An unusual decision to move from deputy editor back to reporter level paid off for Mark Nicholls when he was named journalist of the year by regional newspaper publisher Archant.
Nicholls earned his award for more than 50 reports filed for the Eastern Daily Press in March and April while “embedded” with the RAF.
The EDP features editor was previously deputy editor of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph. But after taking a career break to go travelling, he returned to journalism as a reporter at The Press and Journal in Aberdeen before moving to the EDP.
He said of winning his award: “It’s really satisfying. I’ve been in journalism for 20 years and this has been the most challenging and rewarding year.”
Nicholls is now planning to move from features to cover health and defence for the EDP.
Some 1,200 employees, nearly half of Archant’s entire work force, attended the annual awards at Alexandra Palace in north London on Saturday night. In keeping with its 1970s theme, the evening was compered by Tony Blackburn, entertainment was provided by Abba tribute act Bjorn Again and staff dined on prawn cocktail and coq au vin.
Archant publishes local newspapers in Devon, London, East Anglia and Scotland and also has a large magazines division.
A magazine which, in the space of a year, has become the topselling monthly consumer title in Norfolk won the prize for best paid-for regional publication. Let’s Talk Norfolk also won idea or launch of the year.
The nostalgia-based magazine targets the over-50s and has been a big financial success for the company.
The Hunts Post, part of Archant Anglia, won the prize for free regional publication of the year.
Lifestyle publication of the year was Photography Monthly, part of Archant Specialist, and product or service of the year was the Peterhead Football Club matchday programme.
Archant Devon won campaign of the year with Gift of Life, a bid to persuade readers to sign up as organ donors which was kick-started by 30 staff signing the donor register themselves.
Andy Abbott of the East Anglian Daily Times was named photographer of the year.
A hard-fought company five-a-side football tournament held in the afternoon was won by the Ham & High, with goalscoring contributions from editor Geoff Martin and sports editor Doug Gratton.
By Dominic Ponsford