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Stuart Seaton Regional Newspaper & Journalist Award

Jamie Day
01727 836924
Jamie Day

BGAJ Stuart Seaton AwardRegional newspapers that devote some of their pages to coverage of farming and rural affairs, as well as dedicated magazines and supplements, have an important role informing the general public as well as those who live and work in land-based industries. This coveted award celebrates high quality examples of their work and the information and insight they provide to farmers and the non-farming public alike.

The winning publication receives a framed certificate and the right to carry a message indicating it is the 'Regional Farming Newspaper / Magazine of the Year' as judged by the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists.

The farming/rural affairs correspondent of the winning publication also receives a framed certificate presented at a Guild event.

Unlike most of the Guild's awards, the regional newspaper/magazine and journalist award is open to all farming and rural affairs correspondents; entrants do not have to be members of the Guild. Entries can be made by the correspondent or by the newspaper’s editor on their behalf.

The award was established in memory of Stuart Seaton, founding editor of Farmers Guardian (once a regional newspaper but now a national weekly), and is supported by his family, including his daughter, Val Chapman, who is one of the judges.

Regional farming covers

Deadline for entries: February 29, 2016

Download an entry form here.



2017 Stuart Seaton Award winner Chris Hill with Guild Deputy Chairman Catherine Linch

The 2017 Stuart Seaton Regional Journalist and Newspaper Award is made in memory of former Farmers Guardian editor Stuart Seaton.

The 2017 winner is Chris Hill of the Eastern Daily Press, based in Norwich.

Pictured above with Guild Deputy Chairman Catherine Linch, Chris also won this award in 2016.

Judges said: "Chris Hill demonstrates all round clarity of style and clear presentation of information. He is a good clear writer and makes his stories accessible to the lay reader as well as the professional farmer.

"His range of stories is good, mixing modern technology and research with more traditional activities in each issue.

"The typeface is clear and the quality and use of photography is commendable as is the use of sidebars and panels with the use of graphics and statistics very helpful to the story.'


BGAJ Stuart Seaton Award 2016 EDPThis year, the award was won by Eastern Daily Press and its farming editor Chris Hill. His entry drew praise from the judges for "thorough coverage of East Anglian farming and a clever mix of visual style and superb writing".

Chris received a certificate commemorating his award from Guild vice-chairman Catherine Linch at the Guild's Bangers'n'Beer Cereals Event reception.

The Eastern Daily Press was awarded the right to publish the 'regional newspaper award winner' citation on its Farm & Country weekly supplement.

BGAJ Stuart Seaton Award 2016 EDP

BGAJ Stuart Seaton Award 2016 EDP


Ben Briggs presents Ewan Pate with the 2015 Stuart Seaton Award

An engaging writing style and informative features saw Ewan Pate and The Courier win the 2015 Stuart Seaton Regional Newspaper and Journalist Award.

Guild chairman Ben Briggs (above left) presented Ewan (above right) with the award at the Royal Highland Show in June 2015.

This year’s judges were Emma Penny, Jane Craigie and Val Chapman (Stuart Seaton’s daughter).

The judges said of this entry: "The Courier (and Ewan) is a great example of regional farming news, and shows how the media can support a local farming community. It is an enjoyable read, as well as an excellent source of information.

"Ewan writes in an absorbing style, producing features that are punchy and informative. There is enough breadth and detail in his writing to inform his readers, clearly demonstrating that he remains up-to-date and well-connected in the sector.

"Ewan’s deep involvement and knowledge about the agricultural industry comes across in his coverage of the key issues. He asks the questions that farmers need to know the answers to, especially when it comes to detailed subjects such as CAP reform.

"He writes with farmers in mind, which is probably why this publication is so well-received by his target audience."














The award was won for the second successive year and for the third time by the Press & Journal and its farming editor, the late Joe Watson for the Aberdeen-based newspaper's daily coverage of agriculture and weekly Farming supplement published every Saturday.

Following his untimely death after the entries had been judged, Guild chairman Jane Craigie presented the regional journalist's award certificate to Joe's family.

