Daily Newspaper of the Year Below 400,000 Monthly Reach
Scroll down to meet the nominees for Daily Newspaper of the Year Below 400,000 Monthly Reach – sponsored by Camelot.
Camelot is proud to support the Society of Editors’ Regional Press Awards.
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The select panel of experienced senior journalists or former journalists from all parts of the media considered the achievements of each of the entries across all platforms set out in submissions by editors. The judges were looking for service to the local community, great exclusives and successful campaigns, editorial achievements and other outstanding journalism.
THROUGHOUT the year the Echo has regularly broken national news stories and led the line reporting on incidents that have sent shockwaves across the country, not just south Essex.
There have been multiples stories and incidents this year that have seen the Echo to set the national news agenda, including the discovery of 39 bodies in Thurrock, an investigation which led to an NHS boss having his redundancy clawed back and the hunt to find a man who went missing just days before Christmas, only for his body to be sadly discovered in a lake at the start of the year.
In October, the Echo exclusively broke the news that 39 bodies were found in the back of lorry in Grays, Thurrock, before it was released by Essex Police and was quickly picked up by national and international news outlets.
Senior management within the Echo had received several tip offs from well placed sources in the early hours of the morning, and our chief reporter, Sean Davies, was able to publish the story online while senior reporter Ellis Whitehouse rushed to the scene.
He was the first reporter on site, allowing the Echo to lead coverage online with a series of stories and live blog, as well as putting together a four page package for print.
Our print coverage, including the initial news story, reaction from the scene, national outrage and the police’s battle to identify the victims, resulted in a very powerful package and front page, effectively and sensitively covering the issue.
Print sales were significantly boosted on the day of the four page package, while the Echo has continued to lead the way on the ongoing story, breaking the news on the identity of the victims as well as regularly covering ongoing court cases relating to the incident.
In the same month the Echo broke the news on the lorry deaths, and investigation by our Chief Reporter, Sean Davies, gained huge plaudits and national attention after it uncovered that a senior NHS boss was handed an eye-watering £200,000 redundancy package, only to rejoin the NHS again months later.
Clinical commissioning group board papers revealed that Ian Stidston, effectively CEO with the Southend Clinical Commissioning Group was made redundant and handed £150,000 for redundancy and £50,000 in lieu of notice.
Just months later he joined Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group in a senior position, with the two groups set to merge, prompting concerns he had received the NHS pay out and essentially then rejoined the health service.
The investigation made national titles, and once we contacted our MPs, as a group they decided to take action and investigate alongside Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Four south Essex MPs, James Duddridge, Rebecca Harris, David Amess and Mark Francois, all met with Mr Hancock just days after the Echo broke the story.
During the meeting it was decided that Mr Hancock would order the former boss to pay back the redundancy cash.
Again, the Echo broke the news online and in print that the money would be repaid before it was picked up by a number of national of media outlets.
National attention was also pointed at south Essex at the start of 2019, with a campaign to find a man who went missing in the early hours of December 23 taking centre stage across Essex and further afield.
The Echo led on the initial missing person’s campaign, and worked closely with residents in the area as searches took place in the days following Christmas and into the New Year.
Echo reporters were the first to break the news that police would drain a large lake in a park as part of the search, and were on the scene as police began the thankless task.
The search lasted until January 3, when the Echo broke the news that sadly the man’s body had been found in the lake.
Chief Reporter Sean Davies was on the scene at the lake as police confirmed off-the-record that a body had been found and that an announcement would be made shortly. The message was fed back to the in-office team who set up a story ready to publish as soon as the information was confirmed.
Once again the Echo was able to break the news online and followed the web story with a two page package on the sad announcement, tributes, and coverage from the scene including a strong pictorial element.
Due to the nature of the incident, the Echo was careful to cover the incident sensitively and appropriately.
The Echo had run multiple stories and packages on the hunt to find the missing man in the build up, working alongside the community to cover the story as effectively as possible, and continued to cover the story through until the man’s inquest in the summer.
