BIRMINGHAM Mail Crime & Investigations Editor Jeanette Oldham took one of the top honours at this year’s Regional Press Awards – being named Daily/Sunday Reporter of the Year.
She picked up the title at the Regional Press Awards, held in London and organised by the Society of Editors.
Judges said they were impressed by Jeanette's exclusive exposé and in-depth examination of Birmingham’s gang violence in a series of hard-hitting articles. It was her fifth national award in just three years.
Jeanette’s portfolio also included the exclusive revelation that top-secret documents had been stolen from anti-terror chief Marcus Beale’s car. West Midlands Police’s head of Counter Terrorism was later found guilty of breaching the Official Secrets Act, and was dismissed.
The awards entry also included her reporting on the theft of £3 million worth of engines from Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant in an audacious raid.
“The Reporter of the Year accolade is richly deserved,” said Paul Cole, Print Editor of the Birmingham Mail. “Jeanette is a journalist whose work makes a difference – and that is what we all got into this business to do.
“Her investigation into new emerging gangs in Birmingham was clear public interest journalism because it raised awareness of an unpublicised, but serious, new threat. “West Midlands Police has a specialist operation to tackle these groups, and our coverage prompted councillors to take up the issue.
“More than 14 gang members have been arrested for child sex offences and a number have been jailed. And since our coverage, the number of shootings and stabbings and sex offences in the south of Birmingham has fallen significantly,” he said.
In 2016, Jeanette picked up both the Reporter of The Year and Specialist Reporter of The Year honours at the Regional Press Awards, where judges praised her campaigning work in the Birmingham Mail and Sunday Mercury on child sexual exploitation and police corruption. In 2015, Oldham was named Specialist Reporter of the Year at the Regional Press Awards, and picked up the Local Heroes award at the British Journalism Awards, again for her work on exposing child sexual exploitation and the failure of the authorities to deal with it.
Another winner at the Regional Press Awards was Mark Williamson (pictured), of the Stratford upon Avon Herald, who took the honours in the Weekly Photographer of the Year category.
It was his second major award in two years.
In 2016, Mark, who has worked at the Herald for more than 40 years, won the Tony Flanagan News Photographer of the Year award at the annual Midlands Media Awards, organised by Birmingham Press Club. His winning pictures included a wakeboarding trial session, funeral and summer event, which all took place in the Stratford region.
Trinity Mirror’s Birmingham Live was highly commended at the awards for Digital Initiative shown in the ‘Brummie Mummies’ platform organised by journalist Zoe Chamberlain, who, in 2016 won Feature Writer of the Year at the Midlands Media Awards. Tim Thursfield, Express & Star, was highly commended in the Daily/Sunday Photographer of the Year category.