Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pats on the back

The Times was named Sports Newspaper of the Year last night by the Sports Journalists Association. It was pleasing not just because it was the third year in a row that we have been given the prize, which is judged by other sports editors, but because 2012 was a pretty enormous year for sport and you'd assume competition would be tougher than ever.

It's a tribute to everyone in the department, from the top man down to the hard-working unsung subs who stop us from looking too idiotic every day, and I'm proud to have been part of the team for eight years, even if at times it feels like my role amounts to that of Gary Pratt during the 2005 Ashes.

But this blog isn't about me or about The Times. Instead, I wanted to doff the cap to three friends in other organisations for their awards, with whom I have shared many beers abroad and whose company I always enjoy.

So well done to Richard Heathcote, snapper supreme for Getty Images, who won Picture of the Year; to Oliver Brown, the softly spoken purple proser of the Telegraph, for being named Interviewer of the Year; and to Lawrence Booth, for whom it can only be a matter of time before they call him the Sage of Northampton, who snapped up Scoop of the Year for his story in the Daily Mail last year about Kevin Pietersen's text messages to the South Africa camp about his captain.

Doos-gate, as it came to be known after the unflattering Afrikaans word that KP used to describe Andrew Strauss, was one of those stories that shaped news coverage of the England team for more than one day, right up until they headed off on tour to India two months later. It may have even influenced Strauss's decision to resign the captaincy. So blame Lawrence when we lose the Ashes.

Lawrence is also, as if he doesn't have enough to do, Editor of Wisden, one of those jobs in journalism so important that you have to capitalise the E. As custodians of the Laws, spirit, records and warmth of cricket, Wisden Editors don't tend to get much time for scoops. The Voice of Authority does not dirty his hands with digging up such things, but rather stands above it all and pontificates beautifully on why they matter (or not).

John Woodcock, the former chief cricket correspondent of The Times and Editor of Wisden in the 1980s, was once asked a couple of years ago whether he had ever had a scoop in his long career in journalism.

"There was usually one most days if you looked for it," he said. "I used to hide them in the seventh or eighth paragraph."

In those days, when journalists mixed more freely with sportsmen and friendship mattered more than exclusives, scoops were considered rather infra dig.


Brian Carpenter said...

Congratulations to everybody, Paddy.

I've been having some remote dealings with Lawrence recently and he comes across as a real gent.

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