Born and bred in Kent, award-winning journalist Ben is a familiar face on the BBC News Channel, the BBC One O’Clock News and weekend news bulletins. He will be hosting the event, which is designed to celebrate and reward local journalism, at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury on Friday 15 July.
BBC journalist Ben Brown
Entries are now open for the not-for-profit awards scheme, which is organised by Tunbridge Wells-based PR, marketing and public affairs agency Maxim. This year also sees two new experts join the independent judging panel in the form of Sky News radio journalist Kiran Bhangal and deputy news editor for Metro.co.uk Sian Elvin. Both women know the county well having worked for KMfm and Kent Live respectively.
Commenting on hosting this year’s ceremony, Ben Brown said: “Local news reporting and journalism is the lifeblood of our industry, and indeed our democracy. We need it desperately to hold power to account, and of course to keep people fully informed about the issues that matter to them, in their cities, towns and villages.
“As a trainee reporter, I worked at what was then BBC Radio Medway, which became BBC Radio Kent, and saw for myself at a young age how people rely on local news. And in local radio in Glasgow and Liverpool, I had some of the most satisfying years of my career, making contacts and breaking stories. Long may local journalism thrive!”
As a boy, Ben lived in Biddenden, Sutton Valence and Smarden. He joined the BBC more than 30 years ago and has reported on some of the biggest stories of the last few decades including the fall of the Berlin Wall, 9/11, the Rwandan genocide and the 2004 Tsunami.
He has covered many conflicts, including the first and second Gulf Wars in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya. He was the BBC’s Moscow correspondent for several years and watched the red flag come down at the Kremlin as the Soviet Union collapsed.
He has won several awards, including Bayeux War Correspondent of the Year (twice) and a Royal Television Society award for his reporting from inside a white-owned farm when it was being seized by Mugabe militants in 2000. He has also written a novel, based on his career as a foreign correspondent, entitled Sandstealers.
Maxim Director Rachel Knight said: “It’s been a tough couple of years for everyone and while we were pleased to be able to keep the Kent Press & Broadcast Awards (KPBA) going with virtual ceremonies, we can’t wait to get back in a room with everyone to celebrate Kent’s media.
“This year we have more categories than ever so hopefully there is something for everyone. KPBA remains free to enter and every finalist is invited to attend the ceremony free of charge, thanks to our very generous sponsors. We are still looking for organisations to support the awards and would love to hear from anyone interested in supporting local journalism by sponsoring a category. The ceremony is always great fun and I’m sure this year will be emotional as people meet up with their industry colleagues again.”
As well as Kiran Bhangal and Sian Elvin, the judging panel comprises Rebecca Smith, former senior editor for Kent Regional News and Media; Leo Whitlock, a local newspaper journalist for more than 20 years, much of which was spent at the KM Media Group; Susie Boniface, a national journalist known as Fleet Street Fox; digital consultant Patrick Fuller; and journalist and lecturer Dr Sarah Lonsdale.
New judges (L-R): Sky News radio journalist Kiran Bhangal and deputy news editor for Metro.co.uk Sian Elvin
KPBA consists of 16 categories covering print, broadcast, digital, photography and design. They are:
Entries must be submitted by 5pm on Friday 22 April. To find out more and download an entry form, visit www.kpbawards.co.uk. For information on becoming a category sponsor, contact Rachel Knight on 01892 513033 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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