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Dyson at Large: Testing award winner’s everyday quality

The image that transfixed me at the Regional Press Awards was the Dundee Evening Telegraph’s front page, depicting a miserable scene of unconscious drug addicts.


The powerful ‘BEYOND BELIEF’ pictorial splash from 28 August 2014 deservedly scooped the Front Page of the Year trophy, but it also made me wonder how the Telegraph performs on an ‘average’ news day.

So I tested the daily by buying it on the same day as the awards and am happy to reveal that its thoughtful mixture of hard, surprising and celebrity news, together with a stylish picture, produced sound page one quality.

‘DRIVING MENACE JAILED… AGED 78’ was the splash with an unusual twist on Friday 15 May 2015, the full page seven story telling how pensioner Richard Robertson got a six-month sentence for the latest in a ‘significant record’ of driving offences.

‘View star in rehab’ was the boost to a hard news celebrity story on page three about Kyle Falconer, the frontman in Dundee band The View, reportedly battling drug and alcohol addiction at a Thai rehabilitation centre.

And editor Richard Prest’s team then used a nicely-shaped picture from the Ladies’ Day at Perth Races to lift the front page, highlighting a positive eight-page pull-out inside.

Dundee Telegraph

As well as the decent stories and picture, the ‘Evening Telegraph’ masthead was strong in black and red on page one, with what seemed to be a regular-sized strip advert that made a useful shape for designers.

A convincing mix of hard, human-interest and community news then continued throughout the paper’s inside news pages, including:

  • ‘Teen left victim with broken jaw’, leading page two;
  • ‘Our baby’s heart kept stopping… we feel so lucky to be able to hold him’, spread across pages four and five;
  • ‘Thug robbed man in city centre lane’, leading page six;
  • ‘Concerns raised over planned park-and-rides’, leading page nine;
  • ‘Worker sues over crushed leg injury’, leading page ten; and
  • ‘Care home probe sees employee dismissed’, leading page 15.

There were around 150 stories on 33 editorial pages in the main 36-page book, plus a 12-page ‘Weekend’ section packed with TV listings, film reviews and travel, and then the Ladies’ Day pull-out containing 36 colourful pictures.

That’s not bad for a cover price of 50p, a sentiment that seems to be shared by most readers: while many dailies face heavy double-digit declines, this title sold 18,714 copies a day in the second half of 2014, down -8pc on 2013.

And ABC records show the DC Thomson-owned title’s longer-term decline was even healthier – if any decline can be described as such – with sales of 25,545 copies a day in the second half of 2004, when the paper was priced at 30p.

That’s a drop of just 27% over ten years, despite a 67% increase in cover price – and this during a decade when Dundee’s population declined by around 4pc.

● Back to Friday’s awards, it was pleasing to see my old colleague Jon Griffin, business editor on the Birmingham Mail, winning Business and Finance Journalist of the Year – less than a month after Trinity Mirror withdrew his redundancy notice.

Jon’s comment was restrained but meaningful when he picked up his award on stage, despite having needlessly been put through the mill in recent months: “I hope this shows there’s still plenty of market out there for what I would call ‘content that counts’.”

As the judges said, Jon’s a “brilliant all-rounder”, and he deserves to continue in his role for as long as he wants to.