Slugger Awards: Best Local Newpaper…

This award is primarily aimed at those often hard pressed newspapers which serve the hyper local needs of communities, both inside Belfast and far beyond its bounds. At the beginning of the Troubles, some forty years ago, there were more than fifty of them, and they provided the real news for the bigger regional and national titles. It is no coincidence that the decline of local news has been concomitant with the hollowing out of the national press.It’s the place where people read about the future plans of large corporate and council plans for the redevelopment of old town centres. And it’s meat and drink to a representative democracy in which communication with constituents never just one way. This category relies more than most on what you can tell us about your candidate, and why you think it deserves to win this award?

With your nominations, please try to include:

1. How your paper brings people closer to local government, and helps hold it to account?
2. Tell us some of it’s biggest achievements/stories in the last 12 months?
3. What you believe makes a good local paper?

You can make your nominations either here or on the main Slugger site. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate.

  • Concubhar

    Nuacht24
    http://andrumamor.blogspot.com
    a vital non grant aided resource for the Irish language community and lovers of An Ghaeilge. Online primarily.print edition posted to subscribers. All praise to editor Eoghan O Neill and his team for having the courage and stamina for a thankless task.

  • Drumlins Rock

    With a little reluctance I would like to nominate my local rag,
    “The Dungannon News and Tyrone Courier”
    or simply the Courier to most, the reluctance is because it is a local past-time to criticise its content, or lack of it, a phrase newsagent hear hundreds of times each Wednesday is “ack sure there nothing in it but you have to buy it anyways” we also like to laugh at a picture of a cow with the caption “The Mayor congratulates so & so” underneath, or sometihng similar.
    So lets talk about the news imput, its all the local stuff as you expect, occasionally wider issues occur, but always with a local spin, it avoids gossip and scandal even when confirmed by the courts etc. as there are too many toes to tramp on (not to mention advertisers)but they leave you plenty of room to read between the lines and get the story just the same. To be blunt the news content is nothing brilliant, but the thing is its there! it covers brithdays, Lodge Dinners, GAA dinners, births deaths and marriages, graduation pics, ack you know all that stuff, its all there.
    So what makes it different from the rest? well so far as I know its sales are steadily growing yr upon yr, and it is profitable, but still remains a local paper, be that for an ever expanding area.
    Originally percieved as the local Unionist Paper it has strengthened it appeal to Nationalists too, in a deeply divided area, and probably is found in the vast majority of all homes across the borough, and is spreading further across Tyrone into Armagh and up in south Londonderry, so now you get full colour pull outs for the All Ireland Final as well as the 12th.
    The political balance is all the more interesting when you consider it is owned by the Alpha Group, ie. Lord Kilcloony ie. John Taylor, and is his flagship title, but it is very much a business and can be rooflessly commerical to deal with.
    So maybe not an exciting nomination, but we are talking local papers here! and if survival is the name of the game then surely if one is flourishing then it is worthy of the award.

  • Mark McGreg

    For feck’s sake, why do i always end up doing Devil’s Advocate on these things!

    The Belfast Media Group has to be considered for its three Belfast titles – Andersonstown News, North and South Belfast news.

    The paper consistently delivers what its readers want though, as with all papers, with a party political bias.

    Its innovation with things like the inclusion of blog content, readers texts and the Aisling awards are all part of it trying to connect with the community it serves. It continually highlights campaigns and works on them e.g. issues like the Holland murder and the Quinn rape.

    It is a tabloid but it has built a loyal and extended readership stretching way beyond Belfast.

    As locals go I can’t think of one as successful, extended in geographical take up and as often talked about.

    I hate the SF rag but it does deserve a place in this category.

  • I think ‘hate’ is a strong word in the context of a newspaper, Mark.

    As a former employee of BMG, ie editor of Lá Nua, I think that the titles newspapers in Belfast are second to none in the provision of local news and the service of the community. It wears its heart on its sleeve in terms of politics surely – but that’s because West Belfast is dominated by SF. The South Belfast News has a place for all comers and features politicians of all hues. That newspaper by itself is worthy of recognition – but in my view the Andersonstown News, for whom I spent many happy years writing a TV column, should also be in the running. The North Belfast News is a class act in so many ways. If these newspaperes aren’t considered for awards by Slugger, it would be a poor reflection on the awards rather than on the newspapers.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Can i be a bit pedantic Greg and say one paper per person, 🙂 other wise I would have to stick the whole Alpha Group in my nomination, just when you mention the andytown news, not being from belfast have never read it, but any mention of it still makes me think of “The Angrytown News” and the feud with Newt on his “Portadown News” site.

  • As an ex-resident of East Belfast who finds every excuse to return, I’d have to throw a copy of the East Belfast Herald into the ring.

    Name another weekly paper that has started up this year? Radio 4 couldn’t find another! With a strong local feel, breaking local stories, covering local events, it’s opening up the whole of East Belfast to the community.

    Not afraid to include stories about Short Strand, and cover both “sides” of stories – like the rally to mark the closure of Mountpottinger Police Station and the subsequent violence where they covered reactions and responses from everyone involved.

