Best Newspaper under 4,000
2022 Country Press Awards – Best Newspaper circ under 4,000
While making it harder to judge, it was great to get a larger number of entries this year.
Overall the quality of papers was of a high standard and paging is generally excellent with readers getting value for money.
Mostly, all photographs were named and story counts were high.
I know new gathering has become more challenging with organisations trying to control what is released, but I wonder if as a whole, more time could be spent reporting on local government affairs that affect people. In the past the industry sometimes became too absorbed with the goings on of our councils and less with the outcomes for people, but councils still can be an excellent source of news that directly affects our communities. I understand budgets and time are tight, but attendance at meetings not only provides a new source but also builds good relationships that can be fruitful for other news gathering.
Deciding on a winner was very hard and I’ve split hairs to make the decision between the top to this year.
The Eyre Peninsula Advocate
The Advocate has a short history but the four papers presented show that it had fine breeding.
It is packed full of local advertising and had good paging – up to 80 pages in one issue – and in what must be unprecedented on Eyre Peninsula, one issue had 34 pages of sport. Admittedly it was grand final week for winter sports but the coverage was outstanding.
Across the papers there were plenty of photographs with names and faces, solid news and community news content, and a clean layout. It was pleasing to see regular real estate advertising and a healthy classified section.
There was a drop off in the ‘harder’ type news and breaking stories, but overall the readers would enjoy it.
The Fleurieu Sun
As with the Advocate, this publication hasn’t been around for very long but its quality was high.
It reflected well the concerns of the community and highlighted a number of issues that were affecting people within its readership. There were up to 64 pages in the issues presented this year and photographs were accompanied by names and featured local people.
The experience of the journalists and or editor shone through with a good eye for a story and well written and researched stories.
There was plenty of real estate advertising and editorial in the paper and the sports coverage was good.
Local letters to the editor were plenty, which is reflective of an engaged readership.
Again, this would be good value for local readers and will only improve as it further embeds itself into the community.
The Southern Argus
The Argus got first place over the Sun by a whisker but it is a deserved winner.
The Argus is a shining light in what is local news gathering and sport reporting, as well as a solid outlet for local business to sell their wares.
The editorial team published a large number of good, local newsy stories about things that were affecting their community. There was solid local government coverage on thigs that mattered to people and the sport coverage, for which the Argus was well known, has only got better with loads of local faces along with names.
There was a series on homelessness in two of the papers presented that showed what country newspapers can do when they are close to their communities. It was informative and showed the journalist had done plenty of work to get the articles together.
As with the Sun, the local letters were many and about topics of concern for locals.
There were very healthy advertising features presented on different stock, which would entice the reader, and the local advertising levels would please the owners.
I’m not convinced the classies need to be on the back page but who is to say it’s wrong.
The Argus isn’t the ‘prettiest’ in the category but content is king and it has plenty of that.
The Barrier Daily Truth
There’s a good mix of local and state/nation news in the paper each week as well as strong opinion pieces.
There was some quite hard-hitting news that was covered well in the editions but I would like to see fewer generic photographs and more photographs with local people and names on them.
This is still a high quality publication that serves its readership well. It has a high advertising content and good real estate with editorial to back it up.
The Valley Magazine was a high quality and welcome addition to an already fat 88-page paper, with great production and photographs.
The middle two papers showed perhaps a lack of staff or other issue as the story count dropped away and photographs became bigger, but all in all this is still a solid publication.
Journalist Deirdre Graham has again produced a high number of stories for each issue.
There are plenty of local stories and photographs in the issues presented, and a good sports coverage with local names to go with local faces.
There was good classified advertising and a health trade directory even given the small number of pages.
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