Gary Cullum says 2016 is the year when we hold up our heads with pride in our platform and in our product

NEVER before since the launch of the Newspaper Awards back in 1997 have we had such a magnificent early response following the announcement of the call for entries.

The first entry for the 20th annual event – newsawards 2016 – arrived in November and had a lonely existence until a week before Christmas when a Santa sackful came through the door on postie’s shoulders.

Now we are all back at our desks at the start of a new year of opportunity, I can issue a timely reminder for those of you who have yet to enter:

The first PJ printed edition of the new year contains an entry form booklet detailing all the awards, all the criteria, all the sponsors who ensure these awards happen every spring, and the address to send your entry by 5 February – the closing date for receipt of submissions.

There are further details about the awards and how to enter on page 3 of January PJ.  And a visit to  will let you know the type of entry that proved popular with judges in each category last year.

The awards celebrate the very best in news media print, technology and business innovation across all platforms where our industry’s future remains. That’s world-leading quality sustainable journalism across digital and newsprint brand assets.

The annual celebration, with a black tie gala dinner to be held at the Lancaster Hotel opposite London’s Hyde Park on 27 April, is our chance to showcase the best of the best – and especially those that continue to invest heavily to innovate, to inspire and to produce the world’s best in class printed newspapers and digital media assets.

Freedom to publish

With production excellence taken as read, content remains king of course.

And we have to question the point of leading the way in production technique if we don’t have freedom to publish, nor freedom to access information that holds governments, big corporates and the residents of every city, town and village to account over wrongdoing.

As is reported in printed PJ January issue, few pieces of legislation have been as effective and a powerful incentive for public bodies to improve performance and reduce wastefulness as the Freedom of Information Act.

FOI puts authorities under pressure to address waste and pre-empt it in future. Indeed the news media industry, via the News Media Association, has called for FOI’s remit to be extended.

As John Witherow, editor of The Times told Press Gazette recently, investment in journalism is key to The Times’ success.

“People will only pay for subscriptions if you have quality,” he said.“You shoot yourself in the foot by cutting back on journalism, because they won’t subscribe and then our whole model falls apart.”

Evolving skillsets

Indeed, the National Council for the Training of Journalists is currently reviewing journalist training with a revamp of its diploma course in a bid to make it more inclusive and more in keeping with today’s various strands of journalism. So, reporters on the Oxdown Gazette will not only continue to need a sound working knowledge of shorthand and public administration in the future, they will also need a clear grip on the evolving role of a quality and trusted journalist.

(As a former NCTJ student at Harlow Technical College 1978-1981, I will always have happy memories of working on the ‘Oxdown’ patch. If ever you studied on an NCTJ course, you will know what I mean…).

The NCTJ diploma is being opened to keep pace with technological trends and produce skillsets for a multimedia, multiplatformed future in news publishing.In terms of our fast-moving technology, new young and vibrant businesses are springing up with a publishing solution.

Indeed, in PJ this month,  we focus on some of those new or previously unknown businesses to debut at last October’s World Publishing Expo. Industry has built the multimedia platforms for its future success and there is no room in 2016 for frustratingly ultra slow and cumbersome websites nor lazy journalism.

Over the past decade, the toughest and most challenging period ever for newspapers, we have lost many fine men and women from our ranks.

Now, more than ever before is the time to invest in people as we adapt to changing business models and learn to run our businesses on smaller revenues.

Profit is vital for the ability to invest in world-beating technologies but 2016 is the year to show that we are not just about profit. It is a year when British journalists can hold their heads up high with pride, with pride in their product and pride in the platforms on which such publications are published.