From breaking exclusives to setting the national agenda, the Echo proves it is up to the job time and again. Wonderful professionalism throughout.
Three editions plucked from just one week in March highlight the consistency of the Birmingham Mail’s news, sport and features offering.
FRIDAY MARCH 1, 2019: I SURVIVED PUB BOMBING
Splashing on the pub bombings inquest for which the Mail had campaigned, this edition brought home the horror of the terrorist attack as seen through the eyes of survivor David Grafton.
He lived only because he had just gone to the bar in the Tavern In The Town. The two girls he had been chatting to seconds before were killed by the blast.
Comprehensive coverage of the inquest continued every day of the hearings. When other news media moved on to the next big thing, the Mail remained constant in their support of the families.
The edition reveals police staff shortages caused by the decision to send officers to Birmingham Airport, where the coffin of IRA bomber James McDade was being flown home.
Elsewhere in the same edition, readers learned of the life sentence handed to killer Carlton Donaldson, who murdered Dan Baird outside another Birmingham pub.
The Mail has worked with Dan’s widow, Lynne, in a successful campaign to install ‘bleed kits’ at city centre locations, and these have already saved lives.
In other stories, there is a tale of two cities – the high-rise Birmingham of the past, and the city of the future, home to the 2022 Commonwealth Games and HS2.
The Mail’s Mike Lockley – crowned Columnist of the Year at last year’s Regional Press Awards, offers his take on city life, and Friday Live is our regular entertainment guide.
The sports page look ahead to the weekend’s match action, although without the usual back page, its place here taken atypically by a full page advertisement.
MONDAY MARCH 4, 2019: NHS TELLS NURSE,29: YOU’RE NOT ILL ENOUGH
The high impact front page story of a Birmingham Childrens Hospital nurse stricken by illness resulted in huge reader reaction.
Clare Mullarkey had to pay out £40,000 for life-saving stem cell treatment after her application to the NHS for assistance was turned down.
In other news pages, the Mail revealed how the daughter of drug mule Khadija Shah had finally been released from a Pakistani prison.
The newspaper had followed her story since the arrest, and run a number of news features highlighting the tot’s plight.
Elsewhere, to give our continuing coverage of the pub bombing inquest a new slant while highly technical evidence about concrete was presented in court, we ran four pages of previously unseen photographs of the victims, putting the focus back on the human tragedy. These were ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances.
There are looks to the future, with the world’s biggest Primark and a new designer outlet village set to open.
And the inclusion of Monday’s regular 16-page Game On sports pullout carries all the weekend’s action and results.
FRIDAY MARCH 8, 2019: 18-MONTH JAIL TERM FOR DANGEROUS DRIVER WHO KILLED CERYS IS ‘AN INSULT’
The death of Cerys Edwards had long been a cause for controversy in the Birmingham Mail circulation area.
The news that food company heir Antonio Boporan was finally to be tried for causing the little girl’s death had met with jubilation from her family.
He had previously been jailed for 21 months for dangerous driving, leaving Cerys brain-damaged and requiring round-the-clock care.
When she died, he was charged with dangerous driving causing her death, and admitted the charge. But the 18-month sentence Boporan then received sparked outrage.
But this was a day when we could easily have splashed on the anniversary of the shooting of Sapper Mark Quinsey.
We decided to run two high impact news spreads running from page two to page five to give proper prominence to both stories.
Further inside, we revealed exclusively how West Midlands Police was being further stretched by more than 4,400 false burglar alarms every year.
There was light at the end of the Birmingham bin strike tunnel; more development’s in the LBGT lessons taught in city schools, and another human interest story from the pub bombings inquest.
Over the course of the year, the Birmingham Mail has carved out an identity separate to that of sister website BirminghamLive, offering a different news agenda.
The pub bombings coverage, for example, appeared every day in the Mail but more sporadically online, and the NHS nurse story was not high on the digital agenda.
A small team of print writers – Mike Lockley, Jeanette Oldham, Andy Richards and Alison Stacey – is tasked with longer read print-first or print-only copy.
