Guardian journalists triumph at British Press Awards

Robert Booth named specialist journalist of the year for reporting on ‘social wrongs and lost voices of Britain’

Guardian journalists shone at the annual British Press Awards, picking up plaudits for reporting ranging from exclusives on the Grenfell Tower disaster to exposés of technology companies listening in on conversations.

Robert Booth, the Guardian’s social affairs correspondent, was awarded specialist journalist of the year for his “painstaking and in-depth reporting that highlights the social wrongs and lost voices of Britain”.

The judges highlighted his work exposing the dehumanisation of benefit claimants whose claims were being processed by a robot, alongside an episode of the Today in Focus podcast on the impact of youth centres being closed.

Alex Hern was crowned technology reporter of the year, having demonstrated “the need for specialist technology journalists to shine a light on the conflicts of big tech and privacy”. His work revealing how human contractors at Apple were able to listen to identifiable personal details when people used their Siri voice assistants forced the company to change its processes.

The judges gave Marina Hyde the title of political columnist of the year for her “genius approach” to exposing the failings of those at Westminster during the run-up to Britain’s departure from the EU. They said: “During a tumultuous and exhausting year, this journalist has given a much-needed injection of humorous brutality into politics.”

The Guardian’s former theatre critic Michael Billington, who stepped down after 48 years, won the critic of the year category, with praise for his “unofficial role as Britain’s most-loved and revered of critics”.

Robin McKie, the Observer’s science editor, was named the science reporter of the year.

Jess Cartner-Morley was highly commended for her fashion journalism, while the Guardian’s online operation was similarly praised in the website of the year category. Dr Frances Ryan was also praised by judges in the digital innovation by women in journalism category, a special award named in honour of former Guardian deputy editor Georgina Henry.

The awards, organised by the Society of Editors, cover work produced for national news outlets during 2019. They were originally intended to be unveiled at an industry event this month but this was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, the winners were announced online rather than at the usual evening awards ceremony, during which vocal journalists often make their views on the qualities of rival news outlets increasingly clear as the evening progresses.

The media are facing an increasingly uncertain financial future, as the coronavirus outbreak causes print newspaper sales to fall and advertisers to flee, making them increasingly reliant on support from readers.

Ian Murray, the chairman of the Society of Editors, said: “While the battle to defeat the Covid-19 virus and support the UK public at this time eclipses all other considerations, I do feel it is important to ensure the hard work and professionalism shown by the national press during 2019 does not go unrecorded.”

“We can see the tremendous work the press is carrying out at this difficult time, which is yet more evidence of the vital role our industry plays in our national life.”


Jim Waterson media editor

The GuardianTramp

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