Media awards: We're going for a gong
They're great if you win, all too easily dismissed if you don't. Either way, the noise around media awards is hard to ignore - and the biggest of the lot are nearly upon us
Monday 12 February 2007
Although they were launched only eight years ago, the World Leadership Forum's Business Journalist of the Year awards have quickly established themselves as the Oscars of the business-journalism world. The presentation ceremony is held in April, and has passed through a number of venues over the past few years. The 2007 ceremony will be at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. After complaints that the awards unfairly favoured magazine journalists, the categories have been altered several times. The most prestigious category is the Decade of Excellence award. Previous winners in it include the former BBC business editor Jeff Randall and the Sunday Telegraph editor Patience Wheatcroft.
Neither as boozy nor as raucous as the British Press Awards, the British Society of Magazine Editors Awards is still a competitive event. Winners of the can expect big hugs and air-kisses but risk the sharpened hatpins and stiletto heels of those they have beaten. The BSMEs began in 1988 and include a prestigious Mark Boxer award for contribution to the industry. Last year's event at the Park Lane Hilton was ably compered by Celia Duncan, the BSME chair and editor of CosmoGIRL! alongside chubby Irish comedian Dara O'Briain. Winners included Nicola Jeal, editor of Observer Woman, who was the editor's editor of the year, Jane Bruton of Grazia (right) and Morgan Rees of Men's Health. This year's event takes place in November, venue to be confirmed.
Highlights in the beauty journalists' calendar include the Johnson & Johnson Beauty Awards, and the lavish Procter & Gamble Awards (formerly known as the Pantene Pro-V Spirit of Beauty Awards), held in the Whitehall banqueting suite. Last time round, prizes were presented by Skins star Nicholas Hoult, Leah (daughter of Ronnie) Wood and Jerry Hall (right, with Vogue's Susannah Taylor). The award itself - a cylindrical glass monument with a powder puff on top - is an ornament to any desk or dressing table.
Then there are the Jasmine Awards, for excellence in fragrance journalism, taking place on 13 March. This year they will be an up-scale event, held at the Waldorf hotel, with categories judged by a panel including Celia Birtwell and Eve Pollard, and prizes reaching a maximum of £2,500. Wonderfully wafty though they may sound, the Jasmine Awards are conducted with rigour (none of the entrants' identities are revealed to the judges, for example) and are an industry institution, having been running almost 20 years.
BRITISH PRESS AWARDS
David Mellor once claimed that the British press was drinking in the "last chance saloon". This event, with its brawling, abuse, macho posturing and hard drinking, was Fleet Street's attempt to bring to London the ambience of the notorious Long Branch bar in Dodge City. The roll call of infamy includes the punch-up between Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan (2004), St Bob Geldof's foul-mouthed tirade against various editors (2005) and journalists standing on their chairs to shout "fix, fix, fix" (2002).
It became too much for two of the biggest press groups, Associated Newspapers and the Telegraph Group, who boycotted last year's awards, and in doing so greatly undermined the event's credibility and the cash-flow of its owners, the trade magazine Press Gazette. When that publication was sold to Wilmington Media, the new owners set about getting Fleet Street back together. This year's event will be hosted by Jon Snow (below with 2005 Scoop of the Year winner Stephen Moyes of the Mirror) and will take place in the Great Room of Grosvenor House in London on 26 March. Let the bun fight begin.
ROYAL TELEVISION SOCIETY AWARDS
The RTS holds awards to commend all aspects of the business, including craft and design, technical innovation and various genres of programming, but the Television Journalism Awards are the most high-profile - and certainly the most sought-after. They were founded in 1978 and set a competitive standard for news and current-affairs broadcasting across the channels. They are always a suitably showbiz affair and this year's awards will be held at the Park Lane Hilton next week, with Natasha Kaplinsky as host. The BBC has already garnered the most nominations - 17 across the 16 categories. Fergal Keane of the BBC, ITV's Chris Rogers and Sky News's Dominic Waghorn are all in the running for Television Journalist of the Year, while Mark Austin, Jon Snow and Jeremy Paxman will battle it out for Presenter of the Year. The stories which have attracted the judges' attention include the war in Lebanon, Charles Kennedy's alcoholism and the tragedy of the Morecambe Bay cockle-pickers. Last year Sky News' Jeremy Thompson beat David Dimbleby and George Alagiah to the top presenting award. Left, he receives his award from Bob Phillis, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group.
SONY RADIO AWARDS
This event is not for the faint-hearted, a marathon of 30 categories, interspersed with bad jokes from regular host Paul Gambaccini. Gambo does try to speed things up by breaking into a caterwaul when acceptance speeches go on too long. Highlights have included Dame Edna Everage presenting an emotional Terry Wogan with a Gold award last year and an acceptance speech by Danny Baker in 2005 in which he noted that he'd been named DJ of the Year "at the age of 50, for a programme on which I play no records". This ceremony, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is also characterised by countless tables of BBC types whooping and cheering every time some outpost of Broadcasting House lands an award, such as Chris Moyles last year (right). This is also the most effectively branded ceremony in the media calendar, with presenters and stations boasting of having won a "Sony". Kings of the Sonys are Radio 2's Steve Wright, who has 14 nominations and three gold awards, and Stephen Nolan (Radio Ulster, Radio Five Live), who has 11 nominations and seven golds, no less. This year's Sonys will take place at the Grosvenor House on 30 April.
Sportswriting affords the chance to make a mark in a way that practioners in other disciplines don't enjoy. Competition to produce the best match report or column is intense, and the biggest names in the business, going back to Hugh McIlvanney and Ian Wooldridge, enjoy vaunted status. Maybe this is why the same few stars seem to dominate the Sports Journalists' Association awards, which this year take place on 12 March. Sports columnism is arguably the most prestigious category, pitting the likes of James Lawton (The Independent), Simon Barnes (The Times) and Patrick Collins (the Mail on Sunday) against each other.
The Glenfiddich Food and Drink Awards for writing and broadcasting were inaugurated at the Dorchester 37 years ago over a bottle of vintage Bordeaux, and have developed into an all-star affair recognising food-and-drink writing, broadcasting and photography, and the best chefs in the business. Past winners include Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay (right), The Independent's Christopher Hirst and The Independent on Sunday's Terry Durack. The awards take place each April and this year's overall winner will go home with the Glenfiddich Trophy and £3,000.
The British Environment and Media Awards (Bemas) have been rewarding eco-conscious journalists and campaigners for almost two decades. The show is run by WWF, which treats several hundred guests to a top-notch vegetarian (organic, surely?) feast in Canary Wharf's glass-domed Winter Garden each year. The big awards for environmental newspaper and reporter of the year - won in 2006 by The Independent's Michael McCarthy - are complemented by various accolades for local newspapers, and effective environmental campaigns and organisations. The green-fingered comedian Alistair McGowan is a regular host of the Bemas which, while never as raucous as the British Press Awards, provide a unique networking opportunity for NGOs, relevant Government departments and the media.
The biggest and most prestigious awards in science journalism are the Science Writers' Awards, organised by the Association of British Science Writers, and which are sponsored by the agrochemicals multinational Syngenta.
There are eight categories, each with a £2,000 first prize. They range from the best newspaper feature on a science subject to the best TV pro- gramme on science.
Although the prize is sponsored by Syngenta, the judging panel are independently appointed by the association and are drawn from journalism and academia. The ceremony is held in July at the Royal Society in London. There is also a lifetime achievement award, which has been won by Sir David Attenborough and Tim Radford, the former science editor of The Guardian.
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