Known for his dry wit and eye rolls, Simon will be taking a break from presenting Afternoon Live on the BBC News channel to host the KPBA ceremony at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury on Friday, July 13.
Entries are now open for the not-for-profit awards scheme, which is organised by Tunbridge Wells-based PR and marketing agency Maxim, and is designed to celebrate and reward regional and local journalism.
Simon McCoy said: “I’m delighted to be hosting the Kent Press & Broadcast Awards as I’m a huge fan of local news publications. My training was on local newspapers and one of my most treasured possessions is a front page of a copy of the Bristol Evening Post, because it has my byline on it.
“In an age of ‘fake’ news, when you see that local newspapers feature on the CV of any applicant, from a journalistic point of view you know they’re a cut above the rest. These days almost every story that we run on TV news has originated in a local newspaper, and in my view, they’ve never been more important than they are today.
“I’d go as far as to say that I believe the Grenfell fire may never have happened if there had been a decent independent local newspaper – but as we now know, all the papers in the area were owned by the council. Never underestimate the difference that good local journalism can make to the people it represents.”
Simon began his broadcasting career when he joined TV-am as a news editor, leaving in 1988 to go to Sky, initially as a producer on the Sky News breakfast programme Sunrise.
He joined the BBC in 2004, presenting on both BBC Breakfast and the BBC News channel, subsequently taking over the morning slot on BBC News, the BBC’s rolling news network. He is also regularly seen on BBC1 throughout the day as the main bulletin presenter.
Simon was on the roster for coverage of the birth of Prince George of Cambridge. Stationed outside St Mary's Hospital with often little or no news to share, McCoy's comments concerning the value of the news coverage made for often sympathetic headlines.
Maxim’s Rachel Knight said: “We are so pleased Simon agreed to host this year’s awards ceremony. Keeping 70 or so journalists under control is no mean feat but I’m sure he’s the man for the job. Last year we conducted a survey with the Kent media to make sure we were running the awards in the best way possible. Having a host with a good story to tell proved important to our guests so we’re looking forward to his tales.
“Following the feedback we received, we’ve also made a few changes including expanding the independent judging panel and introducing new categories. To recognise the many journalists at the beginning of their careers, we have introduced Kent New Journalist of the Year for those in their first 12 months of work, as well as keeping Kent Young Journalist of the Year.”
This year three new judges join the panel: Gillian Hargreaves, who spent 25 years with BBC news; Rebecca Smith, former senior editor for Kent Regional News and Media; and Leo Whitlock, a local newspaper journalist for more than 20 years, much of which was spent at the KM Media Group.
They join Susie Boniface, a national journalist known as Fleet Street Fox; PA photographer Gareth Fuller; sports journalist and lecturer Paul Majendie; digital consultant Patrick Fuller; and journalist and lecturer Dr Sarah Lonsdale.
KPBA consists of 15 categories covering print, broadcast, digital, social media and design. They are:
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