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Sun editor Tony Gallagher paid tribute to news agency journalists as the industry’s “unsung heroes” at the National Association of Press Agency awards.

Many of the journalists winning prizes saw staff journalists’ bylines placed on their work.

But winner of exclusive of the year, Anna Verdon of Ferrari Press, was given a joint front-page Sun byline for her story about serial killer Levi Bellfield accusing the police of upsetting the family of one his victims.

Gallagher’s said in his speech: “In my view, press agencies are the unsung heroes of the UK news industry. Like newspaper editors, you perform your task best by not attracting too much attention.”

Talking about current threats to the news industry, he said: “It’s not just falling readerships and ad revenues that are hitting our industry. The anti-mainstream media culture that now pervades society is something few saw coming.

“The fake news sites and easy appropriation of that term by politicians trying to cast doubt on uncomfortable stories threatens everyone in the news business.

“We all need to do more to champion the value of proper journalism against the onslaught of criticism from partisan interests.

“But far more dangerous and anti-democratic are recent moves by politicians to curtail the historic freedom of the press.

“I’m sure I don’t need to rehash the arguments against the Max Mosley-funded regulator Impress and the scandalous section 40, to this audience.

“But it goes without saying that is has never been more important for everyone in the news industry to form a united front against these efforts at state regulation of the UK media.

“In an age when anyone with a social media account or blog considers themselves a journalist; when MPS stretch out to stymie the free press, with a small but vocal rabble of newspaper-haters cheering them on; in an age when circulations are challenged and advertisers increasingly plough their cash into tax avoiding billion pound social media companies.

“It is vital that everyone, from local to national reporter, and especially the talented journalists working in press agencies across the UK, speak up for our industry and the important work we do.”


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