CAMPAIGN MEDIA AWARDS: Campaign Gold Award - Media Achiever of the Year - David Yelland

If Campaign's Media Achiever of the Year was judged even in part on a person's self-promotional skills, then The Sun's editor, David Yelland, almost certainly wouldn't be picking up the award. This or any other year. He wouldn't even be close.

That's not to suggest that he's either modest or a shrinking violet.

You're not going to last for long in the dog-eat-dog world of tabloid journalism if you are of a shy or delicate nature - and Yelland has been the editor of the UK's biggest-selling daily newspaper since 1998.

On the other hand, there have been those - rival editors mainly - willing to suggest that Yelland is a man who has much about which he has every right to be modest. And a year ago, you might even have been tempted to listen.

Back then, many in the industry were beginning to believe that The Sun had been strategically outmanoeuvred and was being overwhelmed in a classic pincer movement. The Daily Mirror, they believed, was right in taking the high ground (a return to campaigning journalism and high moral seriousness in the wake of 9/11) while the Daily Star had sneaked round the other side and was making credible inroads into The Sun's cheeky chappie franchise.

Some thought The Sun was looking unsure of its role. Its heyday - the loadsamoney and union-bashing Thatcherite 80s, when The Sun under the editorship of Kelvin MacKenzie regularly sold well in excess of four million - was surely long gone. There were even those prepared to whisper that The Sun's time had passed.

There were also rumours, no doubt helped mischievously on their way by certain individuals at Canary Wharf, that the knives might be out for Yelland. And last December, as the gap between The Sun and the Mirror seemed to be narrowing, an editorial in the Mirror accused Yelland of being the worst Sun editor of all time and called him a "hopeless little spiv" before waspishly pleading with Rupert Murdoch not to fire him.

Well, they needn't have bothered. The Sun has had a triumphant year.

In purely numerical terms, the sweetest point must have been the announcement of the June ABC figures, which showed that The Sun was now selling 1.7 million copies more than the Mirror - the biggest gap under Yelland's editorship. But the figures have looked pretty good month by month this year and The Sun is one of the newspaper market's few growth stories.

Some of that, people will argue, is down to price cuts which have seen the paper selling for 10p - an expensive way to buy sales. But the price war was started by Mirror Group. Yelland and his senior managers at News Group have merely responded decisively and they have clearly been up for the fight. It has galvanized the whole team and morale on the editorial floor is reportedly high.

And let's not forget that it has been a vintage year editorially for The Sun. One front page in particular this year - The Beck Us Pray invitation to an act of communal faith healing where the Beckham metatarsal was concerned - had everyone talking; and it is more than abundantly clear that Yelland, as most of his predecessors have done, can genuinely tap into the national mood.

Last but not least, as the circulation war with the Mirror has unfolded and as the nature of Yelland's victory has become clearer, he has been subject to intemperate and vitriolic attacks from a surprising array of sources. For instance, there was a characteristically spiteful piece in the Evening Standard as recently as October, penned by the former Sunday Times editor, Andrew Neil. Some observers are clearly disappointed that The Sun's political influence does not seem to be on the wane.

Yelland has shown that he can respond when necessary but everyone has been impressed by the calm and measured way he has carried himself. Across much of this year it has indeed seemed like a man against boys where the cut and thrust of the newspaper market is concerned. In a difficult year for the newspaper industry, one man stood head and shoulders above the rest.

David Yelland is a worthy winner of Campaign's Media Achiever of the Year award.

Previous winners: 2001 Michael Jackson; 2000 Caroline Marland; 1999 Marjorie Scardino; 1998 David Elstein.


1998-present Editor, The Sun

1996-98 Deputy editor, New York Post

1993-96 Business editor, New York Post

1993 New York correspondent, The Sun

1990-93 City editor, The Sun

1988-90 City reporter, Thomson Regional Newspapers, London

1988 Journalist, North West Times and Sunday Times Manchester

1987-88 News and industrial reporter, Northern Echo, Darlington

1985-87 Junior reporter, Bucks Advertiser

1984-85 Graduate trainee journalist, Westminster Press

1984 Graduated from Lanchester Polytechnic, Coventry


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