It means that the Birmingham Mail, which celebrates its 150th anniversary in September, regularly delivers real exclusives that appear online only after print publication.
Consistent in its commitment to quality news and features, the Mail shows how a big city region should be covered with scoops, exclusives and dogged determination to get the story right.
It isn’t the biggest newspaper in Scotland and it doesn’t have a national footprint.
It can’t boast the biggest staff, a vast array of “specialists” or the kind of budget enjoyed by its more illustrious rivals.
So why on earth would it even dare to be considered the best paper of the year in Scotland?
Well, what the Dundee Evening Telegraph has in spades is passion, commitment, drive, dedication and an unbreakable bond with the audience it serves.
It is the paper that brings you not, like others, the story of interim Everton manager Duncan Ferguson revealing his football career was hampered by an injury picked up in a Dundee pub brawl, but the story of the person who meted out the beating in his own words. All under the memorable banner headline “I put the nut on Big Dunc”.
While others relentlessly report the news as seen on BBC 24 the night before, the Evening Telegraph quietly goes about getting the shower tax – a scandalous charge levied on some of the Dundee’s most vulnerable council tenants – axed.
When Police Scotland is branded a laughing stock for urging people to prepare an emergency “grab bag”, the Tele responds with a tongue in cheek contest offering a branded goodie bag designed to help its readers survive “in the post-apocalyptic wastelands”.
The Tele uses state-of-the-art digital print-head technology to offer unique competitions to its readers. Its judicious use of video and increasingly sophisticated digital offering sees its website rack up more than 100,000 page views a day.
Its Twa Teams One Street podcast is challenging The Guardian and The Athletic at UK-wide award ceremonies.
All these bells and whistles are welcome and help to offer readers something different – key to maintaining the Evening Telegraph’s position as one of the nation’s best performing evening titles – but it will never forget that it is all about the people and communities it serves.
Investigative journalism remains critical, perhaps now more than ever, and every Tele reporter knows the product exists to serve the reader and hold authority to account.
Trust is never taken for granted, with reporters working tirelessly on a daily basis to earn it. The result is editions – in paper and online – bursting with unique local content.
There are, of course, staples. Back in the Day pics and the daily letters page provide a valuable forum, much loved by readers, but 2019 also saw new platforms, including the Tele Takeover which sees a page from the paper given over entirely to children from local schools. This has proved to be a massively popular feature, helping to cement the links between the brand and the people it is so proud to serve.
The Evening Telegraph boasts it offers its readers something different and lives up to that claim. Passion, commitment, drive, dedication and a bond with its readers? Most definitely. And a wonderful sense of humour.
Jersey Evening Post
The Jersey Evening Post does not report on what might traditionally be called a busy news patch. Crime rates are low, the threat of terrorism even lower and deaths from road accidents are thankfully rare. We do, however, serve a busy and diverse community with a strong sense of local identity and a truly global outlook. And every day, we deliver a cracking read.
To meet the high expectations of an engaged and highly-informed readership, we have to work hard for our stories. Reporting requires a deep understanding of our community, strong relationships, trusted contacts and a news sense that can turn a rough nugget into a memorable front-page exclusive.
Our readers know their Island and demand that we report with authority, showing knowledge of political, social, cultural and historical context. Many stories run for weeks, months and years and reporting them effectively requires a sophisticated understanding of long-running narratives.
We are both a mini national paper, reporting on an autonomous government and global off-shore finance centre, and a hyper-local parish-pump publication that must reflect a community we’ve served for 130 years. Today, the JEP reaches 42% of the adult population every day, and 72% each week, penetration stats that most papers would die for.
During 2019 we broke exclusive stories about everything from water contamination, chemical spills and the legalisation of the cultivation of medicinal cannabis to French spies in the Island’s finance industry, public sector spending, education funding and even the return of the 1980s TV show Bergerac.
The JEP gives oxygen to public debate by publishing a daily comment spread, featuring four columnists a day expressing views of every hue, and a very lively and colourful daily letters spread which is an Island institution.
