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Newspaper's online user-generated content trial wins a top award for innovation

Your Mail, a pioneering website for user-generated content launched by the Hull Daily Mail, has claimed a prestigious industry award.

It was named winner in the Best Use of New Media category in the 2008 Newspaper Awards, run by Production Journal.

Two other nominations which were runners-up in the same category were The Bubble creative design studio (highly commended) and a recruitment campaign by the Herald Express, Torquay (commended) – both sister Northcliffe Media companies. Also on the shortlist was Telegraph TV by the Daily Telegraph.

The Birmingham Post was named Regional Newspaper of the Year with MK News scooping the title for weeklies.

It is the only industry contest dedicated to newspaper and news media production.

The awards were presented last night at the London Hilton in Park Lane at an event attended by representatives of a host of leading national and regional publishers.

Mail assistant editor Alex Leys, who has led the Your Mail project, collected the prize.

The award is a significant achievement as Your Mail was launched less than three months ago.

The judges hailed Your Mail as an innovative community site which had the potential to really take off. They said it was a good blueprint for members of the public to communicate through their local newspaper company.

Your Mail was launched on January 30, and billed as the place for community conversation in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. The site has quickly exceeded targets, attracting 1,000 registered users, more than 50,000 visits, 280,000 page views and over 2,000 user-generated posts since its launch.

Your Mail allows users freedom to post what they want, when they want. When the earthquake struck on February 27 users posted comments within minutes and the conversation continued throughout the night. Users can share ultra-local news in Your Patch, manage their own groups in All Yours or create Your Family pages.

John Meehan, editor of the Hull Daily Mail and Mail News & Media, said: “Your Mail is a trial exploring the potential for UGC publishing for Northcliffe Media. Without Northcliffe’s support and investment it would not have been possible.

“We must now continue to focus on building upon the potential that Your Mail offers. The site has had an encouraging start. It has just passed the landmark of 1,000 registered users and has established itself as a mature and responsible forum for people to communicate with others on issues of their choice. The levels of interaction have been particularly impressive, with more than 1,000 UGC posts and replies in March.

“The major challenges now are to build a larger, engaged audience and to grow the traffic on the site, while also generating revenues from this new form of publishing.”

The judges said the number and quality of entries in the category was high, reflecting the “considerable activity in the industry as it moves to integrated multi-platform operations”.

Regional newspaper success included:

Regional Newspaper of the Year (weekdays)
Winner – Birmingham Post
Highly Commended – Irish News
Commended – Press & Journal (Aberdeen)

Weekly Newspaper of the Year
Winner – MK News
Highly commended – Slough & Langley Observer
Commended – The Irish Post

Environmental Newspaper Company of the Year
Winner – Trinity Mirror Printing (Newcastle) – Go Green campaign and ncjMedia Green team
Highly Commended – Express & Echo (Exeter) – Green shoppers campaign
Commended – Sheffield Web (Dinnington) – Environmental initiatives

Newspaper Printer of the Year
Winner – Trinity Mirror Printing Midlands (The Birmingham Post)
Highly Commended – Harmsworth Printing Derby (Slough & Langley Observer)
Commended – Surrey & Berkshire Media (Woking News & Mail)

Most Outstanding Use of Colour
Winner – The Herald (Newsquest Printing Glasgow)
Highly Commended – The Daily Telegraph (Newsquest Printing Oxford)
Commended – The Observer (Guardian Print Centre)

Regional Colour Supplement of the Year
Winner – Oxfordshire Limited Edition (The Oxford Times)
Highly commended – Spectrum (Scotland on Sunday)
Joint Commended – Out & About (Newbury Weekly News), West Country Life (Western Daily Press)