The NUJ says today that it has saved the Regional Press Awards after Press Gazette's one time owner Wilmington announced the event was not going ahead this year due to lack of support from an industry in the grip of the worst recession in its history.
The Regional Press Awards were devised and run by Press Gazette but the event was retained by Wilmington when it sold the magazine to Progressive Media International.
The new event has its own website at NUJ Regional Press Awards. It will take place on Tuesday, 29 June, at Dingwalls in Camden, London, from 1pm. It will be free to enter and open to non-members of the NUJ.
The NUJ says the awards rescue is part of the union’s "Stand up for Journalism" initiative.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: "At a time when newspaper groups bemoan the profitability of the industry and cuts in staffing and budgets threaten quality journalism, we are proud to be celebrating inspiring local and regional newspaper journalism.
"It would be unacceptable to see the great work of local and regional journalists – in print and online - go unrecognised. The NUJ Regional Press Awards will be a celebration of tenacious, ethical, quality campaigning journalism and a recognition of the best in photography, design and writing."
It is understood that the NUJ aims to fund the event via a group of sponsors. Some have already pledged support and the union is hoping others will come forward. The event is planned to be "less lavish" than most awards ceremonies.
The categories are:
- Multimedia Journalist of the Year
- Reporter of the Year
- Columnist of the Year
- Feature Writer of the Year
- Sports Journalist of the Year
- Student Journalist of the Year
- Designer of the Year
- Photographer of the Year
- Sports Photographer of the Year
- Scoop of the Year
- Campaign of the Year
- Multimedia Publisher of the Year
- Newspaper of the Year
- Specialist Writer of the Year
- The Felix Dearden Reporting on Race Award
The NUJ said: "While bosses and their sponsors quaff champagne most local press journalists will be struggling to fill the paper with limited staff and no interest from their owners.
"So the NUJ is launching the Most Hypocritical Local Media Campaign of the Year award, aimed at all the papers who urge readers to save the local economy while chucking profit-making workers onto the dole."
A "winner" was never announced.
- Peter Sands, chairman of the Regional Press Awards' judges, said of the decision to scrap this year's awards: "If the regional press doesn't celebrate the excellence that runs through its newspapers, applaud the journalists who go that extra yard every day, recognise the editors who invest in off-diary work and innovation … then who will? I am particularly uncomfortable with the suggestion that we just applaud excellence during the good times. Those who work hard to maintain standards when the going gets tough deserve to be honoured."