The JEP has a vital role to play both reflecting life in the Island and campaigning on a host of issues in the public interest. These campaigns can be short-term and with a very defined goal, such as our successful VAT off Sky TV campaign explained below. They can also be longer term and about keep important issues at the forefront of people’s minds. Our influential daily leader column, a critical friend for thousands, steers and informs public debate. Through this column and other opinion pieces we have championed inclusion and diversity, greater awareness about mental health, respect and appreciation of Jersey’s unique heritage and culture and environmental issues. In 2019, we launched a new magazine focusing on environmental issues called ecoJersey, which was complemented by regular in-paper coverage and used as a springboard for community eco events. We believe in active campaigning – in achieving tangible outcomes that improve the lives of our readers rather than simply writing about the issues.
We have also played a crucial role as the fourth estate, safeguarding press and democratic freedoms in the face of an ever more organised and cynical government communications department, promoting free speech, debate and open justice, and demanding politicians and civil servants are held accountable for the decisions they make about our readers’ money and futures.
We have retained what many local papers have sadly lost – relevance. The JEP – its news and views – are at the heart of conversations in workplaces, homes, the corridors of power and a host of the places every day. In too many places across Britain it is hard to remember what it was like having a local newspaper. In Jersey, it is hard to imagine the community without the JEP.
The three papers chosen showcase different ways in which we delivered in these areas in 2019.
Government accountability – fighting for readers’ right to know
During 2019, a team of highly-paid UK civil servants were brought in to review and transform Jersey’s public sector. Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent on consultants and interims. The JEP played an essential role, using freedom of information legislation, its contacts and leaks, to break a string of exclusives revealing how money has been spent. We exposed extraordinary deals and the lack of political accountability for these behind-the-scenes agreements – all at a time of public sector cuts and unprecedented strikes as pay freezes were being imposed on front-line staff – our readers.
2019 saw an explosion of interest in environmental issues and campaigning. To reflect this, to inform readers, to encourage positive action and mobilise the community, we launched ecoJersey. At its heart was a standalone magazine titled ecoJersey, complemented by in-paper ecoJersey content and a series of events. We brought together business leaders, activists, politicians and other influencers and encouraged dialogue and collaboration all with the aim of making Jersey an eco-pioneer. Many – from suited finance bosses to dreadlocked activists – had never been in the same room together before. Under the ecoJersey banner, we organised mass-participation community events, including the Coastal and Countryside Clean-ups. Hundreds joined us to scour the Island for rubbish. We also launched the ecoJersey Eco Fund to support grassroots environmental projects and crowned Jersey Environmental champion of the Year, one of 13 categories at our annual Pride of Jersey awards which celebrates the extraordinary achievements of ordinary Islanders. Throughout 2019, we broke exclusives about pollution scandals, investigations into air quality and what was being done about Jersey’s fridge and asbestos ‘mountains’.
Sky VAT campaign
The cost of living in Jersey is high and fighting to get our readers a better deal has been an important part of the JEP’s campaigning for many years. In 2005, we won a series of significant victories by successfully arguing that big-brand UK retailers should stop charging their Jersey customers VAT, which is not applicable in the Island. Roll on 14 years and Sky had slipped back into charging VAT on TV packages costing hundreds of pounds a year. For months, we wrangled with Sky arguing that they should amend their pricing structure and were knocked back for a host of spurious reasons. We continued to put pressure on and finally won the argument, saving hundreds of very grateful readers a small fortune.
For winning their battle with Sky TV alone, the JEP surely wins the hearts and support of its tight community readership. And where others might be tempted to sit back and take their community for granted, the JEP puts heart and soul into its coverage. A true paper for the people in every way.
South Wales Evening Post
Exclusive stories, investigative journalism and community campaigns underpinned the work of the South Wales Evening Post during 2019.
Our ongoing investigation into alleged fraud at Swansea University continued at the start of the new year, with our team securing exclusive new lines on the story.
The Post led the coverage on both the university probe and subsequent police investigation, which had seen the suspension, and later dismissal, of several senior members of staff, and questions raised over a key project within the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal.
