Best Community Content
It has been a formidable task to read and judge nineteen community newsletters/newspapers submitted from all around Victoria. My initial and overall impression was one of admiration and total respect for all of the volunteers who tirelessly present their community news to their readers in such a positive and constructive way each week or month of the year. Every one of the newsletters submitted was worthy of praise and acclaim and that made my assessment and judgement all the more difficult.
Another noticeable consideration was that one or two newsletters were available only by a subscription or a payment at the point of sale. Financed this way, these particular newsletters were able to be published and presented in a more luxurious and colourful style than others. Nothing in my judging specification precluded this style of presentation so this factor did not influence my decision-making as a reader of community newspapers.
Winner- Great Gisborne Gazette
My assignment was to judge the nineteen newspapers for ‘Best Community Content’ and I have chose GREAT Gisborne Gazette for that honour. Why? You ask.
The Gazette is presented in a very warm and friendly manner; it is physically easy to read, there are no strict column layout boundaries and its forty pages are packed full of Community news and Community activities from across the region. What really made GREAT Gisborne Gazette shine above the other newsletters for me was that almost all of the reports and happenings in the Community are submitted and signed off by Community members. This generates a distinct warmth and community inter-friendliness that other publications somewhat lack. The editor’s ability to achieve this feature is to be highly commended.
Finalist – Waranga News
It is impeccably presented with wonderful photographs and some excellent news from around its many towns and communities. Although it didn’t affect my judgement for ‘Best Community Content’, I experienced difficulty, whilst reading, in handling these thicker pages that had no binding; it wasn’t easy to stop the pages from falling out.
Finalist – Churchill & District News
It is a wonderful newspaper style newsletter for their widespread and obviously happy community. This publication contained lots of local stories and, in this edition, messages of remembrance and love for ANZAC Day celebrations around the district were sincerely presented. Yet again, although it didn’t affect my judgement, six columns wide to the page, with a small font to boot, is not really easy reading.
Best editorial comment
Winner: Winchelsea Star
Managing Fire – The Traditional Way
In this editorial the author has taken a subject of interest to the community, applied research to extend the information available and ensured it is relevant to the readership. It is well written and the author has applied careful attention to grammar and spelling.
Finalist: Buninyong & District Community News
Need for longer-term mayors and planners
An editorial that wasn’t afraid to be controversial; it was also well written with a commendable focus on spelling and grammar. The subject was well researched and argued, with supporting information.
Finalist: Ferntree Gully News
A new year – a new look
A well written editorial, that ties together various articles in this issue. Commendable.
Winner: Great Gisborne Gazette – “Colour Fun”
Photographer: Macedon Ranges Health
Sometimes the best thing a news photographer can do is step out of the way of the story and let the subject speak for itself. The photographer of “Colour Fun”, taken during the Macedon Ranges Health Colour Run & Walk, has done exactly that. The use of a tight and uncluttered composition directs us to a single radiant smile that tells the wider story of the whole event. The result is a simple but very vibrant and joyful image. It immediately grabs your attention and directs you to the story exactly as a good news photo should.
Finalist: Blackwood Times – “Local axeman legend Gary Matheson”
Photographer: Rob Leeson
This is a very clever photo: there is nothing in it that distracts from the story. By arranging the three essential elements (the timber, the man and his dog), by clearly putting his subject at ease and using a narrow depth of field to blur the background, the photographer has created an engaging character study that tells us everything we need to know about the subject.
Finalist: The Otway Light – “Apollo Bay Seafood Festival Finale”
Photographer: David Simmonds
Photographing community events very often presents the challenge of finding the single representative moment. In the chaos of a crowded dance at the Apollo Bay Seafood Festival the photographer has zeroed in on 94 year old Katherine dancing like a teenager. In a difficult and unavoidably cluttered environment it’s a well observed moment that captures a genuine and life affirming ‘joie de vivre’.
Best article by a person 18 years or younger
Winner: Warrandyte Diary
‘Bullants blast Jets in Grand Final victory’ by Amelia Drew
Judge’s comments: An excellent sports report and a very well structured article that engages the reader. As you read the story, you can feel the closeness of the game as well as the tension felt by the supporters of both teams. The big reveal was held up until the very end with the final score which saw a skinny one-point win to the Bulllants.
Finalist: Stratford Town Crier
‘Bullying stops here’ by Ella-Rose
Judge’s comments: An important article that addresses the issue of cyber bullying. It contained valuable tips to limit cyber bullying and information on where to go for help. Well researched and highly engaging, this article contains a strong voice.
Finalist: Harcourt News
‘Christmas rush getting to you? Try Hygge (pronounced hue-gah)’ by Scarlet Berger
Judge’s comments: Another well researched article about doing simple things that can bring you happiness. Well written, interesting and informative.
Best layout and design
Winner: Buninyong & District News
Buninyong & District’s news is an ‘easy on the eye’ ‘easy to read’ newsletter. The white matt paper choice is crisp and clean. The use of bold headings, simple typeface, three column grid and lots of photos make this newsletter a pleasure to browse through.
Finalist: Stratford Town Crier
Stratford Town Crier is a nostalgic take on a newsletter. Entirely appropriate in today’s age of digital news to honour the past and have some fun to draw readers (especially the youth) in to the newspaper ‘retro’ format. The scrolls as heading and calligraphy style first letters, and script type on the front page are a little difficult to read but present an idea of ‘news’ with a playful historic story in its own right.
Finalist: GREAT Gisborne Gazette
Gisborne has produced a strong gazette that has cleverly presented their cover looking like a magazine with the internal pages like a newsletter. The strong use of green on the cover design and large type for the masthead makes this gazette instantly appealing. It has a no fuss, modern look with good use of big type headings making it easy to find many interesting articles to read.