The judges commented on the P&J's "comprehensive coverage, depth of knowledge and Joe's ability to tackle a diverse range of farming issues - from serious political and technical topics to lifestyle. All the content was well-researched, balanced, written with authority and of interest to local people."

Two other regional titles - Farm North East and The Cumberland News - were highly commended by the judges.



Stuart Seaton 2013 - P&J FarmingOne of the judges of this year's Stuart Seaton Award for farming coverage in a regional newspaper describes the winner as "an assured writer who writes with authority for his audience; his leader on Tesco shows real understanding of the subject matter."

Joe Watson, farming editor of the Press & Journal in Scotland won the title for a second time "by a whisker" from other entrants who set an excellent standard.

"The final three were really close," said another judge. "They are giving a good service to rural

Stuart Seaton 2013 - P&J Farming 2

readership with coverage of local and national farming news and general interest items too. The newspapers are obviously very committed to their farming readers, which is very positive in these difficult times for regional newspapers."

In the final judgement, Joe and the P&J with its new Farming supplement, was selected the unanimous winner by Val Chapman (the late Stuart Seaton's daughter); Isabel Davies, Farmers Weekly content editor; and last year's title holder, Heather Jones of The Farmer.

The judges felt the publication had a good mix of stories, some of which go into useful business detail for the agricultural reader. The eye-catching design and mix of lighter stories widens the appeal to the non-farming audience.

One summarised: "The Scottish title wins by a whisker. It’s a colourful supplement, easy to read with interesting farm features and a social page and motoring. I think the features are of interest to farmers and non farming readership."

Stuart Seaton 2013 - P&J Farming

The framed certificates were presented during the Guild's popular Royal Highland show reception by chairman Jane Craigie, who said: "Being local to Joe and a regular reader of the Press & Journal I can wholeheartedly endorse the merit in giving this award to Joe and the newspaper's publisher.

"The rural and farming content in the P&J is extensive and I know is very well received by both farming and non-farming readers. Joe has earned himself a well-deserved following, in particular for his interpretation of how national, European and global issues will affect the rural communities of north east Scotland.

"He is a dedicated and self-confessed 'hack' who likes to get under the skin of a story - he employs a great deal of his personal time and energies to keep the content in the P&J dynamic, informative and challenging."


Heather Jones + Adrian Bell

Heather Jones, editor of Shropshire Newspapers' The Farmer, receives the winning journalist and publication certificates from Guild chairman, Adrian Bell.

The winners of the Guild's 2011 regional farming journalism award is The Farmer, a monthly published in the West Midlands by The Shropshire Star, and its editor, Guild member Heather Jones.

In choosing the winner, Val Chapman, who judged the award with freelance Guild member Liz Falkingham, Chestnutmare Media, says she looks for three specific traits.

“First, I’m looking for the effectiveness of the entrants’ communication to farmers and those working in specifically agricultural-interest environments,” she says. “Second, I’m interested in gauging their effectiveness in communicating to non-agriculturalists, people who may know little about the subject.

“Third, I assess the writing style – clarity, conciseness, how easy it is for the reader to assimilate the information," she concludes.

Val described the writing style of runner-up award winner Joe Watson, farming editor of the Press & Journal in Aberdeen, as consistently crisp and his work as clear and concise, as well as straightforward and informative.

It was a close call, she adds, but the winner of this year’s Stuart Seaton Award, Heather Jones, editor of The Farmer scores with a friendly, warm writing style.

The Farmer"Articles are written to inform, but they also hit the tone of appealing to those on the periphery of farming," says Val. "A wide variety of topics, with lots of case studies, show that this publication is about farmers as well as about farming, and also about the community it serves.

“The winning newspaper achieves comprehensive regional coverage, giving the reader a real insight into what farmers are achieving with their businesses, and projecting a clear personality as a publication," she adds.

After receiving a certificate naming her the top regional farming/rural affairs correspondent of 2011, Heather said: "I am absolutely thrilled to win this award. It is a great accolade for The Farmer and it's all thanks to the skill, hard work and dedication of the small but very mighty team that work on it.

“I am from a farming family myself and I know that reading time is limited on today’s busy farms," she added. "With The Farmer, we aim to provide a source of regional and national farming stories and adverts, which the farming communities can dip into when needed.”