This complex investigation involved considerable time and effort, required a strong contacts book to stay ahead of the story, and talented writing to explain the detail in an engaging way.
Another project within the City Deal scheme, to build a £130m digital arena, was another strong example of the Post leading the way through exclusive updates on new developments. Our coverage cemented the Post’s position at the trusted source of information.
The poor condition of the city centre continues to frustrate our community, and the Post has worked hard to maintain pressure on the city council for action. Our persistence to find the truth behind one particular eyesore revealed a risk to public safety that had initially been explained as cosmetic changes to a building.
We also exposed a risk to safety on our roads, revealing that the city’s new high-tech speed camera system was still inactive, despite being installed nine months previously.
Our coverage of NHS issues culminated in an in-depth look at life on the wards of Swansea’s busiest hospital, with our reporter providing a personal insight into the daily challenges faced by staff. Our persistence and contacts secured access to the ward team, getting us to the heart of the story, and demonstrating our determination to get beyond the headlines to the people who matter.
As the voice of its community, the Post provided a platform to highlight a myriad of local issues.
While social media may be the main vehicle to source stories and comments today, it’s still vital to get reporters on the ground and into the places we serve.
Our feature on a notorious Swansea tower block complex saw us get to the people whose lives had been blighted by drugs, crime and prostitution. Under the headline, ‘I don’t leave home at night’, our coverage told the real-life stories of fear and intimidation.
We also uncovered bad news for leaseholders of luxury apartments at Swansea marina, where our patience in gaining the trust of residents helped us reveal how they were facing repair bills totalling more than £5m.
Our ongoing coverage helped provide the residents with a strong voice and later in the year they would win their fight against footing the bill.
Elsewhere in the city, after first revealing council plans to build homes on Swansea’s main parkland, our subsequent coverage led to the establishment of a campaign group and eventual scrapping of the proposal.
Another home-building idea, as revealed by the Post, was to build on the sea, with 10,000 properties proposed on a ‘lagoon island’. This was one of several exclusive stories written on the lagoon project during 2019.
The Post’s sports desk had plenty of content for the front of the book, with plans to merge two rugby regions – and bitter rivals – providing strong coverage and newspaper sales.
Perhaps our most rewarding piece of work came at the end of the year, with our Christmas appeal to feed hungry families.
This appeal highlighted the power a local newspaper retains in the digital era. Its ability to galvanise a large number of people into action cannot be underestimated.
Over the course of several weeks, we used case studies along with features on charities and support groups to tell the true story of poverty in Swansea, and how working families were struggling to afford any kind of celebration during the festive season.
Our coverage helped to build momentum behind the appeal. We were supported by various groups acting as donation points, and secured a partnership with the Co-Op to collect goods inside their stores across South West Wales.
We asked for specific items of food, with the aim to create 100 hampers for those most in need, identified through our relationship with the county council.
An army of volunteers signed up to help pack the donations at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium, a few days before Christmas.
It was quite overwhelming to see the stadium’s press room literally filled with food donations, with van-loads of goods arriving throughout the morning.
On the one hand, it was satisfying to see the power of a local newspaper that is an integral part of its community, supported by its loyal readership to be a force for good.
On the other, the sad reality that every crumb packed into each hamper was needed by someone facing a desperate financial situation.
This fact was lost on no-one as we put more than 300 hampers together that day – smashing our initial target and helping more families in the process.
In addition, through cash donations or other items like clothes and toys, a total of 900 homes were supported through this year’s appeal.
The sheer depth and breadth of the paper’s commitment to its readers shines through. Every community should be served by an Evening Post. Tremendous reporting.
The Mail, Barrow
The Mail, Barrow is a daily newspaper with a lot of heart. Serving a population of 60,000 people, the title has proved time and time again it is tackling the issues and concerns important to its readers. The three editions submitted for these awards show clearly how the small team behind the paper is in-tune with the town and the changes and developments within it.
The Mail team – made up of just six reporters – is passionate, committed and above all is committed to making the title the best it can be.
