The Oscars of UK’s print journalism, the British Press Awards, were held in a London hotel last week. Geldof took to the stage to deliver an award to The Sun, the best-selling tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. While praising The Sun’s coverage of Africa, he also lambasted several other newspapers in a speech peppered with expletives.
The former Boomtown Rats frontman described the Daily Mail’s coverage of a charity event, Comic Relief, as “a disgrace.” He also berated the editor of The Independent for failing to place the crisis in Africa on its front page. The Independent is the flagship title of Irish businessman Tony O’Reilly.
The British Press Awards have been plagued with controversy in recent years — in 2004, a tabloid editor and a famous motoring journalist came to blows at the event. But the row sparked by Geldof’s speech seems to have been the last straw.
Ten editors of national British newspapers released a statement on Friday withdrawing their support for the awards. The editors stated, “the organization of these awards brings little credit to the industry or to the newspapers who win them.”
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger added, “There seems to be a feeling that we could, as an industry, come up with awards — and an awards ceremony — which better reflected the best of British journalism.”