The Impartial Reporter has been named UK Weekly Newspaper of the Year 2024 at a prestigious awards ceremony in London.

The Newspaper Awards, which were held in Hilton Bankside in the heart of the city on Tuesday night, celebrated “excellence and innovation in the printed newspaper”.

More than a dozen senior figures from the UK newspaper industry made up the two judging panels and spent two days pouring over hundreds of entries.

Newspapers from across the UK, including the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, were among those shortlisted for major awards. The Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, Belfast Telegraph and Irish News were also among the contenders.

The Impartial Reporter picked up the first award of the evening – UK Weekly Newspaper of the Year – for its “campaigning journalism”. The judges were looking for a publication that “showed there is still a thirst for a well-produced traditional weekly newspaper” and they wanted to see a “consistent quality of print and content backed up by evidence of commercial success and innovative ways of increasing circulation figures”.

In choosing the Fermanagh-based newspaper as the winner, the judges said The Impartial Reporter is a “strong campaigning paper that is fighting on behalf of its audience”.

“It has a lovely breathy layout and excellent print quality. Exuding a joyful community spirit, The Impartial Reporter was a standout winner in this under-pressure category.”

Accepting the award, The Impartial Reporter Editor Rodney Edwards told the 300-strong crowd of his pride at how the newspaper “is sticking up for people”. Asked by host Mark Durden-Smith what he was most proud of since taking over as Editor last September, he said: “That we are highlighting social issues and injustices”. He cited the newspaper’s foodbank appeal last year as one example.

Rodney continued: “Next year The Impartial Reporter – one of the oldest weekly newspapers in Ireland – celebrates its 200th anniversary. We are still here, and still doing the job.”

Other local winners on the night included The Irish News which won Regional Newspaper of the Year and its printing company Interpress – which prints The Impartial Reporter – won Regional Newspaper Printer of the Year.

The award success comes a week after former Impartial Reporter journalist Jessica Campbell was named Northern Ireland Weekly Journalist of the Year at the CIPR Media Awards. The newspaper itself – along with journalist Victoria Johnston and photographer John McVitty – were also recognised during the event in Belfast.

Last week it also emerged that the latest figures by Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) show The Impartial Reporter is now the biggest-selling weekly newspaper in Northern Ireland having increased its circulation year-on-year in recent months.

Speaking from London yesterday, Rodney said: “This is a tremendous win for The Impartial Reporter and its hardworking, dedicated and loyal staff. To be recognised for our campaigning journalism is such a compliment. We try our best to give ordinary people a voice each week.

“I want to pay tribute to everyone who contributes to our newspaper – from our staff across all departments to our team of freelance reporters, writers and photographers. I also want to thank David Wilson at the award-winning Interpress – our loyal printer – who produces a quality product for us each week.

He added: “But most of all I want to thank our loyal readers – thousands of them throughout the island of Ireland -- from Fermanagh, Tyrone, Cavan, Leitrim, Monaghan, Donegal, Belfast, even as far away as Galway and Dublin who put their trust in us every week. We are hugely grateful.”

Gary Cullum, director of The Newspaper Awards, said: “For the second successive year The Newspaper Awards focused entirely on print, recognising the hugely important role that print continues to play.

“There’s no denying we live in the digital age, with tech giants commanding the advertisers’ pound. But, for many, newspapers and genuine, trusted news brands remain an essential part of daily life.

“The quality and quantity of entry to The 2024 Newspaper Awards is testament to the continuing resilience of the industry.”

Editor-In-Chief of Newsquest Scotland and Northern Ireland Callum Baird said he was “delighted that The Impartial Reporter has been recognised as the UK's number-one weekly newspaper”.

“This major win is a testament to the drive and passion of the entire team every single week. In less than a year, they have revamped the newspaper, increased circulation and have now been awarded this prestigious award."