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Panpa Bulletin : May 2006
6 | PaNPa bULLETIN May 2006 NEWS The Whakatane Beacon was judged to be the overall best all round newspaper and winner of the Norske Skog Award at the New Zealand Community Newspapers Association annual conference in Auckland, April 1. The three-times a week broad sheet, with a circu- lation of 8,409, won the same two awards last year. Other Best All Round Inde- pendent Newspaper finalists this year were the Howick and Pa- kuranga Times (circulation 20,000 and over), the Waitomo News (circulation up to 7,500) and the Southern Rural Life (an associate newspaper). Results of the Independent Better Newspapers Competitions follow below (Category 1 = circu- lation 20,000 and over; Category 2 = circulation 7,500-20,000;and Category 3 = circulation up to 7,500). Best Advertising Feature or Supplement: Category 1, Rodney Times. Category 2, Whakatane Beacon. Category 3, Northland Age. Associate Newspaper, South- ern Rural Life. Overall Winner, Rodney Times. Best Individual Advertising Portfolio: Category 1, Rodney Times. Category 2, Mountain Scene. Category 3, Wairoa Star. Associate Newspaper, Southern Rural Life. Overall Winner, Moun- tain Scene. Community Involvement: Category 1, The Star. Category 2, Devonport Flagstaff. Category 3, Waitomo News. Overall Winner, The Star. Best Front Page: Category 1, The Aucklander. Category 2, Whakatane Beacon. Category 3, Opotiki News. Associate Newspa- per, Courier Country. OverallWin- ner, The Aucklander. Young Photographer of the Year, overall winner, Ben Fein- baum, Opotiki News. Best Photographer, overall win- ner, Lisa Castle-Tauroa, Whaka- tane Beacon/Bay Weekend. Senior Sports Journalist, overall winner, Chris Tobin,Wanaka Sun. Junior Sports Journalist, overall winner, Anaru August, Whaka- tane Beacon. Young Journalist of the Year, overall winner, Holly Reid, Moun- tain Scene. Best Journalist, overall winner, Vanessa Bellew, The Aucklander. Best Sub-Editing, overall win- ner, Garry Ferris, Mountain Scene. Whakatane beacon wins top prize How does the Whakatane Beacon manage to win the New Zealand Community Newspa- pers Association top prizes for two years running? Editor Mark Dawson explained to the PANPA Bulletin what he describes as three foundation stones for such success. > Bold eye-catching design > Going for hard news to mix with community news > Engaging directly with the readers. "I revamped the look of the Beacon," said Dawson, "produc- ing clear design guidelines for the sub-editors which sharpened the pages and added to the impact of the news. Page one pictures went up in size as did the lead headline and a new index added visual appeal and 'oomph.' The Beacon also got its first ever style guide for reporters and subs. "We beefed up the news coverage, going bigger on the big stories, for example, taking the whole of a broadsheet page one with a [story about] flood devastation that hit the coastal town of Matata. "As well as looking for hard news stories, we also tackled social issues (mental illness as a page one lead; the plight of pensioners) and started do- ing news backgrounders and in-depth reports on key issues (toxic dumps, local government amalgamation)." Every attempt was made to let readers know that the Beacon was a platform for them to air their views and concerns. The newspaper has been swamped with letters to the editor. Sign- posting of content was improved as part of making the newspaper more user-friendly. Dawson also listed the launch- ing of campaigns, such as saving rescue helicopter service funding and lending weight to causes like a cancer treatment centre, and Maori Language Week which in- cluded printing the newspaper's datelines, page numbers and other parts in te reo Maori. There has been a conscious effort to at- tract Maori among new readers. "Our patch," said Dawson, "the Eastern Bay of Plenty, has a 50 percent Maori population and they are becoming increasingly empowered and economically important. They fill far too much of the court page and it was important to balance that with plenty of positive coverage." Warren Page reports on the results from the new Zealand Community newspapers association’s annual Conference. How do they do it? Three foundation stones for success: bold eye-catching design, going for hard news to mix with community news and engaging directly with the readers. Mark Dawson believes revamping the Whakatane beacon and appealing to readers is part of the paper’s formula for success. Warren Page looks at the secrets behind the success of the Whakatane Beacon.