BSkyB takes news channel award

Upstart news web Al Jazeera English, which bowed November 2006, has triumphed at the U.K.’s Royal Television Society’s annual Television Journalism Awards.

Reporter Hamish MacDonald, an Australian who is based in Kuala Lumpur, won the young journalist of the year award, beating colleague Haru Mutasa and ITN journalist Nima Elbagir.

MacDonald was praised for his “confidence, style and spirit, particularly the reporting from Malaysia in the thick of the pro-democracy demonstrations broken up by water cannon. Real star quality.”

It was the first RTS prize for the fledgling service. Al Jazeera English was also nominated for news channel of the year, but for the seventh time in six years Sky News bagged the prize.

Judges praised the rolling news web for being “highly polished and outstanding in their coverage of domestic and human interest stories.”

Sky also scooped the innovation award, for its program about new media, Sky.com News, and won television journalist of the year for reporter Alex Crawford, who has covered the recent turmoil in Pakistan for the channel.

But the night’s biggest victor was the BBC, winner of seven awards.

These included winning the presenter’s prize, which was given to attack dog public affairs anchor Jeremy Paxman of BBC2’s “Newsnight.”

The judges’ award went to Alan Johnston, the BBC Gaza correspondent held captive for nearly four months last year.

The RTS said his conduct throughout his ordeal reflected enormous credit on journalism, but added that he was being recognized “not for being kidnapped but for extraordinary journalism.”

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