Marr’s mission to boost investigative reporting

Andrew Marr, the former BBC political editor and Editor of The Independent, is backing a new journalism prize that rewards investigative reporting.

“It’s for people who by doing solid sleuthing turn up good stories,” Marr said. “We don’t have enough people who are obsessive about digging out facts.”

Marr is spearheading a group raising funds for the award, which may be named in honour of Tony Bevins, the free thinking political editor of The Independent who died in 2001.

Speaking at last week’s Newspaper Society annual lunch, Marr launched the award idea but also railed against the growing trend for highly paid columnists and opinion writers, at the expense of news writers. Marr said that with the growing move of newspapers online, news reporting risked becoming a lost skill.

“Any other people can have an opinion online. What the blogosphere can’t do is pay people to get out and discover things that other people don’t want us to know,” he said.

“Whatever happens as we all go online can we please try to keep digging because without that – this is nothing,” he said.

“Every newspaper has a culture, has a character that really give the spirit of a newspaper and we have to hang on to that as newspapers move online. We have to hang onto the original USP of newspapers and that is reporting.”

Asked about what he has in mind for the award, Marr said, “I want a sculpture of a rat going up a drainpipe. Long may the rats that we employ survive and scurry up the sticky nasty drainpipes in the land – because there are plenty of them around.”

Read the full report on Marr’s speech by clicking here (may require registration).