    Despite the small team, they seem to be ever-present (or well informed!) and turning up to report and snap community events in churches, schools and on the roads as well as DPP meetings, Assembly Roadshows and exam results.

    They seem to be breaking stories too – the recent admission from Northern Ireland Water that their shiny new Belfast sewers won’t stop the regular flooding in the east of the city, this week’s news that the Ulster Hospital (with its reported £1m new foyer) is included in the bed cuts (while everyone else talks about the Royal and the City), and went to print about the Titanic Quarter apartments long before the Bel Tel picked it up.

  • Paul Reilly

    I’d like to echo Alan’s sentiments, and nominate the East Belfast Herald.

    The paper hasn’t had an easy ride – operationally speaking – since its January launch.

    But its ability to source imaginative East-centric news is faultless.

    The Herald exudes the values crucial to any weekly paper – local news for local people.

    This is clearly illustrated in dedicated, localised pages for every community in the East – Ballyhack, Short Strand, Knock, Dundonald etc.

    Herald reporters followed the contentious Mountpottinger barracks closure prior to mass regional exposure.

    The paper also continues to hold policing authorities to account, recently breaking news that CCTV man hours will be cut at Strandtown.

    Its non-partisan reportage should be commended, and recognition should be given to editor Fiona Rutherford for being brave enough to launch in the face of economic gloom.

    I must state, I am a regular contributor to the Herald.

    However, I feel my small insight into the paper’s professional editorial process, and enthusiastic journalism merely makes my nomination more credible.

    Here’s to Fiona, Donna, Mark and Susan.

  • RepublicanStones

    I second Drumlins vote. But just to keep up appearences I suggest the Dungannon Observer as well (had to Drumlins….sorry), broadsheet in two sections with the same parochial dinner dances and local nonsense. Excellent GAA coverage, particularly the ‘Around the clubs’ section. Although both it and the courier have so much local advertising, news really is a secondary issue it seems.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Hi RS, not regular reader of the observer TBH, they must be one of the few still on broadsheet, unfortunately it means i rarely pick it up even in the library or the barbers, but it seems to be an indepth community paper with almost a “big family” feel. Dont think it has ever attempted to crossover and embrace the protestant community but counld be wrong, I guessing the courier has cut into its readership as it has increased its GAA coverage etc.
    Finally just have to ask do you read the Tyrone Times? have heard quite a few comment on its content having shifted from what was quite a protestant paper originally to becoming quite republican at present, they have always sat in the Couriers shadow but it seems are concentrating on expanding the catholic readership now.

  • Neil

    ATN for me as well. Up until they started charging for online content I thought their web site was fantastic. Every paper online in it’s original ‘paper’ format, which makes it a piece of piss to track down specific articles or pictures (they cover damn near every kids football team in WB, so it’s good for them to see their mugs in the paper, and encourages them to stick with the footie).

    Their texts page is also great, many a slanging match has been moved from the streets into the texts page of ATN. Basically they give the majorityt of the WB public more or less exactly what they want.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Drumlin
    The Tyrone Courier has to be the worst local newpaper in the country.
    It has no editorial content to speak of and isn’t even edited properly. I’ve seen better free weeklies.
    Thank goodness Taylor hasn’t yet brought some of his more recent acquisitions like the Tyrone Con down to the Courier level.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nominations, not criticisms please!!!

    Offer your own please, but we’re not inviting people to rip up but build up…

    When it gets to sifting the shortlist, a readers panel will have several copies of each candidate in in front of them..

    The quality controls at the end of the process… are good for that… My concern is that we have enough viable candidates in the first place…

    There’s loads: Fermanagh Herald, Tyrone Constition, Londonderry Sentinel, Derry Journal, the Ballymoney Times, the Mourne Observer, Down Recorder..

    If you are outside the Belfast bubble then tell us who is doing well in your area…

  • I’m slightly torn because a number of publications I would have put up have already been mentioned.

    An Druma Mór and Nuacht24 (www.andrumamornuacht.blogspot.com) are a breath of fresh air for the Irish speaking community and provide an up to date news service from all over the world. Believe me, I have been in their office several times and Eoghan, Cáitlín and the rest of the team deserve high praise for all the work they do. Maith sibh a chairde!!

    The Andytown News is one of the most effective papers at getting across grassroots issues, vitally important to the community; the Harry holland case has already been mentioned but to be fair the ATN has been to the fore in highlighting stories like this an others in such a straight and ‘in your face’ (and rightly so!) way that it is worthy of recognition. Plus it is community based and does support numerous community initatives and organisations.

    The East Belfast Herald is a welcome addition to the scene. I have had dealings with this paper since it’s formation and I would reiterate the fact that unlike previous papers in the east, it is doing it’s upmost to represent the many different shades of opinion in this part of Béal Feirste. They are a new paper and like most they are a struggling paper, they deserve recognition for not just their work to get the ‘scéal’ from everyone but as mentioned they have broken numerous stories since coming on the market. Take it from me, their reporters are relentless! But in a good way of course!!

