2017 BEST NEWSPAPER – over 4000

Judge: Bruce Morgan

Judging the Best Newspaper, over 4000 circulation, for 2017 was the most difficult to date. The six entries were all a very high standard.  This became more obvious with the withdrawal of the Fairfax newspapers, which in recent years had shown clearly the effects of cutbacks.

What these six best represent is committed community engagement. It is heartening to see independent publishers who understand that their communities “own” them, that they are truly the journal of record.

This is borne out by the positive way in which these papers lobby and rally and give their communities a voice.

It is a pity in some respects that there had to be a winner. In judging over the categories of Editorial, Advertising, Printing and Typography there was just nine points separating 1st and the last three.

The fact that the 2015 winner, the Murray Pioneer, did not make the top 3 this year – and it has hardly slipped in its endeavours – just goes to show what a tight contest it was.

Of course, judging is subjective but I have tried to give each newspaper points on as level a playing field as possible.

So, here it goes:

  • Yorke Peninsula Country Times: By a solitary point, the Times has won for successive years and it looks to be a great team effort. The Times is a complete package with excellent community focus. It has strong editorial/letters and engagement with its readers that is 2nd to none. The Times sports section is detailed and clearly open to all-comers. It is obviously a busy Advertising team with thoughtful presentations and excellent classifies (although why the key back page is given over to free ads remains a mystery but it must be popular). Its printing standard was equal best and layouts and types, clean and easily navigated.
  • The Border Watch: A very worthy 2nd place for this multi-award winner. With the look and feel of a daily newspaper, The Border Watch remains strong on breaking news and community activism. It isn’t the only entry to embrace online, but this one does it well and incorporates it into the pages through Social Feed. For such a community-engaged newspaper, it is surprising that there are so few letters (over one week/four editions, there were just three). Another good example of classified presentation, and the stronger stock for real estate is a stand-out. Features were also strong, such as the regular On The Land. Equal on points in printing and typography.
  • The Courier: There are many strengths in The Courier; it simply is a fine community newspaper and clearly proud to serve. It is consistent in news and sport presentation and places emphasis on editorial opinion and encouraging letters. There is strong local advertising content, despite tougher times, and has maintained a high quality classified and trades section. The Courier comes off its press looking good and uses its types well.

And the rest (not necessarily in order):

Murray Pioneer: its mid-year move to a more traditional tabloid form was successful and this 2015 winner remains a strong, balanced community newspaper. Some excellent features, such as the Wedding and Vocational guides, and Real Estate on higher GSM stock lifted the advertising standard. As a bi-weekly, it seems to stretch its sport a little but maintains excellent editorial and letters engagement.

The Bunyip: Maintains a consistent standard and good local content. It presents on quality stock but the wide leading makes the stories more difficult to read. It also creates a story count issue often. Nevertheless, The Bunyip has excellent community engagement, imaginative local advertising and a strong real estate guide on higher-grade stock.

The Leader: With some very good car and real estate ads, The Leader almost comes across as a newspaper from better days gone by. Together with strong classifieds and business directory, it has plenty to offer the Barossa community. I loved the Valentine’s Day “Have your Kissed your Paper” promotion. The Leader also is strong on sport (a lift-out), People pictures and a notable Police news section.

COUNTRY PRESS SA

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