Entry One – Time to Talk
The start of 2019 was a bleak time for the community of Barrow-in-Furness. There was a number of high profile deaths and the team at The Mail noticed a very sad pattern. Those who passed away were all young men in their early teens to mid 20s and they had all felt they had nowhere to turn. There were five deaths in a three week period. So The Mail set out to change the way the community thinks bout mental health. We tried to reduce the stigma around mental health by starting a conversation, get local health bosses to offer more support to those in need and equip the community by highlighting the charities and groups offering support.
As well as carrying regular features with local charities, promoting events and starting discussions online, The Mail team lived and breathed the campaign encouraging readers to be kinder to each other.
Mental health sufferers even opened up with the paper to tell readers there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Reporters joined local events such as the Mental Health Mile and local boxing sessions designed to offer people struggling to reach out a safe place to go.
The campaign quickly gained the support of the families who had lost loved ones. With many featuring in the paper to share their story in the hope of preventing another family going through what they have.
The Mayor of Barrow even revealed his own personal tragedy – how his son had died prematurely after taking his own life.
After six months of campaigning, the health trust announced they were taking our calls on-board. Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group announced they were to roll out suicide prevention training and mental health first aid training at many of Barrow’s biggest employers.
Entry Two – Murder
The case of Jonathan Macmillan was a sad one for all involved. A story of a son with serious mental health problems and a father trying to support him. Through interviews with friends and neighbours, The Mail quickly discovered there was more than just a domestic incident at the heart of this murder. What was to unfold hit all of the national newspapers with syndicated content from The Mail. It turned out schizophrenic Jonathan was accidentally released from a secure mental health hospital three weeks early. He then returned home and killed his father. The coroner condemned the lack of care Jonathan received and called for a inquiry and for lessons to be learnt.
The Mail team knew about the circumstances of what had happened almost immediately just a short time after the murder. The Mail team worked tirelessly together over a short window of time to find tributes ahead of deadline.
Entry Three – Urology investigation
2019 saw The Mail’s big urology investigation. Whispers of another Morecambe Bay baby scandal saw The Mail’s chief reporter Amy Fenton showed what she does best – get to the bottom of a story. Teaming up with two NHS whistleblowers The Mail ran a number of exclusives – stories of patients who had been left unable to have sex after being operated on at Furness General Hospital, a culture of bullying at the trust, doctors identified as ‘a risk’ still being allowed to work at the trust, a patient death at the hands of an incompetent doctor and patients waking from surgery to discover body parts missing because of clinical errors.
The Mail’s investigation led to calls from the coroner, MP, whistleblowers and campaigners for an investigation. The GMC struck off one doctor involved and MPTS is looking into the capabilities of others.
Patients have seen better service and hospital bosses have spoken out about the goings on. The matter has also been discussed in Parliament thanks to the hard work and determination of The Mail team.
Can this really be a paper produced by just six reporters? Amazing quality and professionalism from what is obviously a dedicated team determined to do their town and region proud. Wonderful coverage.
This year the Western Mail celebrates a phenomenal 150 years as a respected, sought-after source of trusted news.
Its proven track record in reporting what matters to Wales continues with pride as our newsroom is driven each day to set the agenda in delivering the news, issues and opinions that count for this fantastic, proud nation.
We feel this responsibility keenly, working with limited resource, to create a huge package of quality articles, features and authoritative analysis with eye-catching, comprehensive design across a massive range of subjects. Accuracy, insight and scrutiny are at the forefront of what we do.
With original treatments and angles, our expert journalists provide in-depth public interest news coverage, exclusives and investigations. Take, for example, our coverage of major 2019 news breaks such as Wylfa (18/1/2019, which resulted from a tip minutes before deadline demanding a tight, comprehensive, expert turnaround), Ford’s closure and the M4 relief road refusal. Take, also, Chief reporter Martin Shipton’s exclusive about a minister completely caught off guard (26/6/19). And how we lead reporting on the aftermath of ex-Minister Carl Sargeant’s death and the Swansea University corruption probes.
