The awards season continued last night with the 2018 Press Gazette British Journalism Awards, held at the de Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in central London. The snappers were ready to see the great and the good of the media fetch up to consume as much complimentary collapso as possible, regale others with how wonderfully they had done this past year, and otherwise bask in the promotion of Themselves Personally Now.
Carole Cadwalladr - more gongs
So what of the awards? Would we see a repeat of last year’s fiasco where the self-promoting Nick Ferrari secured the Journalist of the Year gong, despite his less than stellar track record? Fortunately, this year there was a much more deserving recipient, the Guardian’s excellent Amelia Gentleman, whose work on exposing the Windrush scandal contributed directly to the fall of then Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
And the people at King’s Place had further reason to celebrate, although the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog would not be so happy, and nor would their pals at BuzzFeed News: the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr won two more awards to go with her already significant collection of gongs. BuzzFeed will be particularly sore about that, in view of their recent hatchet job on her.
Her first award, given outright, was for Technology Journalism, which for too many papers means running knocking copy on social media platforms, without bothering to do much about the actual technology. Press Gazette has told that “The judges said: ‘This was a first class piece of investigative journalism - marrying high quality writing with revelation on a matter of real public interest’”. And there was more.
“Cadwalladr used the resources of the paper to challenge non-disclosure agreement legal restrictions and pushed the envelope more than anyone else on this story. It raised a crucial issue for democracy in the digital age the ramifications of which are still rumbling on”. Except that many media outlets - hello BBC - are ignoring most of her work.
Also ignored by the Beeb is the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the reporting of which scored Ms Cadwalladr another award, this time in conjunction with Channel 4 News (remember the BuzzFeed article suggesting they fell out?). The judges’ comment won’t please the critics: “This was a fantastic example of a collaborative investigation. Both organisations showed long-term commitment to this story and both made a contribution appropriate to the genre they were working in”. BBC Panorama take note.
Not up for an award at all, Alex? Ah well, never mind - milk, no sugar, hold the smears
But what Press Gazette has not told, so I will, is that not all the judges were in favour of Ms Cadwalladr getting her gongs. At least one judge wanted her to be knocked back - on the strength of the BuzzFeed hatchet job. That’s how close Mark di Stefano and his pal Alex Wickham, formerly teaboy to Staines and his gang chez Fawkes, came to succeeding in one of the nastier, vindictive smear campaigns. But they failed.
So the woman vilified by so many in the Old Media Establishment - hello Andrew Neil - will soon need a new trophy cabinet, while most of the knockers came away empty handed. Including di Stefano and Wickham. There’s a message in there somewhere.
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