Fresh from my dispiriting flight of fantasy to the Oscars, I bring you a more earthly trophy polishing event: The British Press Awards.
I have the honour – and I genuinely mean that, folks, in the most unshowbizzy fashion – of being a judge again in these awards. The shortlist of entrants has just been announced on the Press Gazette website.
For the past couple of weeks I have been judging the submissions from the long-list of entrants for two categories – Interviewer of the Year and Scoop of the Year. It is a testing and time consuming task, and one that I conduct with a considerable sense of responsibilty and pressure, as well as pride.
The work that is produced by the nation’s hacks is quite awe-inspiring. I have been a journalist for 22 years now – I’ve got the neck ache and thinning knuckle cartilage to prove it – and all except one year has been spent writing for the national newspapers. It is a career that is as rewarding as it is exasperating.
But, it is when you get a chance to really examine, professionally, impartially, what is achieved day-in, day-out across our newspapers that you really see the broad and brilliant talent that blesses our rags.
Steady on, mate. I really mustn’t turn this into a complete kiss-kiss love-in. Any hack worth a round of drinks would take the piss and suspect I was angling for an extra drink at the Grosvenor. All I want to say is this:
On Scoops: the newspapers of this country produce more stories than anywhere else in the world. These stories set the agendas of TV and radio stations, magazines and websites in every corner of the planet. They ALL feed off us. Collectively, our newspapers are amazing.
On Interviewing: I know a lot about this beat. I’ve done it for virtually my entire career and I can tell you that it is often a labour-intensive, up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege (if I may bastardise a movie line). The quality of the content and prose in this year’s long-list entrants (30 of ’em) was exceptional. Only five writers make it to next week’s second round of judging.
But why on earth am I bothering to say this? Er, not sure really, except to maybe poke the ribs of the clueless, spoilt cynics, often the casual readers, who pick up a newspaper and too easily slag off the devoted work of the journalists who made it all happen.
Journalism is a tough career and one that is hardly well paid. These awards are a worthy reminder of the incredible work that is achieved each year in this business. Bravo to all those entrants.
All that said, mine’s a large one. I thenk you!