The award, presented on Tuesday to Sun editor Tony Gallagher at the Gala Dinner to mark the Society of Editors’ 20th Anniversary, was to recognise the good causes championed by The Sun over five decades.
In a recorded video message from New York, Sun owner Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of News Corp, praised the paper’s readers for having helped to raise more than £100 million since the paper’s launch in 1969.
“This award is for fifty years of championing good causes. And tonight I want to thank our millions of readers over the years. Without them, The Sun would not have been as positive a force at every step of the way. Our readers have been right behind us.
“When we have campaigned for changes to the law, we’ve had postbags, petitions full of our readers’ support. And when we have told readers about causes that have needed support, they have fundraised and made a difference.
“In the last fifty years, Sun readers have contributed £100 million to charity, from raising money for Help for Heroes at a time when our wounded troops were being vilified, to knitting blankets for children freezing in refugee camps, we have seen numerous acts of huge generosity.”
Mr Murdoch added: “I want to thank the Society of Editors for standing up for us on many occasions when free speech has been challenged. It remains under serious threat from capricious law makers and the politically correct, who increasingly seek an insidious censorship.
“Free speech is vital to a functioning democracy and a right so precious that it should be cherished.
“Everyone here has a responsibility to give a voice to the voiceless and empower the powerless. Thank you for all that you do for our industry.”
The special award was presented to editor Tony Gallagher by President of the Society of Editors Ian MacGregor at the dinner held at Stationers’ Hall in London. Mr Gallagher thanked the Society for the award and praised The Sun’s readers for their generosity.
The Society also presented a lifetime achievement award to journalist and broadcaster Kate Adie at the Gala Dinner.
The Gala Dinner followed the Society of Editors’ Conference, also held at Stationers’ Hall, where delegates witnessed debates on the future role of the editor, the digital newsroom, the continuing importance of investigative journalism, and the state of press freedom in the UK.
Those taking part in the conference included Elizabeth Denham, UK Information Commissioner; Assistant Commissioner for the Met, Neil Basu; national newspaper editors Alison Phillips of the Daily Mirror, Chris Evans of The Telegraph, and Christian Broughton of The Independent.