What turns a paper like the Exeter Express and Echo into a winner?
With a circulation below 30,000 it has beaten the ‘big guns’ in its region to be named BT South West Daily Newspaper of the Year.
We talk to editor Steve Hall about campaigns, challenges and the future.
“Health, education, family and leisure – that’s what the Express and Echo is all about and we have a team here which will report these issues to a high standard, interesting and entertaining the public along the way.”
These are the words of Steve Hall, editor of the Exeter Express and Echo, the newly-crowned BT Daily Newspaper of the Year for the South West.
Last year the foot-and-mouth crisis presented the region with one of its biggest challenges to date, temporarily bringing agriculture and tourism to its knees.
But with the emphatic character of the local people and the support of the Echo the region fought back.
It was the Echo’s long-running campaigns during this period which secured the award, according to Steve.
He said: “The one aspect above all which put us higher than the rest was our campaigning journalism.
“We were the paper that broke the Phoenix the calf story which went a long way to saving its life.
“Although it was only one saved from thousands which were culled, Phoenix became a symbol of the region’s fight and caught the imagination of the nation.”
Steve also cites the whole crisis as a defining period for the newspaper It had its own website and helped raise thousands of pounds for local farmers.
The paper also helped discard the view that the region’s tourism industry was closed for business.
Steve said: “Our Open for Business campaign also did really well and was something the BT judges picked out.
“Every day we printed lists of attractions which were staying open throughout the crisis as we were determined to do out bit as the local newspaper.”
The judges were indeed impressed, saying: “The Express and Echo is totally in tune with its readers.
“This was never more clearly demonstrated than throughout the foot and mouth crisis when it not only provided comprehensive news and information, but also helped to lead the fight back against the worst effects of the disaster… and when it highlighted the plight of Phoenix the calf on its front page, even the Prime Minister was forced to react.”