Television Journalism Awards 2017
The winners of the 2017 RTS Television Journalism Awards have been announced.
The awards, for both news and current affairs, seek to recognise creative and excellent journalism by organisations whose broadcasts are transmitted on a UK-based platform or who create online video content from a UK production base.
Stewart Purvis, CBE and Chair of the Awards said: “After the exceptional news events so far in 2016 and the high quality coverage by broadcasters in the UK it is clear that the competition for the RTS Television Journalism Awards is going to be tougher than ever at the end of the year. The Awards celebrate the hard work, dedication and extraordinary breadth of talent in news and current affairs reporting.”
The awards ceremony took place at the London Hilton on Park Lane on 1 March 2017.
Breaking News: Brussels Terror Attack
“The winning team had the good fortune to find themselves in the midst of an unfolding drama and built on that by using every ounce of journalistic enterprise and technical skill – as well as considerable courage – to deliver a textbook example of how to cover a breaking story.”
Camera Operator of the Year: Waad al-Kateab
“With many strong contenders, our winner’s portfolio was head and shoulders above the rest. Her powerful images didn’t flinch from showing the full horror of life and death in Aleppo.”
Current Affairs - Home: Interview with a Murderer
“... a brilliant and gripping film, which was also beautifully made. It was a compelling watch, right from the first frame and the final interview was a genuine scoop!”
Current Affairs - International: Exposure
“...this was an extremely brave film. Venturing into Saudi Arabia undercover was a remarkable feat. This is an important country which we hardly ever see, beyond the official veneer. The film brought to life the extent of the power and the fear which lies under the surface. The viewer really experienced the journey. An important piece of journalism and a great watch, beautifully shot and full of fine production values.”
Daily News Programme of the Year: Channel 4 News
“The winning programme demonstrated a masterful breadth and depth of content throughout the year, from world-class frontline coverage to their trademark political analysis and powerful interviews. They backed that up with tenacious and exclusive investigations and high quality location presentation.”
Interview of the Year: Faisal Islam
“The shortlist featured three interviewers at the top of their game. The hallmark of all three was that they seemed better prepared than their interviewees. This was particularly so in the case of the winner who, approaching what was fast becoming very familiar territory, brought new insights and energy to the national debate. He highlighted a weak point in his guest’s case that was never properly answered and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Nations and Regions Current Affairs: Spotlight
“Financial corruption stories are never easy to do. The Northern Ireland team worked unbelievably hard and bravely over 18 months to expose corruption over the sale of a £1.3 billion property portfolio. This was an extraordinary and incredibly important story as well as a gripping watch. The programme has accelerated police and parliamentary enquiries on both sides of the Irish border.”
Nations and Regions News: BBC South East Today
A brilliant selection of the very best of regional journalism, from illegal immigrants working in Kent and Sussex to tracking down a gunman who’d been on the run for a decade. The abuse story at a Kent care home was astonishing and led to a parliamentary investigation. The Calais ambush by people smugglers was riveting television and went on to be picked up nationally. Amazing journalism from a small region that exhibited real ambition.”
Network Presenter of the Year: Tom Bradby
“The winners’ portfolio included presenting news programmes, anchoring special events, on the road reporting and chairing debates. The presenting was done in a new style, ‘intimate, engaging, authoritative, trustworthy’ just some of the adjectives they used. The winner got to the heart of the matter sometimes very directly with the newsmakers themselves.”
News Channel of the Year: BBC News Channel
“The winning channel combined outstanding live and continuous coverage of big events with strong worldwide reporting and a great touch with human interest stories. They were quick on breaking news and showcased an impressive range of exclusives too.”
News Coverage - Home: Prisons
“This year’s Home News award goes to a series of revelatory films which prefigured one of the big domestic crises of the year. They were the result of remarkable access gained through dogged negotiation over a long period of time. The coverage across a number of exclusive reports identified a shocking picture which led to a major public debate and changes in policy.”
News Coverage - International: Inside Aleppo
“In a year of extraordinary coverage of appalling wars, this insight into Aleppo was something very special. Our judges described it as remarkable, compelling and the yardstick by which other coverage should be judged. Matt Frei’s scripting was word perfect. With a digital project alongside, the coverage was imaginative and innovative and ticked the enterprise box too.”
News Technology: Sky Data
“...a brilliant example of technical innovation. It has transformed the way television measures public opinion, leaving the old vox pop obsolete. The team should be congratulated on using existing customer information to make a research panel of up to 10,000,000 people.”
Regional Presenter of the Year: Harry Gration
“Outstanding, a class act...when the winner is on the screen, you simply want to watch. He is deeply rooted in his region and exhibits a genuine affinity with his audience and demonstrates both depth and range.”
Scoop of the Year: I.S. Files
“...a team effort which brilliantly exploited a leak of data, transforming it into compelling television using the entire toolbox of TV news. This dwarfed in scale, skill and significance other attempts at the story, leading to the arrest of suspects.”
