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Entrants could do better say EDF awards judges

The judges’ high praise for yesterday’s winners and shortlisted candidates in the EDF Energy London and South of England Media Awards was mixed with strong words for some of the entries that failed to make the cut.

Our panel hit out at feature-writers and columnists for writing too much about themselves and the weather, while some entrants in the weekly print journalist of the year category were chided for submitting material that had not even been good enough to make their own paper’s front page.

In addition, as previously announced, it was decided not to award a prize in the Front Page of the Year category due to entries not meeting the required standard.

Here’s a selection of the judges’ comments which were read out during yesterday’s presentation ceremony.

  • News photographer of the year. The judges said some entries “lacked presentation and context,” while there was a lack of hard news shots from some entrants.

    “There were some great single photos but the strength across all five shots was not always there – and that’s what you need to make the shortlist,” they said.

  • Sports journalist of the year. There were just 13 entries for this category and they were all from men. The judges felt that sport will only develop as part of the full package of a newspaper experience when we get more women into sports journalism. “Editors take note,” they added.

  • Feature writer of the year. The judges said next year’s entrants in this category should try to avoid talking about themslves so much. “Readers don’t want to always know about how the writer feels about every issue,” they said.

    The judges said “a fair few” entrants hadn’t mastered the difference between features and news and hadn’t learnt to hook the reader in to the words.

  • Columnist of the year. The judges said some of those that failed to make the shortlist were a bit “samey,” with writers “focusing on themselves, a national news slant or the weather.”

  • Weekly print journalist of the year. The judges reserved some of their strongest words for this categorty. One judge said of one entrant that he “didn’t know why they’d wasted their Pritt Stick gluing together their stories!”

    Many entrants were let down by not having three strong pieces, with the judges stressing: “If it’s not good enough for that week’s front page, it’s unlikely to be award-winning material.”

    The judging panel comprised: Nigel Pickover, Society of Editors president and editor of Ipswich daily the Evening Star, Derby Telegraph editor Steve Hall, Gary Phelps, group editor of Northcliffe’s Central Independent Newspapers division, photojournalism lecturer Paul Delmar, former regional TV reporter and broadcaster Karen Ainley and James Barber, south-east external communications manager for award sponsors EDF Energy.


    JP Worker (23/10/2009 12:08:33)
    You mean you want quality too?! In a stripped-bare office the reporter turned tea boy/receptionist/sub/copy taker/inputter is expected to write something decent too? Highly fanciable – get into a 2009 newsroom and see what it’s like for yourself maybe?

    PF (26/10/2009 17:22:27)
    JP Worker has hit the nail on the head. Young reporters don’t have time nowadays to compile clippings and submit entry forms on the off-chance of scooping a prize in some competition – they’re all too busy working balls-to-the-wall and trying to keep their jobs by churning out just the sort of half-baked stories this panel so loathes! There is simply NO TIME these days at local level for proper investigative reporting, contact building and story development, and I say this as a sub, not a reporter. At the paid-for daily regional newspaper where I worked until a few months ago, reporters were typically given a number of wordcounts at the start of the day, a pile of press releases, and told to make the two match. Quality control wasn’t just secondary, it was non-existent. This is the reality of modern day news reporting. Pity. But we industryites, like this panel, had better get used to that fact.

    Carl (04/11/2009 14:51:32)
    seeing as you (HTFP) don’t appear to trust me:
    Anyone up for an EDF award, I’d suggest you don’t follow the link…