Best Newspaper Under 4,000 circulation
Entries were up in the category this year, which was pleasing, but it would be nice to see all eligible papers enter next year. The standard of the entries was good and one improved a lot from the start of the year to the last paper in the judging.
The runner-up this year is the Southern Argus and the winner is the Plains Producer.
The Producer won last year and continued to provide good content in an appealing format again this year.
Again it had a good local story count and plenty of local faces in each edition.
The Producer is a solid, well rounded paper that serves its many communities well. Its paging ranged from 56 to 64 pages and it feels weighty in one’s hands.
There are a high number of local news stories covering the various local issues, and a good amount of sport. The general sports coverage is extensive and has been moved to the back of the paper, which I find flows better for readers and the paper in general. There were a good number of junior sports photos in a couple of the issues, which is always well received by the children, parents and grandparents and is good for readership.
I do find the cricket results in particular a little hard to follow, but the rest of the sport is well written for any country community. News photographs were well thought out and didn’t always have people ‘looking down the barrel’, which gives a different angle and doesn’t mean they all look the same.
The front pages were of a high quality, with large, interesting photographs to get a reader’s attention.
The paper is well laid out and the colour that was behind some of the articles last year had gone from the issues presented to me, so this was a positive move.
The advertising content was good, including healthy advertising features, good EGN and a pleasing number of classified ads, as well as real estate, particularly earlier in the year.
This is a very good newspaper that reflects an obviously passionate group of people involved in its production. Well done to all involved.
2nd-The Southern Argus
The Argus has improved out of site since I last saw an issue, which no doubt came about from new owners and staff.
As the year went along there were many improvements made to the paper, the advertising content increased as did the number of local stories and photographs. I like the use of bylines as readers can get to know journalists and they were well used in the papers presented to me.
The Argus always had a healthy sports section, which has continued and there were lots of local names and faces for readers.
The ad content increased as the year went on, including features, which always bolster revenue and pages.
As a traditionalist, colour behind stories and headlines should be avoided where possible as it makes text harder to read and can make pages look a little bit like fruit salad.
Apart from that, the papers should be well received by the local community.
3rd-The Border Times
The local story count again was high in the paper despite the page numbers being smaller than the others in the category.
Journalist Deirdre Graham works hard to cover as many local issues as possible. The stories and photographs feature local people and local issues, including the traditional ‘parish pump’ that local newspapers have relied on for years.
Sports coverage was good for the small communities and the number of advertisements looked to have increased over last year.
Working with low page numbers can often be difficult but the story count in general was high, and most photographs were named, which gives them more relevance for readers.