Flooding, Power Up The North and keeping it real - How The Yorkshire Post won top newspaper award

During 2019, The Yorkshire Post covered a general election with a fine tooth comb, laid bare the devastation of flooding in the county and helped replace the stolen savings of a Yorkshire pensioner.

The Yorkshire Post front page demanding action on flooding from the Government and left, editor James Mitchinson

For more than 260 years, the staff at the newspaper has done its best to make a tangible difference to the life of Yorkshire folk, and be the voice of the county on the national stage.

Now it has been recognised for its hard work by being named the winner of the Daily Newspaper of the Year Award for 2019 by the Society of Editors.

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The announcement, made digitally due to the coronavirus crisis, added to the Most Trusted Newspaper title picked up in April of 2019.

Below is the entry from editor James Mitchinson, describing in his words why he believed The Yorkshire Post was worthy of the latest award:

Dear judges, I do believe The Yorkshire Post - recently recognised by PAMCo, for the first time in its history, as the Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain - warrants the accolade of Daily Newspaper of the Year for 2019 because:

In 2019 The Yorkshire Post stood up for Yorkshire, the North of England and for journalism, attracting international acclaim, including from The Washington Post and The New York Times and in doing so reminded people of the importance of having a confident, campaigning, quality regional press. The Yorkshire Post has been relentlessly highlighting the corrosiveness of fake news and championing trusted journalism.

The editor has appeared on national TV and radio on scores of occasions banging the drum for Yorkshire and for the regional press. The Yorkshire Post is one of the few regional titles to now regularly feature on Sky’s Paper Review; our high quality exclusive journalism now cutting through to compete with the nationals.

Election Coverage

In a front page comment calling for ‘Urgent Electoral Reform’ that reverberated around the world, The Yorkshire Post said: “This, one of Britain’s most trusted and historic newsbrands, was having the bond between it and its readers - one often passed on from generation to generation of Yorkshire families - attacked. Journalism that had been painstakingly fact-checked and meticulously sourced was being discredited by a digital disease that is hypnotic and alluring yet nothing more than a con trick propagated by conspiracy theorists.”

Emily Bell said: “One of the very few heroes of the UK election campaign is The Yorkshire Post. Mitchinson’s email to a reader who would not believe a (true) story about a sick child left to wait on the floor of a Leeds hospital is a model of both public service journalism and how to debunk a lie.”

Alan Rusbridger said: “Editor in chief, James Mitchinson, wrote … a powerful statement of why good journalism – independent and decently crafted – should matter. So let’s hear it for bog-standard journalism. There’s too little of it. It may not be enough, but it’s all we have.”

Summarising the story of the election campaign, Mitchinson wrote for The Guardian where he concluded: “We are in danger of losing something more valuable [than money]: the ability to discern between truth and lies in the news we consume, wherever we consume it.”

Floods Coverage

2019 was the year The Yorkshire Post heaped shame on Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he and his government misjudged the grave seriousness of the South Yorkshire floods. “Not A National Emergency” declared the page-one headline (the PM’s words fired right back at him), beneath a hellish aerial image of mass devastation.

Our award-winning photographers stayed in Fishlake day and night to record the disaster fully whilst the editor - in one day alone - took to R4 Today (Nick Robinson), Sky News (Sarah-Jane Mee), BBC World News, Politics Live (Andrew Neil), 5Live and LBC (James O’Brien) to call for a full and proportionate government response to the floods. Our coverage of the floods and the inadequate Ministerial response is a core campaign for 2020: we will be unswervingly committed to getting families the protections they need and deserve.

Power Up The North

The Yorkshire Post triggered the Power Up The North campaign and drove it hard alongside the Manchester Evening News and over 30 other northern news outlets in the North of England and, again, drew national acclaim and Ministerial attention.

Power Up The North is now common political parlance and the campaign credited with changing the course of the election and the import of this region. Our demand for the Northern Powerhouse Minister to have a seat at Cabinet was acceded by Government - Jake Berry sent a note to editor James Mitchinson stating: my seat at the Cabinet table is as much yours as it is mine.

At the time of writing, our campaign to have Northern stripped of its rail franchise had been won. We launched the inaugural Great Northern Conference last year - from a one-page document on the editor’s desk - and look forward to the illustrious second in Sheffield this March. Transport Secretary and new Northern Powerhouse brief-holder the Rt Hon Grant Shapps will address the conference. [Note: this was cancelled due to coronavirus]

Keeping it real

Judges, I offer you this as an example of why I believe so passionately in a vibrant regional press. It is perhaps incongruous to the big set-pieces aforementioned but I believe that which follows here to be what we in this industry are all about.

In October, 91-year-old John Thompson came to our attention via South Yorkshire Police. He had lost £15,000 of his life-savings. Money he planned to give to his grandchildren.

Our Crime Correspondent, Lucy Leeson, set up a Just Giving page and started the ball rolling with a donation of £5 of her own money in trying to get Mr Thompson and his wife at least a little of their life-savings back.

The Yorkshire Post launched a social media campaign and within 24 hours, friends of The Yorkshire Post had raised all of Mr Thompson’s lost money and given it back to him. It is a unique blend of trust, compassion and connection to the communities we serve that makes the regional press special and it is important to me that we remember why we do what we do and for whom we do it.

I do hope that our work in 2019 makes the judges feel proud of The Yorkshire Post, proud of the regional press and that you believe our contribution reaches the levels required in order to be considered for the coveted, Daily Newspaper of the Year award.

Faithfully

James Mitchinson, Editor

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Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected] Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson

Editor