month, was honoured at the ceremony in London. Lyra wrote for the Belfast Telegraph and I’m certain that had she lived, such was her remarkable talent, that she would have been picking up awards at this event for her journalism in years to come."
As well as being named best regional newspaper across the UK (circulation over 15,000), Belfast Telegraph journalists were also recognised for their achievements. Sports reporter Gareth Hanna (left) was highly commended in the Digital Live Sports Reporter category, and Sunday Life sports editor Paul Ferguson (far left) was highly commended in the Weekly Sports Journalist category.
Congratulating the Telegraph, broadcaster Stephen Nolan tweeted last night: "Many congratulations to Gail and her team. Local newspapers play a vital role in NI journalism and the Bel Tel is at the top of its game."
Northern Ireland weekly paper the Newry Reporter was also a winner at yesterday’s event, picking up Campaign of the Year for its crusade to clean up the Co Down city.