The region’s most talented writers, broadcasters and photographers were honoured at the inaugural O2 Media Awards in Greater Manchester and Lancashire tonight (Thursday, October 1, 2009).

The winning line-up featured a mixture of daily and weekly newspapers including The Manchester Evening News, which scooped the award for Newspaper of the Year. Judges said the paper was ‘as good as any regional newspaper you might find anywhere in the country and was putting out quality editions day after day.’

The Gazette in Blackpool won the award for O2 Editorial Team of the Year for ‘punching well above its weight’ and Gazette reporter William Watt was also crowned Digital Journalist of the Year.

The Lancashire Evening Telegraph’s young reporter Catherine Pye was identified as one of the region’s rising stars and picked up the O2 Young Journalist of the Year award.

Amongst the weekly newspapers, the Salford Advertiser’s Lucy McGuire was named Feature Writer of the Year and the Rochdale Observer’s Tim Bradley was presented with the award for Photographer of the Year. Tim was described by judges as an ‘editor’s dream’ and ‘a brilliant all-rounder with that unique ability to bring emotion into his images.’

The awards evening was held at the Urbis exhibition centre in Manchester. It is the latest in a series of media awards contests launched by O2 across the North to honour local and regional press.

In Broadcast, BBC North West Tonight’s Dave Guest scooped Broadcast Journalist of the Year for the moving series of interviews he carried out with Jessica Knight, the school girl stabbed to within millimeters of her life while walking through a park in Lancashire.

Their rival Granada Reports did not go home empty handed and picked up two awards for Entertainment Journalist of the Year and Sports Reporter of the Year. Winner of the entertainment award, Caroline Hacking, was described as ‘a rare talent’ while sports reporter Mike Hall was praised for his expert coverage of boxer Ricky Hatton’s world championship bid.

The judging panel included Paul Newman, Head of Communications at Media City; Alastair Machray, editor of the Liverpool Echo; Steve Hothersall, news and sports editor at Radio City and Nicola Priest, editor of Warrington Guardian which won Newspaper of the Year at the Cheshire and Merseyside O2 Media Awards for the second year running.

O2 employs more than 1200 people at its award-winning Customer Service Centre in Bury, which this month celebrated ten years of business at the Dumers Lane site.

Glenn Manoff, O2’s Director of Communications and Reputation, said the awards recognised outstanding media coverage of issues affecting communities across Manchester and Lancashire.

‘We’re delighted to be able to celebrate the huge service local and regional journalists provide in our towns and cities,’ he said. ‘This is a region rich with quality journalism which has been reflected in the high level of entries we have received from writers, broadcasters and photographers working in the area.’

O2 Media Awards Winners and Finalists

Digital Journalist of the Year

Winner: William Watt ‘ The Gazette Blackpool

Runners up:

Paul Cockerton ‘ Lancashire Telegraph

Martin Hamer ‘ Lancashire Evening Post

Editorial Team of the Year

Winner: The Gazette Blackpool

Runners up:

BBC North West

All Together Now

Young Journalist of the Year ‘ Weeklies

Winner: Natalie Banks – Chorley and Leyland Guardian

Runners up:

Robert Dawson ‘ Stockport Express

John Siddle ‘ Ormskirk Advertiser

Alice McKeegan ‘ Rochdale Observer

Young Journalist of the Year – Dailies

Winner: Catherine Pye ‘ Lancashire Evening Telegraph

Runners up:

Nafeesa Shan ‘ Lancashire Evening Telegraph

Joe Robinson ‘ The Gazette Blackpool

Radio Broadcaster of the Year

Winner: Lauren Moss ‘ Wish FM

Runners up:

Paul Lockitt ‘ Key 103

Rachel Murray ‘ Tower FM

Reporter of the Year

Winner: Michelle Livesey – Key 103

Runners up:

Abbie Jones ‘ BBC North West Tonight

Stef Hall ‘ Lancashire Evening Post

TV Broadcast Journalist of the Year

Winner: Dave Guest ‘ BBC North West Tonight

Runners up:

Rob Smith ‘ Granada Reports

Andy Gill ‘ BBC North West Tonight

Newspaper of the Year

Winner: Manchester Evening News

Runners up:

The Gazette, Blackpool

Crains Manchester Business

Bolton News

Sports Reporter of the Year

Winner: Mike Hall – Granada Reports

Runners up:

Chris Hall – Granada Reports

Andy Cryer ‘ Lancashire Telegraph

Photographer of the Year

Winner: Tim Bradley ‘ Rochdale Observer

Runners up:

Ian Robinson ‘ Lancashire Evening Post

Helen Brown ‘ Lancashire Telegraph

Entertainment Journalist of the Year

Winner: Caroline Hacking ‘ Granada Reports

Runners up:

Jemma Humphreys ‘ Lancashire Telegraph

Caroline Dutton ‘ Lancashire Telegraph

Business Journalist of the Year

Winner: Ben Rooth ‘ Manchester Evening News

Runners up:

Chris Maguire ‘ Chorley Guardian

Ben Briggs ‘ Lancashire Telegraph

Feature Writer of the Year

Winner: Lucy McGuire ‘ Salford Advertiser

Runners up:

Lesley Richards ‘ Leigh Journal

Alan Salter ‘ Transport Matters

Chris Visser ‘ Lancashire Evening Post

Scoop of the Year

Winner: Paul Keaveny – Bolton News

Runners up:

Vanessa Cornall – Accrington Observer

Ken Bennett – Oldham Chronicle

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on: 01753 565656
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