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October 8, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:40am

British Journalism Awards attracts record entries with huge boost to diversity

By Dominic Ponsford

Entries are now closed for the 2020 British Journalism Awards with a record number of entries for this year’s event.

More than 600 entries have been submitted for the 25 award categories reflecting the high standard of journalistic output this year – much of it covering what many consider to be the biggest global story since the World War Two, the coronavirus pandemic.

There were some 200 entries this year from BAME, female and disabled journalists who previously could not have afforded the entry fees.

Helped by sponsorship from Google, Press Gazette this year waived the fees from journalists in these categories. The awards judges were particularly keen to encourage entries from female journalists who have been historically under-represented on shortlists in the past.

This year, for the first time, there is a 50/50 gender split among the 80-strong panel of independent judges (full list here).

The best of the new BAME awards entrants who entered under the assisted entry scheme will also be considered for a new prize named in honour of Barbara Blake Hannah – who was the UK’s first black on-screen TV news journalist.

Blake Hannah, who lives in Jamaica, will help to judge the award. And she has arranged with the Jamaica Tourist Board for the winner of the prize and their guest to have a trip to Jamaica with air travel and accommodation included.

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Packs for the awards judges will now be finalised to go out at the end of this week giving them a month to mark the entries and pick their favourites based on the awards criteria. For most categories the focus is on: revelation, journalistic skill and rigour and serving the public interest.

This year journalists from every major news organisation in the UK have taken part. Uniquely among major journalism awards in the UK, at this event every category is open to journalists working across all media (print, digital and broadcast).

The judges will agree winners via a series of jury sessions on 5 and 6 November.

The shortlists will be announced via a live webinar on 13 November (with the shortlist for news provider of the year revealed a week later).

There will be no shortlist announced in advance for Journalist of the Year or the Marie Colvin Award. The shortlist for the Barbara Blake Hannah award will be announced nearer to the event.

This year’s British Journalism Awards winners will be announced at a virtual event on 9 December. Attendance this year will be free. Register here if you would like to attend.

Chairman of judges Dominic Ponsford said: “We’ve been amazed by the interest in this year’s event which reflects the fact that this has been an awful and an amazing year for journalism. Colleagues have had to to work under difficult circumstances, with many losing their jobs and taking pay cuts.

“But journalists have risen to the challenge of telling the biggest story of their lives admirably. With access to quality information a matter of life and death these days, the judges will take their duty particularly seriously when it comes to deciding on the winners.

“The judges are chosen for their independence and are bound to judge each entry objectively on its merits.

“We were particularly pleased to see so many new entries this year from journalists who would have never previously have considered entering themselves for a British Journalism Award. The new assisted-entry scheme has delivered a huge boost to the diversity of awards entrants.”

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