Recording of the online 2020 presentation of BJR’s Charles Wheeler Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcast Journalism, awarded to Hugh Pym, Health Editor, BBC News.
Hugh Pym is the BBC’s Health editor, and has become a familiar face and voice of authority during the pandemic. He began his journalism career in radio before moving to Channel 4 as a producer of Business Daily and then spent 10 years as an ITN correspondent. After a short stint at Sky News, he joined the BBC in 2001 and rose to become Chief Economics Correspondent and then acting Economics Editor. He was appointed as Health Editor in 2014.
Hugh’s ability to explain some of the complex causes of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as his commentary on scientific evidence and government responses has been one of the defining features of news coverage over the last six months, at a time that BBC news audiences have risen to record levels. He has co-authored two books, on the Credit Crunch and on Gordon Brown’s first year as Chancellor, and his latest book Inside the Banking Crisis was published by Bloomsbury in 2014.
Hugh’s acceptance speech is followed by this year’s keynote speaker Sir Peter Bazalgette.
Sir Peter is chairman of ITV and a former President of the Royal Television Society who started his 40-year media career as a BBC News Trainee. He used his speech to emphasise the continuing democratic, cultural and economic benefits of public service broadcasting, and the vital role that impartiality plays in ensuring that broadcast journalism provides “a gold standard of trust and reliability”. At a time when the government has established a panel to examine the future of Public Service Broadcasting and is considering legislation to tackle online harms, this was a timely and important intervention.
The Wheeler Award was started by Prof Steven Barnett in 2009 and has been hosted each year by the University of Westminster in conjunction with the British Journalism Review. Former winners include Jeremy Paxman, Lindsay Hilsum, Robin Lustig and Katya Adler. This year’s award was conducted online, but we hope to resume normal service next year in the Regent Street Cinema.”