Best History Story
Winner – Stratford Town Crier
The Stratford upon Avon elephant story by Gavan Donoghue
I just can’t go past this elephant story – great research, well written and an interesting topic. It’s got it all – urban myth (or is that rural myth?) folklore, mystery – it’s all there. The author says he’s going to write a book on the topic and I can’t wait to read it!
Finalist: Village Bell
A school rediscovered by Marianne Rocke
A diligently researched study of the first two schools in Upper Beaconsfield. It is a text book example of the interesting and imaginative use that can be made of the rich, but sometimes very dry information contained in the school correspondence and building files from the Public Records Office of Victoria.
Finalist: Creswick District News
Dr Robert Charles William Alexander Lindsay
Great family history story about a local doctor, Robert Lindsay, and his wife Jane Williams. The couple had ten children and, even though they were raised in the small country town of Creswick, their parents obviously encouraged them to pursue their artistic side as six of them became involved in the arts including Norman the author of ‘The Magic Pudding’ and Daryl who was the Director of the National Galley Victoria and the husband of Joan Lindsay, author of ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’. Dr Lindsay was a skilled and caring doctor to the local community, in between signing on as a ship’s doctor and sailing off! This is an interesting and well written family story.
Best Sports Reporting
It was once again a tough job choosing a winner and two finalists. All publications have again done a fantastic job covering local sport. Sporting clubs are often the heart of small local communities and therefore capturing the highs and lows and personal tales and triumphs of the people that make them tick is essential for any community newspaper. I was delighted to see such a widespread focus on women’s football shine through this year. This sport is obviously taking off from the grass roots right up to the more widely publicised AFL level!
Winner: Buninyong and District Community News
‘Jacko Beats Tough Times’
I loved this article about a local stalwart who continued to work hard for his club despite his own adversity. A fine example of capturing community spirit.
Finalist: Signpost Community Magazine
‘Hair-ties and Footy Boots’
This was a fun read about a great new local side. You really get a sense of the enjoyment the players have gained from the experience. Great pics to boot!
Finalist: GREAT Gisborne Gazette
‘New heights for local futsallers’
Terrific to see a focus on young sportspeople in a fast developing sport. Great pic and layout and a short, sharp and punchy read.
Best Feature Story
Winner: Signpost Community Magazine
‘Refugee Week 2017 – Escaping Aleppo’ – by Nicole Lane
This is an excellent feature article about the displacement of thousands of people in the Syrian city of Aleppo when war began in 2011. The writer was one of those people forced to flee and she injects a fiercely personal perspective into the article. Captivating, topical and beautifully written, the article is well supported by a strong photograph depicting the devastating impact of war on the city.
Finalist: Warrandyte Diary
‘In search of George Orwell’s Lost Motorbike’ by Jock MacNeish
A superb read about the writer and two of his brothers valiant search for author George Orwell’s Rudge 500 motorbike on the Scottish Isle of Jura, where Orwell wrote ‘1984’. The article holds the reader from the first paragraph to the last and it features a down-to-earth voice and a beaut sense of humour. Well written, interesting and entertaining.
Finalist: Buninyong District and Community News
This is essentially a pictorial feature with a strong focus on the local community. It tells of the celebration of the restored World War I Avenue of Honour in the township of Buninyong. The accompanying report is factual, objective and well written. The photography and layout are to be commended.
Winner: Warrandyte Diary
- Excellent front page pic and design. Alive. I was drawn to it and wanted to know more. Great energy.
- Outstanding, eye-catching cartoon on Pg 2 about fears that local homes may be compulsory acquired by the government. Skilled use of the cartoon format shows a sophisticated, confident relationship with readers.
- Outstanding coverage of important local issues; plans for the North East Link tollway and a bridge widening project, the latter not just about traffic issues but bushfire evacuation. I love that the paper has given so much space to these issues. Comprehensive, detailed, balanced, well-written articles. Many people and groups given a say. Excellent use of easy-to-understand graphics and diagrams. This is outstanding reporting for the community. Politicians, authorities, corporations and environment groups will know that The Diary has a magnifying glass on these issues. Excellent work.
- Clean layout and design makes it easy to read the articles and take in each page.
- Extraordinary depth and breadth of local issues and topics in the paper; crime, arts, entertainment, leisure, environment, gardening, health, finance, education, travel. There was even space for a lovely poem, A Warrandyte Kid.
- Ads well designed and laid out. Attractive but not intrusive. Good use of colour.
- Outstanding double-page colour spread in the middle of the paper on local wildlife, giving local photographers a platform for their work and showing readers a close-up view of their local natural world. I loved the thought and effort that went into this.
- A full page given to 97-year-old returned soldier Arthur Watson’s account of his time during WW2. Moving, riveting, powerful.
- Good coverage of sport. Plenty of pics, which is good to see.
- A bolder use of headlines and a letters page may enhance even more, but this paper is punching well above its weight.
- Outstanding, balanced, comprehensive reporting for the community.
Finalist: Gisborne Gazette
- Good use of front page pic.
- Comprehensive showcase of local people, activities, events and issues.
- Packed with news.
- Attractive, fresh layout. Good use of colour, Easy and enjoyable to read.
- Excellent local history page.
- A paper focussed on local people and what they’re doing.
- Strong positive vibe leaves you feeling good.
- Attractive, appealing, interesting.
Finalist: Ferntree Gully News
- Good front page pic and layout.
- Clean, attractive design.
- Magazine-style layout enhances the personal, friendly feel.
- Good use of photos and colour.
- Personal and friendly, I felt part of this community.
- Dedicated pages for community news, scouts, CFA, sport, environment, schools, arts, churches, the library, U3A and What’s On.
- Sponsored pages shows it has strong community partnerships and buy-in.