Reporters also delve into communities’ hearts – Anna Lewis’ portrayal of Abertillery’s issues (10/11/2019) and Will Hayward’s of poverty in Penrhiwceiber are two (1/6/2019 of the many such must-reads we have featured this year.
With attention to detail, Western Mail journalists pay real attention to what is going on around them and listen to and act on our readers’ interests and concerns. Digital analytics help us hone this further. The results of this are reflected in every edition – take, for example, Ruth Mosalski putting readers’ questions to First Minister Mark Drakeford in a Q&A; an example of accessible, intelligent journalism.
Each day there are expert sections from a 16-page Sport pullout on Mondays, Country and Farming pages on Tuesdays, a 20-page Business pullout on Wednesdays, Education pages on Thursdays, a 16-page What’s On pullout for Fridays’ editions and Saturday’s popular 16-page property pullout.
The daily WM2 section also gives the Western Mail the opportunity to showcase opinions from a wide-range of different voices and authorities, plus give space to showcase fantastic real-life features and photographs, which offer fascinating, engaging insights.
Columnists such as the award-winning Carolyn Hitt, top ref Nigel Owens and Professor Laura McAllister add to the Western Mail’s engaging appeal across all topic areas and platforms, including each Saturday’s brilliant 80-page Weekend magazine.
Weekend magazine’s arts, culture, literary and culinary coverage has been expanded in response to readers’ feedback. These pages have fast won the reputation of being the go-to authority for Wales’ culture and food lovers.
We like to interview celebrities first-hand and shine the light on achievements with journalists like David Owens, Karen Price and Kathryn Williams developing enviable showbiz contacts books. Kathryn’s Gavin & Stacey exclusives last Christmas are the result and examples of the relationships our reporters build up over years.
We like to innovate – take the weekly political podcast interviews conducted by Mr Shipton.
And have fun – see our iconic Six Nations and Rugby World Cup poster front pages. Sport, of course, is an integral part of the Western Mail’s lively mix as we pride ourselves on delivering the latest news and deepest analysis to match our readers’ interests. And 2019’s Rugby World Cup in Japan was the perfect opportunity to do this with massive preparation paying off to ensure 24-hour reporting from our team both here and from our man-on-the-ground in Japan, Matt Southcombe, would translate seamlessly into great print content.
Add our commitment to campaigning too – take our 2019 Wales Against Plastics campaign that chimes perfectly with current environmental concern and inspires with a series of informed articles and in practice with organised beach and park litter picks.
We are also not shy of offering our readers great promotions such as the chance to win a trip to India and £500 to spend at John Lewis.
And we are particularly excited to celebrate quality journalism in the Western Mail’s 150th anniversary year, which has been marked with an initial eight-page pullout and regular monthly features reminding readers of the title’s fascinating history and significant position within the fabric of Welsh life. It has been just one valuable way of reminding readers of how the Western Mail will report on what matters for Wales.
But each day its content also does this by approaching the news agenda from a perspective that delivers for our readers’ interests in a way London-based media cannot do, particularly with the march of Brexit, devolution and fake news. We know our patch and we deliver each day through the prism of what each issue means for Wales and our readers. Our coverage of the 2019 General Election is the perfect example of this – where readers turn to us as a trusted source – as we continue to set the news agenda here in Wales with solid, trusted, important, consistent, detailed content and striking images and design.
Never has this – the Western Mail’s journalistic commitment to the highest standards and integrity – been more important. And we are particularly proud and excited to champion this in the Western Mail’s 150th anniversary year.
The Western Mail hasn’t survived for 150 years without knowing and understanding its readers and this comes shining through. Still brimming with ideas and enthusiasm after 15 decades.
Yorkshire Evening Post
Leeds has a fantastic story to tell. And as the new editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, it is my mission to look at how we can truly champion the city through quality, trusted local journalism and tell our own success story.
I am incredibly proud of the YEP and the talented team have wasted no time in working hard to help make sure the city of Leeds is as proud of the title as I am.
Our newsroom has not only set the national news agenda but the international agenda after the title and its journalists were at the centre of an unprecedented onslaught of abuse.
