Best Newspaper Over 4,000 Circulation
Looking at and judging the best country press SA Newspaper with a circulation of over 4,000, it was heartening to see local newspapers covering nearly all parts of life in a country town. That is the job of the local paper, to report faithfully the goings on in our communities. No other medium holds a candle to the local newspaper when it comes to reporting and recording the life and times of country life.
Part of our charter is to educate and capture young readers to develop the habit of buying the local newspaper for our future success.
Getting on with life with Covid still with us has affected businesses across Australia and in turn the local newspapers of country Australia. Despite that I congratulate all the entrants in this year’s SA awards.
The newspapers I have looked at are of a very good standard with reporters doing their jobs well, writing local news and sport for an interested local reading audience.
This year The Border Watch was placed first in the award, with consistently engaging clean, bold headlines, picture and a main story with a couple of lead-in stories on the front page. Also on the front page was a very soft line underneath the paper banner pointing to regular sections within the paper without making the front page messy. The Border Watch produce weekly, a consistently clean newspaper with most stories having a bold headline to alert the reader as well as a picture relating to the story. Local general news is well covered and the sports section outstanding. There is also consistent space throughout the publication and body type size of editorial does not change. The paper is a well finished off product although I did note the pictures may be able to be adjusted to suit the dull newsprint as some looked a little cold and a tad flat.
Second place this year went to the Murray Pioneer that consistently has a good headline on the front page with a couple of their stories leading the reader inside the paper. It is most important to engage the local newspaper market with one or two or three topics on the front page.
One big picture with a caption as a decoration simply does not cut it for me or I believe the interested, considered local newspaper reader. In the past other judges have nudged this point.
The Murray Pioneer like most other country SA newspapers is well laid out, and a clean presentation for its readers in print and design. The sports section in the Pioneer touches the young and older reader covering sports played in the region. The consistent double page spread headed “Opinion” including an editorial comment by the paper, demonstrates the connectedness of the paper to the community and the value of the locally produced product. Congratulations to the production and print department for producing clean and bright photographs to accompany orderly well written local editorial.
Yorke Peninsula Country Times was placed third this year and was noted for its neat layout, well printed stand out headlines throughout the publication. The sports section is extensive and detailed like many other country papers, although the sports sections of most papers starts generally from back to front, some SA papers seem to mix advertising at the back of the paper prior to sport starting, this is obviously a marketeer decision which does not do for orderly uninterrupted reading of sport.
All papers submitted were well printed with little or no marking or excessive folder nip wheel pressure. The reproduction of some black and white halftones was very good in some publications and generally the colour pictures were well produced but perhaps the Murray Pioneer had the photographs with the most life.
Again, congratulations to all entrants this year and I hope entering makes all look critically at what we produce. We must strive to produce a product that is well received in all markets to maintain a vital local news service to country communities, as well as a market audience for any advertiser to engage with in confidence.
• Common to all papers generally I would like to see more description or detail in every caption under a photograph, remember a picture tells a thousand words but the caption explains the picture story above it. Only one paper took the time to do this well consistently.
• In general people grab easily about 100-150 word stories. There is a lack of short articles even very short 50-70 word bursts, harder to write but great entry for the eye to a page. Remember we compete in a digital age of snippet news.
• Be mindful of size of type in editorial, refer to reader’s choice.
• Side step press releases