Top honour for Portsmouth News defence correspondent

The Maritime Media awards were held in the Institute of Directors building in London.' Picture: LA(Phot) Nicky Wilson
The Maritime Media awards were held in the Institute of Directors building in London.' Picture: LA(Phot) Nicky Wilson

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AS A naval city, our readers have come to expect the very highest quality defence reporting from The News.

We pride ourselves on being the first with naval news from overseas operations and at home.

Now our defence correspondent Sam Bannister has been given the prestigious Desmond Wettern Media Award for his illuminating reporting from one of the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 destroyers, HMS Dragon.

Sam was the first journalist to embed with the Royal Navy while HMS Dragon was on her maiden deployment to deter piracy and ensure that the shipping lanes were kept open in the Gulf in 2013.

He was trusted with unprecedented access to the ship’s company to give a picture of the work that is carried out in difficult conditions and that was recognised by the Maritime Foundation, the organisers of the award.

Sam said: ‘It was a real honour to pick up the award for my reporting of naval issues in The News.

‘Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy and therefore it is rightly a topic of significant interest to our readers. We remain proud as a paper to stand almost alone in the regional press in maintaining our defence post and believe we give the subject the coverage it deserves.

‘But if it wasn’t for the men and women of the naval service who are hard at work in every corner of the world doing such a good job 365 days a year, I wouldn’t have so many good stories to tell.

‘This award wouldn’t be possible without their incredible efforts and co-operation.’

Mark Waldron, editor of The News, said: ‘This is a prestigious accolade and Sam is a truly deserving winner. It was pleasing to hear that the judges were “bowled over” by the quality and depth of his writing – talents we are lucky to have at our disposal on a daily basis.

The News remains proud to be the home-town paper of the Royal Navy and I think Sam’s award is a reflection of the importance we continue to place on our coverage of the senior service.’

Desmond Wettern was the former naval correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. He died in 1991.

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, said: ‘I should like to thank all the sponsors and salute all the entries, winners or not, because you are all at the forefront of informing and educating and so have all made a truly valuable contribution in promoting maritime understanding.’

‘Unafraid to broach controversial issues’

THE MARITIME Foundation initiated the Desmond Wettern Media Award in memory of the renowned former naval correspondent.

Awarding the prize to The News’ Sam Bannister the judges said he was ‘unafraid to broach controversial issues, his reporting remains balanced and objective throughout.’

They added: ‘The diplomatic links so vital to naval operations have been recognised and well presented in a way that creates public awareness of a wider context implicit in naval operations. His style is clear and concise and the features presented, particularly covering the deployment of HMS Dragon, have been crafted imaginatively and illustrated with care.’