Stroud journalist Caroline Molloy has been shortlisted for the British Journalism Awards for her investigation into the NHS Test and Trace fiasco.
Working for openDemocracy, she revealed the Government renewed Serco and Sitel’s contact tracing contract even though the firms reached less than half of the people they were supposed to.
The story was among a record number of entries received by the Press Gazette, which hosts the awards.
“I had a little dance around my kitchen – we were all really pleased. openDemocracy is quite a small outlet compared to the likes of the Financial Times, Channel 4 and the other nominees, but I guess we hit above our weight,” said Ms Molloy.
Her investigation found the Government were not localising Test and Trace teams, as the press reported, but continuing to fund Serco and Sitel’s centralised call centre – albeit with regional call targets.
It cost the taxpayer £900 for each person to be traced by the company, who were awarded their initial contract without public competition.
“The role of journalism has never been more important. Comments are made in Parliament all the time that it’s journalists that are uncovering what’s really going on with the Government’s response to this pandemic,” said Ms Molloy.
In 2013, Ms Molloy began her career in journalism after a successful campaign to stop the privatisation of hospitals in Gloucestershire.
She said she had always wanted to become a journalist but could not afford journalism school.
After writing blogs about her hospitals campaign, she landed a job at openDemocracy and has been writing for them ever since.
“I didn’t take a conventional route into journalism so sometimes I feel like I have slight imposter syndrome, so it’s nice to get professional recognition,” said Ms Molloy.
“The awards are all online this year but I might put on a swanky dress at home.”
Besides openDemocracy, Ms Molloy gets her news from the Guardian, the Telegraph, ‘dry government websites,’ and, of course, the Stroud News & Journal.
She advised upcoming journalists to check their biases, read official statements carefully and keep any anger out of journalism.
The winners of the British Journalism Awards will be announced at a virtual event on December 9.