JOURNALISM: SCOTTISH MEDIA REVIEW BY HAMISH MACKAY

Pippa Crerar stars at the British Journalism Awards

SCOTTISH MEDIA REVIEW BY HAMISH MACKAY

Edinburgh-born journalist Pippa Crerar has hit the New Year with her career at a splendid all-time high – a pinnacle she has reached amid paeans of praise for her endeavours in 2022.

Crerar notched up a remarkable hat-trick at the 11th British Journalism Awards ceremony – winning the Journalist of the Year, Political Journalist of the Year and Women in Journalism’s Woman of the Year categories. She triumphed principally for her sterling work for the Daily Mirror on the Partygate scandal which engulfed Boris Johnson’s premiership.

Accepting her awards to a standing ovation, Crerar, 47, who formerly worked for The Guardian and returned to it last summer as political editor, told the audience at the awards ceremony in London’s Hilton Park Lane: ‘This has been an incredible year for British political journalism. There are a lot of political journalists in this room that have been nominated. Some have won awards, some haven’t. But I am very conscious that there has been a huge number of stories – there’s been a huge lot going on in British politics, frankly, [and] it looks like the government’s going to continue helping us out on that front for a wee bit longer’.

However, Crerar pointed out that it was Boris Johnson – not she or any of the other reporters who broke Partygate stories – that brought down his Tory government. And she emphasised that the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ‘nothing to fear from me’ if he delivers on his promises and is transparent and accountable.

Crerar dedicated her awards to ‘the Daily Mirror, its inspirational editor, Alison Phillips, and all the team there’. She broke her string of Partygate scoops, as well as the 2020 Dominic Cummings scandal, while at the Daily Mirror.

Speaking to Press Gazette after her awards triumphs, Crerar said she is ‘loving’ being back at The Guardian, explaining: ‘They’ve been incredibly supportive. I mean it’s helped by the fact that there has been a huge amount going on in British politics. My one concern was that I’d leave the Daily Mirror and nothing would happen, and what would I have to write about? And yet, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have gifted us stories over the last three months. Not necessarily so good for the country, but journalistically, it’s been incredible’.

Crerar said the Daily Mirror would ‘always have a piece of my heart, definitely. Alison Phillips and [deputy editor] Tom Carlin and the team are incredible, inspirational leaders,’ she emphasised, continuing: ‘The Daily Mirror doesn’t have the resources of some other media organisations, yet they have sort of a tenacity and a heart that I think has seen them do incredible things over the last few years. They gave me the freedom and the support – and that really counts for a lot’.

Crerar’s background is that she attended Newcastle University, where she studied English, and then was a Scott Trust Bursary recipient on City University’s postgraduate newspaper journalism course. Before joining the Daily Mirror, she worked as political correspondent and City Hall editor for the Evening Standard throughout Boris Johnson’s tenure as London Mayor. She has also previously been deputy political editor at The Guardian where she was a presenter of the Politics Weekly podcast.

She was the Daily Mirror’s political editor from 2018 to 2022 and chair of the Parliamentary Press Gallery in 2020/21. The highly-regarded British Journalism Review observed of Crerar: ‘Our profession should ultimately be about only one thing: fearless truth-telling and truthful reporting, regardless of the consequences. She’s shown how the job should be done, and in the process played a major role in turning the Daily Mirror back into a paper of which its legendary campaigning boss Hugh Cudlipp could feel proud’.

Crerar was Political Reporter of the Year at the Society of Editors Press Awards in 2020 where she also won Scoop of the Year. The judges observed then: ‘Crerar has had a fantastic year, showing tenacity, courage and persistence in her reporting’. She won Scoop of the Year at the British Journalism Awards in 2020 and at the London Press Club Awards 2020/21.

You can source a full list of this year’s British Journalism Awards on the Press Gazette website.

Shortlists published for Regional Press Awards 2022

The shortlists for the UK’s Regional Press Awards for 2022 sees 136 journalists and publishers in contention for the top prizes. The awards have been relaunched by Haymarket plc and the News Media Association in partnership with HoldtheFrontPage (HTFP) media website. The awards ceremony will be held in London on 8 March.

Scottish journalists and Scottish newspaper titles feature prominently in the shortlists with the DC Thomson newspaper group and Newsquest Scotland very much in contention. A host of experienced editors and journalism trainers took part in the judging under the chairmanship of Peter Sands, former editor of The Northern Echo, and Gail Walker, who formerly edited the Belfast Telegraph.

