I love an awards ceremony.
There’s no more uplifting place to be than a table full of slightly squiffy colleagues with a couple of industry accolades under their collective belts.
They’re great occasions for catching up with old friends – and for celebrating the very best of journalism.
So the decision by some editorial staff at the Leicester Mercury to ask the organisers of the Newsawards to effectively scrap their entries could be viewed as an odd one.
Why deny themselves the pleasure – and the break from routine – of a trip to London, a decent meal and a few drinks? Particularly, if as happened at last year’s Regional Press Awards, there’s a fire scare which offers the chance for witty social media posts – and more drinks.
But I think the whole point of the Mercury NUJ chapel’s protest is that they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. The sacrifice is what makes it all the more powerful.
Union member have asked the organisers to withdraw the title’s nomination for regional daily newspaper of the year – a category it won last year.
The move is in reaction to a decision to follow many other papers in the Trinity Mirror/Local World group by largely outsourcing photography.
And it is also clear that the chapel are disturbed by other changes which have begun to take effect, with more likely after cutbacks in the parent company’s operations in Devon have signalled the shape of things to come.
It is a very sad day when journalists stop feeling pride in their work and in their products.
One of the low points of my previous job was a conversation with a very talented reporter who said she struggled to find anything to be proud of in several months of work, having won an award the previous year.
She left the industry briefly, but I’m delighted that she’s now back in the fold.
I’m writing this as I head home after a fascinating half-day conference looking at the future of Britain’s regional and local media.
My personal highpoint was being congratulated on asking a ‘great question’ – about whether more daily titles are likely to go weekly or free – by Johnson Press chief executive Ashley Highfield.
The old Paxman magic is clearly there.
But for all the optimism in the room at the Westminster Media Forum, it is clear that, at least for the four biggest regional newspaper companies, the future will be one of consolidation and contraction.
In other words, there will be fewer people to do more work, even if news gatherers are more protected than other journalists.
The Leicester Mercury is currently advertising for a new editor, after the departure for personal reasons of a decent man, Kevin Booth.
The ad lists a host of vital skills and priorities, but perhaps misses the most important.
Rebuilding trust, morale – and pride – should go straight in at number one.