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Digital chief selects regional press heroes of 2016

HiggersonA digital publishing chief has become the latest senior industry figure to name his regional press heroes from the past year.

David Higgerson, left, digital publishing director for Trinity Mirror Regionals, has hailed those “fighting to make a difference” in a post on his personal blog.

His list follows those of Steve Dyson and Alison Gow, whose nominations were both featured on HTFP before Christmas.

David’s list includes three daily editors who left their roles during 2016 – Nicola Furbisher of the Yorkshire Evening Post, Nigel Pickover of the Eastern Daily Press, and Neil White of the Derby Telegraph.

He said he had included “those fighting to make a difference within the industry through their own actions, attempting to inspire those around them, regardless of their role or seniority, at a time of great uncertainty”.

He added: “If you cut beyond the headlines and the punditry, there is a lot to celebrate despite the massive challenges the industry faces, challenges many in the industry are tackling head on.

“So it’s for that reason that I’ve come up with a list of the people or teams or brands I believe deserve acknowledgement for things done for the industry in 2016.

“Of course, it’s not exhaustive, there are people who I’ve bound to have missed out (sorry!), and I could just list all the great people I work with every day, but hopefully it paints a picture of some of the great things going on in the industry.”

Included in David’s list are:

* The CN Group, for the launch of the ill-fated 24 newspaper: “So many in our industry gave it no chance from the start, and there was far more debate on whether it covered the North (‘I couldn’t find it in Stanley’ etc etc) than there was about its quality. And those who read it will have found a good daily newspaper without an agenda, and which had the ability to prioritise news based on issues affecting the North.”

* Archant’s Matt Kelly, for the launch of pro-EU weekly The New European: “Meant just to last a few weeks, it’s now almost six months old and, having survived the first flush of Brexit anger, is now finding a place as kind on Spectator/New Statesman-on-newsprint title for those who have bonded around the concerns over Brexit. Isn’t regional journalism all about identifying communities and becoming part of them?”

* Mirror Media Ireland managing director Joanne McGreevy and editor-in-chief John Kierans for the launch of city news wbesite Dublin Live: “It is bringing a new voice to a competitive digital market, and in the process bringing regional news to an new audience. It’s a positive story I think deserves a bigger audience.”

* Nicola Furbisher.  “She leaves a superb paper in my opinion. Many city titles have struggled to strike the balance between reflecting the changing image of city against the more traditional expectations of core readers, and whenever I see the YEP (normally while changing trains at Leeds) I see a paper that is handling that challenge really well.”

* Nigel Pickover.  “[His farewell piece] was a brilliant read, and could (in my opinion) read as a manual for anyone who wants to be an editor about what’s important: Inspiring a team, becoming part of the community, working with other departments, being prepared to take a stand, and making sure you don’t just talk about ‘the newspaper’.”

* Neil White. “His work with the NCTJ, and dealing with the thorny but essential ‘what does the NCE need to examine to be relevant’ (aka the ‘Shorthand is Journalism’ debate) has been tireless, but he’s doing what a journalist should – asking difficult questions and proposing solutions. As a result, journalism, especially regional journalism should be better off.”

* Paul Bradshaw, who runs the MA Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism course at Birmingham City University: “Often challenging, but rarely wrong, Paul helps inspire those who listen to him or follow his blog, Twitter feed and increasing array of publications.”

* Andy Dickinson, from the University of Central Lancashire: “He’s clearly passionate about news, and strikes that rare balance of being able to tell us how it is while at the same time providing at least some of the answers on what we should be doing next.”

* The Hackney Citizen, for its battle with Hackney Council over its Hackney Today publication: “Founder Keith Magnum deserves the support of our whole industry to see off this PR-passing-off-as-journalism which fools no-one.”

* Wales Online, for its coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster: “Their coverage was not just a project undertaken because they should, but driven by a desire to provide those who witnessed the dreadful event with an opportunity to tell their story in new ways. It set a new standard for regional journalism, I believe.”

* The Liverpool Echo, for its work on the Hillsborough disaster inquests: “It was a powerful reminder of the importance of doing right by your readers, even when the establishment is against you. The Liverpool Echo was the only organisation to live blog every day of the Hillsborough Inquests, something campaigners have sought to praise, highlighting in particular the hard work of reporter Eleanor Barlow, who served as the Echo’s Hillsborough reporter.”