THE Border Watch remains in the upper echelon of rural newspapers as it brought home the gold in the annual Country Press Association of South Australia awards on Friday night.
For the first time since 2013, the major best newspaper circulation over 4000 was awarded to the Mount Gambier-based paper.
The win was announced at the Vine Inn at Nuriootpa on Friday night at a gala ceremony, including around a dozen high-ranking politicians.
In selecting The Border Watch as first place, judge Joe Italiano said the four-days-a-week newspaper “shaded major rivals in most of the judging categories, particularly in editorial and photographic content and typography”.
“The paper uses colour well, providing well-designed front-page pointers, along with at least one or two news stories to complement good front page photographs in the 16 editions submitted for judging,” Mr Italiano said.
The powerful Code Black page one was awarded best front page, with judges praising the “stunning” design concept.
Previously untried by the newspaper, the front page was described as playing a key role in highlighting legitimate safety concerns at Mount Gambier Hospital.
In the best tradition of inter-department newspaper teamwork, the sub-editing team and print staff collaborated to ensure the highest quality outcome in the final print to achieve a deep and full finish to the black ink for the Code Black edition.
“Three weeks after The Border Watch Code Black edition a metropolitan newspaper used a similar style and design to highlight a key issue thus maintaining the very high standards consistently set across many years by The Border Watch,” Mr Italiano said.
In other categories, cadet journalist James Murphy was awarded second place for his well-timed football photograph filled with a mix of expressions.
Judge Sean McGowan commended Mr Murphy’s composition of a high-flying marking contest, saying it “creates a lingering dwell factor with its long line of players leading in and up to the man marking the ball”.
The Border Watch was awarded bronze for best advertisement, while Todd Lewis received third place in the Excellence in Journalism category for his well-researched Operation Addenine articles on uncovering one of the largest ice distribution networks in the South East.
The night was also a time of success for another of The Border Watch Newsgroup’s mastheads.
The South Eastern Times at Millicent won the best newspaper with circulations under 4000.
In addition, three journalists at The South Eastern Times also won individual prizes.
Brooke Littlewood was named young journalist of the year, while Raquel Mustillo and J.L. “Fred” Smith shared the best editorial writing category.
Ms Mustillo also scored a high commendation in the Excellence in Journalism category for her coverage of shopping hours in Millicent.
The Border Watch Newsgroup general manager Dennis Jackson praised staff for the success, which he said was the result of high standards from the front counter right through to the printing and inserting team.
“I am excited for everyone as the team has worked extremely hard over the last 12 months pushing the boundaries and developing products across all platforms,” he said.
“To win best paper is well deserved and a credit not just to the TBW Newsgroup team, but also our readers and businesses across the Limestone Coast and Western Victoria.
“Without the support from our readers and the businesses we deal with, this would not be achievable.”
The Border Watch editor Brett Kennedy said it was a deserved result for the dedicated team of local staff.
“To be named best newspaper is a reflection of the high standards and skill sets the newsgroup possesses across all aspects of the business,” Mr Kennedy said.
“A common theme among award winners was the beneficial impact their work had on their respective communities,” he said.
“Our newspaper will continually strive to not only be a trusted source of news across the Limestone Coast, but also provide a voice for our community which can impact real change for residents.”