Muslim diaries scoop race award for Radio Five Live

Radio Five Live Breakfast team collect their award from actor David Harewood

Secret diaries recorded by two Muslims for Radio Five Live’s Breakfast show in the week of the September 11 terrorist attacks won the programme the radio news prize at the Race in the Media Awards.

Conceived in the aftermath of the summer riots in the north of England, the diaries of a Merseyside shopkeeper and a taxi driver from Middlesbrough took on a new significance following the plane strikes in New York and Washington.

The first of the diaries was broadcast the day before the tragedy. The series resumed on 13 September.

"The idea was borne out of a programme meeting weeks before as a way of looking behind the headlines to the everyday, low-level abuse that people suffer," said Mark Wray, who was Breakfast editor until his promotion to Five Live news editor at the beginning of the year.

"September 11 changed the nature of the whole thing and took us into unexpected areas. With the anti-Muslim backlash that followed, it took on a different tone as both of them experienced abuse beyond what they normally received."

The man and the woman, who were not named, agreed to have secret recording equipment installed in their places of work. Producers Diana Flood and Tamzen Audas collected the tapes each night to compile packages for the next day’s show.

The awards, organised by the Commission for Racial Equality and presented last week, aim to encourage informed coverage of race relations.

Channel 4 triumphed as broadcaster of the year for the second year running with its How Racist is Britain? series. Channel 4 journalist Simon Israel was awarded the television news prize. A producer for Channel 4 News before he moved to reporting four years ago, the home affairs correspondent said the programme’s strength was that it did not treat race as a separate issue.

"I think it’s one of the most important issues in this country and will become more important," said Israel. "But we try to include it in everything that we do, not just focus on the ‘race stories’ and don’t forget that we are dealing with a diverse population."

The BBC dominated the radio awards, picking up the factual award for David Olusoga’s Race Myths on Radio 4, as well as the drama and entertainment awards. The factual award for TV was presented to Sally Thomson and Michael Poole for the BBC Knowledge programme Black Messiah, which examined the role of the church in the black community.

The Guardian won the newspaper award for its May 2001 series on asylum seekers, Welcome to Britain, in G2. Nursing Times collected the award for best specialist magazine.

The Yorkshire Post was named best regional newspaper for its reporting on the Bradford riots and their aftermath, while London listings magazine Time Out was named best consumer magazine.

By Julie Tomlin

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