`The Independent': simply the best

Why we have been named Newspaper of the Year in the prestigious British Picture Editors' awards
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The Independent Online
TO REPEAT last year's triumph as the black and white newspaper of the year was a thrill, but to be awarded the title of Newspaper of the Year as well is absolutely fabulous.

We have the smallest picture budget of all the national broadsheets but we consistently produce the best photographs. That is down to our brilliant team: the photographers and the picture desk.

I know that you enjoy the pictures because my postbag is constantly full of plaudits. Please keep them coming - it is rewarding to hear of your enthusiasm. My editor, Rosie Boycott, shares that enthusiasm and it was a pleasure to accompany her onto the podium on Wednesday to receive the awards from the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Mr. Blair, it seems, also appreciates pictures and he knows many of the photographers by name. He said he understood how difficult it was for them to work in dangerous places, often alerting the public to suffering and injustice in the world.

He knows, too, however, that you have to be on your guard when we have you in focus. On the election trail last year he was at a war museum to make a speech and was alarmed to spot his aide standing behind him on a chair. He whispered to her to get down but she said no; he tried again but had the same response. So he reluctantly began his speech. Afterwards, she climbed down to reveal a swastika on the wall directly behind him!

Mr Blair entered into the spirit of the event on Wednesday evening at the Guildhall in the City of London, and even turned the tables on the photographers when he borrowed a camera and started organising the official photocall. I am not sure that he has a complete command of photographer's technique, but he certainly has the right banter.

I'm always ready to encourage new talent ... I wonder if he would consider a spell with us on work experience?