The Star wins national acclaim over Sheffield’s Hillsborough Disaster anniversary coverage

Tara Parkes who was with St John's Ambulance at the time of the Hillsborough disaster is pictured being interviewed by Bob Westerdale
Tara Parkes who was with St John's Ambulance at the time of the Hillsborough disaster is pictured being interviewed by Bob Westerdale
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The Star’s unique coverage of the Hillsborough Disaster’s 25th anniversary was acclaimed at the 2014 Press Gazette British Journalism Awards in London, last night.

The newspaper’s stance was celebrated in the “Local Heroes” category of the competition judging the best public interest journalism produced in the UK.

On April 15, we devoted 25 pages to review a tragedy which claimed 96 lives. We were scrupulously fair and impartial in our reporting, especially with the current inquest taking place.

Bob Westerdale, who reported from the disaster scene in 1989 as then-crime reporter, led a team of Star reporters.

We went looking for the ‘Heroes of Hillsborough’ – those people who tried to save lives, and whose story had been largely overlooked.

We tracked down St John’s Ambulance personnel, one living in Australia, policemen, publicans, medics, and normal residents who had lived near the ground.

They told their story – through no editorial prism of ours, but simply through their own words.

Many of their lives had been changed forever. The coverage included an endorsement from Trevor Hicks, who lost two daughters.

Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford said before the event at Stationers’ Hall in London : “This year there were a record number of entries, more than 250, which tells its own story about the quality of work which is being produced by journalists across the UK.

“With journalism and press freedom currently under attack in this country, the British Journalism Awards finalists remind us what is at stake.”

The Star was up against some excellent opposition:

*Jeanette Oldham - Birmingham Mail (Trojan horse: The files - special investigation) Emma Burrows

*ITV News Central (Investigation into Female Genital Mutilation)

*Carl Eve, - The Herald (Plymouth) (‘Find them’ – report into members of a child abuse ring, ‘Police are ‘undermining’ safeguarding children initiative’ and ‘We must find the other child abusers still at large’.)

*Gareth Davies – The Croydon Advertiser ‘Honey trap conwoman tricked me out of £35k’, ‘Time for Justice’ (report on abuse at children’s home) and ‘Too young to party, far too young to die’.

*Neil Elkes - Birmingham Mail ‘Sneaky finers! New bus lane signs secretly put up days before watchdog ruling’, ‘Cameras snare 60,000 drivers in just 11 weeks’ and ‘Council chief: We should have listened to the Mail’.