The story, which graced this title’s front page and online in December about a little boy who slept on the floor at Leeds General Infirmary, was branded as “fake news” as thousands across Twitter and Facebook shared and spread the claims. The story has been viewed over 670k times online since publication.
We were contacted by readers calling our journalism “sloppy” and questioning why we weren’t printing the truth. We were forced to defend our journalism like never before.
Everyone has the freedom to read what they want. Yet we were not willing to sit by idly and watch on as the misinformation continued to be swallowed by those trying to discern the truth between truth and lies.
The YEP made a bold statement – we published the fiction that was circulating and warned the public to be careful when it comes to ensuring what they share across media platforms.
The response to this was humbling and reaffirmed exactly why society needs journalists and solid quality, fact-checked journalism to wade through the mire of noise and fakery online.
One response sums it up: “the deeper people have dug and delved they have unearthed nothing but integrity, honesty and determination to do the right thing.”
And that is exactly why local journalism matters. Honesty, integrity and trust are at the heart of our stories. Our industry is under constant attack as keyboard warriors tap out grenades across the social battlefield.
Over the last few months our team of reporters have been working hard to get under the skin of the topics that matter to our readers to rebuild those relationships within the community as part of my vision and strategy to reconnect and build a stronger audience base online and in print.
We launched a campaign called Unlock the Gridlock to highlight the dire state of Leeds’ creaking transport network as commuters face a daily battle to travel from one side of the city to another. We even extended an open invitation to the Transport Secretary to come and see the mess for himself so we can work locally and nationally to look at how to fix the transport chaos that blights Leeds. He accepted that invitation and as such as secured a number of pledges that we will be holding the Government to account on.
And we launched our own brand of Impact Journalism – it’s about shining the spotlight on the gritty topics that provoke and stir emotion among our readers.
The key to this is using our platforms as a conduit to allow the voices of our readers to be channeled to make sure their stories are front and centre of everything that we do.
So far we’ve covered women’s safety on the streets of Leeds, the rise in religious hate crime and what it’s like living in a divided city by sparking the debate to reconnect with our audience. The results have been encouraging as we’ve had previously disconnected communities tell us just how pleased they are that our team is shining the spotlight on them and not just visiting when there is a crime scene in place. They are reconnecting with the YEP brand.
We’ve campaigned on social inequality and the fact that one child born in one part of the city can live ten years longer than another baby born in a nearby postcode and we’ve featured on national television talking about this very issue. We even took this important matter to the Prime Minister to ask for answers on how we address this.
We’ve championed Leeds United’s centenary as we know just how important the club is not only to our readers but to the city of Leeds as a whole. The YEP spearheaded a campaign to secure the Freedom of the City to Leeds’ legendary Revie team and as such was the first time the honour had been bestowed on a team. During our coverage we hosted a live Q&A with Leeds legends Tony Dorigo and Eddie Gray compered by our Leeds United writers and invited readers to ask their questions. We also compiled a special collectors’ supplement throughout the week and our coverage showed week on week increases of 9 per cent in print.
And we were the first title that Olympic Golden girl Nicola Adams spoke to when it came to announcing her retirement from boxing. The YEP had been with her from day one and she wanted to make sure that our readers were the first she told about her news.
We’ve also celebrated the health heroes who go above and beyond at the YEP’s Health Awards and we recently launched our Have A Heart campaign to help the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Fund crack its £1m target on top of reaching our £3m target for our long-standing Half and Half hospice appeal.
Our industry is under the cosh as never before and that is why the YEP has to make sure it stands out from the crowd with its news agenda. We have to champion our city and we have to be in tune with the city’s heartbeat – and that means making sure readers are at the very heart of everything we do.
But team YEP will uphold the cornerstone of journalism to hold the powerful to account to make the city rightly proud of a title that has served it since 1890.
When they were accused of sloppy journalism, the YEP hit back – and how. But then again with such a pedigree of fine journalism there was no doubting the result. The YEP shines out as an example of how to do it right. Superb stuff.