The Farmer


Guild member Peter Hall was the delighted recipient of a certificate naming him regional farming/rural affairs correspondent of 2010.

Lord Cameron + Peter Hall

Peter (above right), who received his award from Guild president Lord Cameron of Dillington at the annual meeting, has a regular Farming section in the Western Morning News covering south-west England. He was praised by the judges of the Guild’s Stuart Seation regional journalism award for his ability to understand and communicate a wide range of subject matter relevant not just to agriculture but also other rural industries and concerns.

“His strong editorship ensures the whole publication is strong on content, while retaining an open and approachable style,” said the judges of his work. “Peter’s style and knowledgeable reporting should endear his writing to a large cross-section of WMN readers and convey valuable information.”

The Western Morning News, which is awarded the title Regional Farming Newspaper of the Year 2010 for its consistently high standard of agricultural and rural affairs content, covers a region with a strong sense of identity and where farming remains a significant player within the local economy.

The award was judged by Guild chairman Adrian Bell and fellow Guild member Susie Moore.

In October 2010, Peter took over as Farming Editor of Western Daily Press, following the retirement of Chris Rundle, in addition to his existing role.

“Which means,” explained Peter, “that I'm putting together different 6-page and 8-page farming sections for the two newspapers covering an area that extends from Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire to Lands End!"


The Guild's Stuart Seaton Award for regional papers and their agricultural / rural journalists was presented at the AgriLIVE Smithfield event.

The award was open to non-members of the Guild for the frst time to give regional correspondents the opportunity to taste one of the benefits of Guild membership first hand.

The judges were unanimous in their selection of the Aberdeen-based Press & Journal newspaper and Guild member Joe Watson, its agricultural editor, as the 2009 winners.

The submissions for the award highlighted the Press & Journal's commitment to coverage of farming and rural affairs in a publication that is read throughout northern Scotland. The judges described the farming pages as being of a very high, consistent quality and a cut above the other entries.

Joe Watson receives the publication and journalist award certificates from Stuart Seaton's daughter Val Chapman.

Of Joe's content, the judges said: "His entry demonstrated originality and depth of thought, which added real value for the paper’s readers as well as helping to interest and inform those outside the agricultural industry.

"Joe is an outstanding writer, presenting facts clearly and in an interesting way, while focusing on what is relevant to his paper’s readership. In doing so, he enables his paper to rightly justify its reputation as an authoritative farming voice in its region."

The runner-up for the regional publication award was the Western Morning News and its farming editor Peter Hall, whom the judges said provided an authoritative package in empathy with his paper’s West Country readers’ interests.

There was a good entry for the 2009 award, which was ably judged by Guild president Margaret, Countess of Mar; former Farmers Weekly editor Stephen Howe; and Stuart Seaton’s daughter, Val Chapman, previously of Farmers Guardian and now publisher of Out & About magazines.


The strong entry for this renewed award, which celebrates coverage of agricultural and rural topics in regional newspapers, included the majority of Guild members working as regional journalists.

It gave the judges - Guild president the Countess of Mar; Stuart Seaton's daughter and former Farmers Guardian journalist, Val Chapman; and past Guild chairman Arthur Anderson - a particularly challenging task.

However, they chose as their winner the recently retired agricultural editor of the Yorkshire Post, Bob Benson, whose work was described as "having a general crispness of style that kept his stories moving along and covered a wide range of topics aimed at a wide audience".

Andrew Vine, head of content, received a certificate declaring the Yorkshire Post as the Guild’s Regional Newspaper of the Year for its sustained high-quality coverage of agriculture and rural affairs.

Guild president Margaret, Countess of Mar, presented the regional journalist and regional newspaper of the year awards to Robert Benson (centre) and Andrew Vine of the Yorkshire Post. Photo: Jonathan Page

Several entrants were singled out for high praise, including runner-up, Joe Watson of the Press & Journal, whose coverage was described as "easy to read, crisp and leaves you hungry for more".

Others praised for their work were Steve Dubé of the Western Mail; Mike Bridgen of the Darlington & Stockton Times, Alasdair Crosby of the Jersey Evening Post and Heather Jones of The Farmer published by Shropshire Newspapers.

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