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December 14, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:51am

Journalist of the year Robert Moore of ITV News says Capitol exclusive was advert for eyewitness newsgathering

By Charlotte Tobitt

Newly named journalist of the year Robert Moore of ITV News has said his reporting from inside the US Capitol insurrection in January proves the need for eyewitness reporting.

He said this was especially acute in the US where there is a preference for studio-based panel discussions on broadcast news programmes.

Moore and his team, producer Sophie Alexander and camera operator Mark Davey, also won the Foreign Affairs Journalism Award for their reporting from the Capitol on 6 January.

[See all the British Journalism Award 2021 winners here]

The judges said of Moore’s journalist of the year win: “Journalism is often a case of being in the right place at the right time. But if you work hard enough and long enough some journalists find themselves in the right place more than others.”

Indeed Moore told Press Gazette after his win that it was more than luck that meant he and his team were the only journalists inside the Capitol during the insurrection.

“It was a matter of planning and journalism,” he said. “That’s what made it very rewarding for us. It was a reward for seeing beneath the veil of white supremacy and we had an awareness that the storming of the Capitol was coming.”

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Moore said he and his team had been investigating white supremacists and armed militias for months before the riot took place.

[Read more: ITV journalist’s report from inside US Capitol: ‘A crowd of furious men in camouflage wielding heavy wooden sticks encircled us’]

What did take ITV News by surprise, however, was the fact they were the only journalists inside the Capitol.

Moore said: “I think we had a sense of history at the time and therefore as we calibrated risk we also sensed that there was a huge reward in being with the insurrectionists. What we had no idea about was it would be an exclusive – we thought there would be other reporters within the mob.”

Judges had also praised Moore for achieving “astounding access to produce impeccable journalism – measured, balanced, calm, courageous and informed,” adding that his writing was “beautiful too, sparse, elegant and to the point”.

He told Press Gazette that the scoop had proved the need for journalists to be on the ground and not stuck in studios as, he said, much of US broadcast journalism is now centred around.

He said: “The most important point for me is it showcases eyewitness journalism and in America the news channels have gone down the path of studio panels and so what I think 6 January proves is we need to be out there newsgathering. It’s an advert for newsgathering over the countless studio panels that dominate American TV news.”

Moore, who has been a foreign correspondent for three decades, said it was a “privilege… to show that ITV News, although small, can compete and that for me it’s about leveraging our small size and showing that we can be agile”.

In a speech as he accepted the Journalist of the Year prize, Moore noted that the year began with the Capitol story and was ending with a “defining scoop” from ITV News UK editor Paul Brand that revealed footage of a practice Downing Street press briefing in which the Prime Minister’s then-TV spokesperson Allegra Stratton joked about an alleged Christmas party last year that appeared to have been held against Covid-19 regulations.

He also pointed to the “extraordinary” reporting this year by ITV News political correspondent Daniel Hewitt on squalid council housing conditions, which was nominated in the Politics Journalism category but lost out to the FT.

ITV News also picked up the Local Journalism prize for Ria Chatterjee, who judges described as a “ferocious interviewer”, and the Public Service award for former editor Geoff Hill who died in September aged 52.

Moore told the awards attendees: “It feels just a wonderful time to be at ITV News.”

See all the 2021 British Journalism Awards winners here.

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