By Ian Cole
A record number of writers and photographers have entered the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards.
Despite cost-cutting and redundancies in most newspaper offices, 229 writers, cartoonists and sports desks have submitted their best work from Olympic year 2008. In the photographic section there are 121 entries â€“ both figures showing a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.
The entries also include many more from freelancers this year, which the organisers fear may reflect the changes in the business in recent months.
Following the raising of the age limit from 25 to 30, there is a 300 per cent increase in the number of entries for the prestigious Ian Wooldridge Trophy, rewarding the Young Sports Writer of the Year. Entries for the Young Sports Photographer show a similar rise.
Presentations to the Sports Writer and Sports Photographer of the Year â€“ along with many other categories, including Regional Sports Writer â€“ will be made at a gala dinner sponsored by UK Sport and Sky Bet at The Brewery, in Moorgate, in the City of London on the evening of Monday, March 9.
Judging has begun with a record number of 37 judges made up mainly of current and past sports editors as well as other experts drawn from the sports media industry.
Short lists in all categories will be announced at the end of next month.
Peter Wilson, the chairman of judges for the writing and cartoonist awards, said: â€œWe are delighted by this response. Sports journalists are fighting back after a terrible year for our profession job-wise, both nationally and in the regions.â€
SJA chairman Barry Newcombe said: â€œIt is well known that the SJA journalism and photographic awards are judged by professionals who know the business inside out and that is reflected in an increase in entries.
â€œIt will be interesting to see which events from 2008 were used by entrants for their submissions, because there were some huge performances throughout the whole year.â€
Tickets for the awards dinner are Â£95 for SJA members and Â£120 for non-members.
Tickets can be ordered from Start2Finish Events Management. Contact Sandra Phillips by email or telephone 0208 916 2234.
â–¡ UK Sport is the longest standing lead sponsor of the Sports Journalists’ Association, with a partnership that goes back more than a decade. Sky Bet are the SJA’s newest partners, the sponsorship being announced in October 2008.
Both partners support the SJA’s two prestigious annual awards events, including the presentation of a special UK Sport Award for excellence at the SJA’s Annual Sports Awards and the sports betting writer of the year at the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards.
The SJA Annual Sports Awards are the longest established of their kind in the United Kingdom, having been first staged in 1949. The 60th SJA Sports Awards were staged in London on November 26.