Campaigning and investigative journalism has been honoured at the Society of Editors’ inaugural Media Freedom Awards.
The winners were praised for their “courage, dedication and bravery” and “vital work” in holding power to account.
The awards night at the Underglobe Theatre in London saw the Daily Mirror named the News Media Organisation Of The Year, while Netherlands-based open-source platform Bellingcat was named the International News Media Organisation Of The Year.
News agency PA Media was presented with the Judges’ Media Freedom Award for its championing of open justice on behalf of the wider news industry.
Dawn Alford, executive director of the society, said: “The winners of the Media Freedom Awards highlight not only the exceptional standard of public interest journalism but also the courage, dedication and bravery of journalists in the UK who often operate in dangerous and life-threatening situations both at home and abroad.
“We are honoured to recognise their outstanding achievements and thank them for the vital work that they do to hold power to account and report on behalf of the public.”
Of PA’s win, its editor-in-chief Pete Clifton said: “PA is passionate about open justice and I am delighted that has been recognised by the Society of Editors.
“We are in courts across the land, day in and day out, to ensure justice is seen to be done, and our journalists are never shy in challenging court orders that restrict their right to report proceedings.
Congratulations to @PA the recipient of the #MFA2022 Media Freedom Award for its commitment to maintaining open justice on behalf of the wider industry. The award was presented to @peteclifton by @michelledonelan. pic.twitter.com/hT7yGsrw6L
— Society of Editors UK (@EditorsUK) November 9, 2022
“Playing our part in the cameras in court project was another step forward for open justice.”
Pippa Crerar was named the Journalist Of The Year for her “Partygate” scoops while she was political editor of the Daily Mirror.
The newspaper also won Investigation Of The Year for its reports into Covid lockdown-breaking at the heart of Government.
The Daily Mail was given the Campaign Of The Year accolade for its expose into the dangers of smart motorways, and the Young Campaigner Award went to Mail reporter Isaan Khan for his investigations into allegations of racism at Yorkshire Cricket Club.
The Mail also scooped the Freedom Of Information Award for its exclusive into how the justice system had allowed more than 22,000 outstanding warrants to go unchecked for individuals who had failed to turn up at court.
The News in Portsmouth won the Regional Campaign Of The Year for its work against proposals for the controversial £1.2bn Aquind interconnector between France and the Hampshire city.
Belfast’s Sunday Life won Regional Investigation Of The Year for its Remembrance Sunday exclusive into a “show of strength” by one of Northern Ireland’s biggest crime and paramilitary groups, the South East Antrim UDA.
Connor Matchett of The Scotsman was named Regional Journalist Of The Year for work that included the exclusive that ministers had intervened in the publication of Covid care home death figures ahead of the 2021 Holyrood election.
Broadcast winners included the BBC’s Panorama programme for its investigation into the Post Office Horizon scandal while Sky News’s Alex Crawford was awarded the Foreign Correspondent Of The Year accolade for her reports from Afghanistan and Ukraine.
The Voice Newspaper – Britain’s only surviving black newspaper – was handed the Judges’ Special Award in honour of 40 years of campaigning for the community.
The Bob Satchwell Award – in memory of the society’s founding director who died in 2021 – was awarded to the individuals and organisations behind the campaign for cameras in the crown courts which earlier this year saw sentencing remarks broadcast from the Old Bailey in a landmark legal first.
Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan attended the awards, which saw more than 200 journalists from all sectors of the UK news media industry gather together.
The awards, presented by ITV News’s Lucrezia Millarini, were held in association with WeShop and sponsored by Camelot, the Google News Initiative and Newsworks.