Because of pressures on space, I have edited the shortlists to feature only the Scottish-based journalists and Scottish newspapers in the running for top awards. You can access the full shortlists here.

Here are the Scottish shortlisted entries:

Campaign of the Year
The Herald – Covid-19 memorial campaign
The Press and Journal/Evening Express – The Big Food Appeal

Columnist of the Year
Catriona Stewart – The Herald/Glasgow Times
Kerry Hudson, Catherine Deveney and Alex Watson – The Press and Journal

Digital Initiative of the Year
The Press and Journal – Highland League Weekly
The Courier/The Press and Journal – WW1 Remembrance
The Courier/The Press and Journal – Tracking the NHS in Scotland

Feature Writer of the Year
Ellie House – DC Thomson
Catriona Stewart – The Herald/Glasgow Times

Front Page of the Year
The Herald – Cost of living crisis
The Herald on Sunday
 – Russian invasion of Ukraine

News Brand of the Year (small)
Evening Express, Aberdeen

News Website of the Year
The Courier, Dundee

Photographer of the Year
Steven MacDougall and Mhairi Edwards – both DC Thomson

Reporter of the Year – Daily
Dale Haslam – DC Thomson
Martin Williams – The Herald/The Herald on Sunday
Martyn McLaughlin – Scotland on Sunday

Reporting Communities Award
The Herald/Glasgow Times – focus on Govanhill, Glasgow

Scoop of the Year
Scotland on Sunday
The Scotsman
The Herald/The Herald on Sunday
The Herald

Specialist Journalist of the Year
Martin Williams – The Herald/The Herald on Sunday
Martyn McLaughlin – The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday

Sports Journalist of the Year
Alan Temple – DC Thomson

Better circulation performance at three Scottish tabloids

Print decline across the board continued generally among the UK’s national newspapers in November although there was better news for three Scottish tabloids – especially DC Thomson’s Sunday Post. It was the only newspaper not to report a decline month-on-month as its circulation grew by 88 copies to a sale of 46,586 – up 0.2%, on average. However, it was down by 20% year-on-year.

The Daily Record sold an average of 64,500 copies in November – only down 1% month-on-month although 17% year-on-year, while the Sunday Mail’s circulation was 62,118 – only down 1% but 18% year-on-year.

The smallest drop was at the daily which saw its print circulation decline by 3% year-on-year to 138,782. The biggest was at the free Evening Standard which dropped its distribution by 27% to 319,485. Among paid newspapers, it was Reach tabloid the Sunday People that dropped to 77,300 – a 23% drop compared to November 2021.

The Daily Mail remains the biggest paid-for print newspaper of those that publicly release their ABC circulations, staying just above 800,000. The free title Metro had an average distribution of 977,077 in November.

The ABC figures do not include The SunTimes and Telegraph newspaper stables which have all chosen to keep their circulations private since the start of 2020. The Guardian and The Observer joined them in September 2021.

The last ABC figures for these titles were: The Sun: 1,210,915 (March 2020); The Sun on Sunday: 1,013,777 (March 2020); The Sunday Times: 647,622 (March 2020) The Times: 365,880 (March 2020); Daily Telegraph: 317,817 (December 2019); Sunday Telegraph: 248,288 (December 2019); The Observer: 136,656 (July 2021); and The Guardian: 105,134 (July 2021).

Privatisation of Channel 4 is unlikely

Daily Business news website reports that privatisation of Channel 4 looks unlikely to go ahead after a leaked letter to the Prime Minister from UK Culture Secretary, Michelle Donelan, LEFT, has revealed she is against a sale.

The letter is said to reveal Donelan’s preference for ‘better ways to ensure C4’s sustainability’ than selling off the publicly-owned broadcaster. If the recommendation is accepted by Downing Street, it will represent a significant U-turn on plans announced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government last year. The proposed sale had prompted a wave of opposition.

In the letter, leaked to the News Agents podcast, Donelan wrote: ‘After reviewing the business case, I have concluded that pursuing a sale at this point is not the right decision’. She is said to have informed the Prime Minister that the television sector ‘would be very disrupted by a sale at a time when growth and economic stability are our priorities’.

Should you wish to get in touch with me, please email me at: mackay858@btinternet.com

Caithness-born Hamish Mackay is now in his 57th year as an occasional/sometimes regular contributor to the UK’s exceedingly diverse media market. This column appears weekly in the Scottish Review.

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