The Sentinel-Times’ journalism staff, including, from left, James Brosnan, Nathan Johnston editor, Danika Dent, Ash’lee Charlton and Gavin Ross were delighted with the newspapers’ success at the annual Victorian Country Press Association awards last Friday night where they won the State journalism award.

YOUR local newspaper, the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times, has come away from the industry’s annual awards night, last Friday, November 16, as one of the main winners. Not only did the paper win the top award for ‘Journalism’, in the hotly contested 3000 to 10,000 circulation section, it was runner-up to perennial winner, The Spectator at Hamilton, in the Goss International ‘Overall Newspaper Excellence’ award. The ‘Sentinel-Times’ editor, Nathan Johnston, was delighted with the recognition. “It’s nice to know that some independent judges think we’re going in right direction,” Mr Johnston said. “Our aim is to produce an excellent community newspaper, not only praising individuals and groups for their achievements but also highlighting the situation when something is lacking. “And we couldn’t do that without feedback from our readers which we warmly encourage.” Here’s what the judge of the Journalism section, Dr Mandy Oakham, a senior lecturer in Journalism at RMIT had to say: “The South Gippsland Sentinel –Times – A very worthy winner in this category with its extensive and in-depth local reporting with particular mention to Gavin Ross and his consistent breaking of the big local stories ranging from a dramatic rescue by a one-armed local hero, to coal mining expansion and child pornography. Ross is clearly a vigilant watcher of his own community. “As well as its very obvious efforts in news coverage, this newspaper is also a standout in its obvious community engagement as evidenced in the size of its letters to the editor pages and voice of the people column – an impressive winner on so many fronts. Regular winner, The Pakenham Gazette was runners-up, with the Riverine Herald at Echuca, the Wimmera Mail-Times at Horsham, and the Wangaratta Chronicle highly commended.

Overall excellence The Sentinel-Times was also runners-up in the Goss International Overall Newspaper Excellence award, a section last won by the paper back in 2008. It acknowledges all aspects of production from picture and news quality to printing and advertising standards. Here’s what judge John Jennison had to say: “All newspapers in this category are of a pleasing standard and do the industry proud in their endeavours to serve the communities they publish in. This in turn makes it difficult to single out one newspaper as the best, but that is a good omen. The judging process narrowed the field down to six very fine newspapers, all of an exemplary standard in every aspect: namely The Bairnsdale Advertiser, Hamilton Spectator, Mansfield Courier, Pakenham Gazette, Riverine Herald, and South Gippsland Sentinel Times. Specifically, he said the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times was a “very strong contender for the winner’s cup but was perhaps let down by lack of colour and long stories that give a very “text” look to pages, particularly in the early news pages. “However there is an amazing number of columns featuring an excellent local coverage of people and events. Obviously giving readers what they want – a worthy newspaper. “Advertising is very strong with the many special topic pages in the second half of the book. These provide lots of reading and are followed up with a very full and comprehensive sport section. “The Sentinel-Times was a joy to judge.” Other local newspapers to feature in the awards included the Yarram Standard, which won the Journalism award for the under 3000 circulation section and the Great Southern Star which won the Local Reporting award for its extensive coverage of the Leongatha Secondary College centenary.