by Carl Royle

The Saddleworth Independent is a shining example of “good local journalism” said judges at a top media award last night.

The Independent’s publisher and editor, Ken Bennett and colleagues, were highly commended in the Editorial Team of the Year category at the O2 North West Media Awards which celebrated success by journalists from local, regional newspapers, radio and television.

Judges said the independent – the only free newspaper in  the North West to be short-listed for the team award –  was how grass roots journalism should be.

“This is a team that knows its communities intimately. It fills the gaps being left by bigger media organisations,” said the judging panel.

The category was won by the news team from Manchester based Key 103, headed up by John Pickford. Judges’ spokeswoman Nicola Megson said: “A lot of people claim the regional press is on the decline but from what I’ve seen in these awards the standards of journalism are superb and the media in the North West is alive and kicking.”

Around 300 nominations were received across the 16 award categories. O2’s Director of Communications, Reputation and Sustainability, Glenn Manoff, said the awards demonstrated the impact the regional press had in their communities.

“As well as their news and sport exclusives these reporters are also performing a vital role covering grass roots issues that cement communities together. O2 is a business that focuses heavily on community cohesion and we are delighted to see these awards grow in popularity and success each year.”

Said Ken Bennett: “The success of the Independent is entirely down to our tiny dedicated team – backed by loyal contributors, local columnists,  advertisers and the enthusiastic support from our appreciative 20,000 readers who have voted  the Independent Saddleworth’s ‘must read.’ ”

Last year the Independent was highly commended in the Weekly Newspaper of ther Year category, even though its a monthly.

An Outstanding Contribution Award went to former BBC North West Tonight anchor man Gordon Burns.

The event at Blackpool Pleasure Beach attracted more than 200 guests including celebrities from Coronation Street, Heartbeat and Shameless who  joined Olympic hopeful Beth Tweddle, Wigan Warriors’ skipper Sean O’Loughlin and singer Linda Nolan in  the VIP line up.



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