Specialist Journalist of the Year: Lisa Holland
“This year’s Specialist Journalist of the year has carved out a unique role in a new but crucial specialist position. It has taken them around the world to report on one of the year’s most controversial and pressing issues. They showed a great range of skills pursuing the story, from investigation to analysis to empathy.”
Television Journalist of the Year: Matt Frei
“One of the best writers in the business. His use of language brings great depth to his reports and regularly shines through. His interviewing has also produced insights which others have missed. He is one of the most experienced, and skilled TV journalists working today.”
The Independent Award: The Last Flower Seller of Aleppo
“A fabulously powerful piece of television...The jurors applauded not only the enterprise and courage of the freelance camera operator who first suggested the story and then filmed it, but also the production company back in London who in the edit crafted a narrative that made this stand out as strong storytelling.”
Young Talent of the Year: Waad al-Kateab
“...heart stopping, calm in horrific conditions, sensitive, empathetic, extraordinary – the compliments kept on coming.”
Judges' Award: Steve Hewlett
(citation by Awards Chair Stewart Purvis)
“On 26 January a panel of representatives of broadcasters, video news agencies and jury chairs met to decide on the Judges’ Award. The rules say it can recognise an outstanding contribution on or off screen, in the past year or over the course of their career. The panel chose a winner who achieved so much on screen and off screen, over the course of his career and very particularly in the past year.
I phoned the winner and that’s how I got to tell Steve Hewlett that he had won the Judges’ Award. Steve told me he was honoured and touched to have won. He looked forward to receiving it on 1 March.
I don’t think there has ever been anybody in broadcasting quite like Steve Hewlett. And probably never will be again.
Over four decades he variously, and often simultaneously, produced programmes; edited them; commissioned them; wrote and broadcast about them; presented them and exec produced them as an independent. He worked for the BBC, Channel Four, ITV and his own indie Genie Pictures. He started on TV and learned to love radio. He was the star turn for many years at RTS Cambridge, Edinburgh and Sheffield festivals and many other media events.
He truly was a man for all seasons, one of them being the rugby season. I remember turning up with my son at a youth rugby tournament in Hertfordshire to find Steve all togged up ready to referee one of the matches.
He was fiercely competitive in everything he did but also generous with praise for his competitors. He always threw himself into his journalism. He spent eight weeks filming inside the Maze Prison with Peter Taylor, and made a remarkable film there. He enjoyed his triumphs – the 23,000,000 audience for the Panorama: Diana interview will take some beating as a record for factual television – and he carried on regardless after disappointments.
One of the hallmarks of Steve’s journalism was his natural curiosity – which contact or interviewee could resist an opening line like ‘help me with this if you can’. Another was his attention to detail, as a pundit he read the documents others didn’t, which is how he knew so much and questioned so much, especially his own employers at the BBC.
And there was his humanity and there was his humour. All these same qualities, this same journalism, came to the fore last year on the Radio 4 PM Programme. The presenter Eddie Mair told listeners that this time Steve was on the air not to talk about the media but about his health. Eddie asked Steve ‘What’s happening?’ to which Steve replied ‘Well I’ve got cancer. I’ve got cancer of the oesophagus’. This matter of fact conversation set the style for many that were to follow on Radio Four and be replicated in different forms in print and on TV. There had been cancer diaries before but this was much more, it was public interest journalism of the kind Steve practiced on Panorama. He knew all the details as if he was talking on the Media Show about the latest draft of the BBC Charter. The public response was enormous. Many of the people who wrote to Steve said he had inspired them to find out more about their own condition, their own treatment.
Steve and I talked about the archive clips from his career that he hoped we would show tonight. A Panorama team tracked those down and added some of Steve’s recent interviews about cancer. Together these clips form a compilation that tells the story of Steve Hewlett’s journalism from the early 1980’s right up to last month. The first is a clip Steve often mentioned, when he dressed up in a bear’s costume for a title sequence for a new Channel Four current affairs programme. So lookout for Steve the bear.
On 6 February Steve told Eddie Mair on BBC Radio Four that he’d been given only ‘weeks, possibly months’ to live. He and his partner Rachel Crellin decided to get married in a ceremony organised within the hour at the Royal Marsden Hospital. A few days later Rachel, Steve and I met there to talk about tonight. He told me again how proud he was about the award. I told him how much love there would be for him within the room, he looked rather surprised.
The plan was for him to be sitting at a table with Rachel, his former partner Karole Lange and his and Karole’s three sons Fred, Billy and Bertie. Steve knew he wouldn’t be well enough to come up to the podium but wanted his sons to speak for him. Of course Steve, always the realist, knew he may not make it here tonight.
He asked me to remind him when the event was. I said ‘two weeks’ time’, he gestured ‘two weeks’. And he was right. But Rachel is here tonight, so is Karole and please welcome to receive the Judges Award on their father's behalf, the brothers Hewlett.”