Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Praise the newspaper gods

It's been a pretty good 2010 so far.
Newspaper editorial space has increased as advertising revenue gradually goes up. Our bosses are still maintaining it's tough out there but our front line ad staff spread a more hopeful gospel.
Our team is getting some cracking tales and the papers are looking great.
It's a time for optimism and forward thinking.
So tell me why the two organisers of our only UK wide regional press awards have decided that this year they will axe their events.
Wilmington, former owners of the Press Gazette managed to retain the rights to both the Regional Press Awards and the British Press Awards after the PG went tits up. The British Press Awards is still running this year, the Regionals however are being 'rested' (whatever the fuck that means).
The Newspaper Society has cancelled all three of its awards this year including the Weekly Newspaper of the Year blaming 'market conditions' and 'a need to improve the format of the awards'.
Apparently newspaper owners "felt unable to commit".
To my, oh so cynical, mind I say what a pile of horsecock.
For years the press awards have been an easy way to make a lot of money. At £40-£50 per entry and £100-£130 per seat at a table should your organisation get shortlisted, it's easy money.
But now the taps are turned off.
We had to pay our own entries last year so most of the office did not bother. And try getting a seat for the main event after one of your team got lucky. You may as well have asked the MD to suck you off.
Both awards went ahead and you could see the organisers shifting uncomfortably in their seats as the halls were half empty.
The writing was on the wall then and even I can see how bean counters actually have some justification in not paying out more than £1,000 in entry fees and a further bag of sand should we get an invite to the big show.
But this industry needs awards. Regional newspapers, now more than ever, need recognition for the great work some still do.
EDF are thankfully still doing theirs but they are only region by region. Other more localised awards are still going on and some groups are doing the in-house variety.
Journalists work long hours for shit money and one of the highlights of the year is the opportunity to put on a tux and take the piss out of your peers at a free booze up.
It also helps to recognise that bringing out good papers still matters and allows junior staff to make their CV a little more exciting with a press award or two.
It's a shame that once again money gets in the way. I wonder what entry fees and event tickets would cost if the events were not for profit.
Here's my suggestion. Get the big five newspaper publishers to stump up the running costs for a 2010 awards for the regional press. Make entry free and shortlisters get a gratis ticket to the big night.
After all each of these publishers crow about winning awards in their titles so there must be some commercial gain to this whole process.
Would £50/100k be enough to hold the first Local Newspaper Awards.
After all if the chief executive of Newsquest can cash in £200k worth of company shares to stick in his own piggy bank surely his company (and the others) can stump up ten or twenty large each to put a smile on their many thousands of employee's cherubic faces.
Fuck me, I don't half live in a dream world!!