    Go n-eirí leo uilig!!

  • colin

    What about the Down Democrat

  • DC

    The Daily Herald.

  • RepublicanStones

    Drumlins never really read the Tyrone Times, always seemed a poor relation to both the courier and Obsvr. The Obvs doesn’t do LOL meetings like the courier, pretty indepth GAA coverage also and in that respect isn’t maybe aren’t as cross community, so you’d be correct there. Hadn’t heard about the shift in emphasis on the ‘Times’, will check it out, although its probably still as bad, just coming from different starting point. TBH growing up, our household always had both the courier and Obsvr, so i suppose the Courier should get the nod ahead because of its broader appeal.

  • Mick Fealty

    Tell us more Colin? We need more than just titles, we need a good reason to short list them!!

  • John Collins

    I’d say i read a lot of news – from the Irish News – Belfast Telegraph then at weekends the Sunday Times or Sunday Telegraph.

    But over the last six months i’ve been surprised by a local paper right on my doorstep the East Belfast Herald. Its really a breath of fresh air.

    They seem to have a great team in the East Herald, who i would say from reading the paper and having read the comments above listen to all the shades in East Belfast.

    Some major stories have been broken by this paper over the last number of months which i’ve followed with great interest.

    Having met two of their reporters over the last few weeks the enthusiasm i got from them really makes this local paper stand out.

    What makes a good paper hmmmm a paper that takes time to listen to its readers – a paper that ask’s the hard questions – a paper that encourages local debate – a paper that can bring all shades together.

    I’d say the East Belfast Herald ticks all those boxes !!

    Keep up the good work East Belfast Herald

    JC

  • Salem

    The Ulster Star ?? lol

  • I’d like to throw my support in behind the East Belfast Herald. Their team has taken on a unique challenge of providing a cross community view in one of Belfast’s most divided areas.

    In fighting to break down the barriers between our communities across the city, the East Belfast Herald represents an attempt to use the press for good, rather than paint a pessimistic picture of the East of the City.

    Fiona, Mark and Donna are hard working and committed journalists, who don’t stoop to the levels of some of our Nationwide commentators (e.g. Jan Moir and Kevin Myers) and instead try to build a link between the people of the Strand and the people of the Newtownards Road.

    I wish them all the very best in the future.

    S

  • GGN

    Nuacht 24 – andrumamornuacht.blogspot.com & http://www.nuacht24.com.

    “2. Tell us some of it’s biggest achievements/stories in the last 12 months?”

    Putting out unfunded Irish language newspaper each week to a very high standard is a great achievement in itself.

    On top of this the paper is of a high standard and has many good writers.

    Undoubtedly, my nomination is for Nuacht 24, Eoghan O Neill and his team are to be applauded for there achievement in this economic climate. Their committment is inspiring.

  • How does one become a courier without any experience?
    Courier Service

  • Gown Reader

    I’d like to nominate Queen’s University student newspaper ‘The Gown’ if I may:

    In the past, I didn’t like it at all- it seemed a bit pointless, and students weren’t really aware it existed. This academic year though, I feel The Gown has really raised its game and become an excitingly promising publication.

    The paper, which receives no funding from Queen’s and is run entirely by the student volunteers, has increased production from about four issues a year to become fortnightly. I know myself that the workload of the average student makes this rather admirable acheivement.

    It also has a new website that seems to be updated every other day, with students really taking an interest and leaving comments on the articles. I think over time, this is going to help build such a more active student community at QUB, which has been criticised for its passive, ‘home to mummy’ populous.

    As the only publication at University that is not a pile of PR-machine drivel, it helps to tackle student issues that otherwise aren’t covered in the general press.

    Some of the writers seem to be very well informed, and as someone who wouldn’t be very politically-aware, I find the student fees stories to be a particularly good read. Over the past few weeks the paper has also tackled anti-social behaviour issues in the Holylands, and even covered a story about a Neo-Nazi website targeting students.

    I think for students, if we can be proud of a publication and feel that it represents us, then it’s a good paper. The Gown startling turnaround is great, and I can say that makes me proud to be a Queen’s student.

  • Ronnie Mac

    I’d like to nominate the East Belfast Herald on account of the high quality of its website.

    http://www.ebherald.com/

    Clean, uncluttered and appealing to the eye (apart from that unsightly DUP advert!)

    Online is the direction local papers need to go…

  • RG Cuan

    Nuacht24 without a doubt. No other media group in these islands could produce such a publication without investment.

    Constantly delivers in its weekly print format and has shown great foresight with its soon-to-be-launched online service, http://www.nuacht24.com

  • Vic

    I’d like to nominate my local paper, the Derry News. It got itself into a spot of bother with Derry City this year because it dared to be run an article critical of the club, and got itself banned in the process, http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/sports/090908derryban.shtml
    as well as having a set of balls, the Derry News is also the only local rag that covers all the local council meetings and courts and isn’t afraid to piss people off when needed. So for that reason, I think it should be Local Newspaper of the Year.