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Twenty years of celebration

Gary Cullum looks back on 20 years of newsawards and to a future of continued innovation, pioneering and resilience

Gary Cullum addresses more than 500 newpaper industry men, women, suppliers and guests at newsawards 2016 at the Lancaster London

TWENTY years ago I spoke at the very first Newspaper Awards of the industry’s awakening to the new digital world and the workflow strategies resulting from new computer to plate technologies. 

I spoke also of the hundreds of newspapers across the UK and Ireland that nurtured and sustained their readers and, by their existence, enriched us all. 

Twenty years on – as I spoke to 500 guests at this years newsawards – those words still ring loud and true.

At this year’s event I said how newspapers and news brands today – across all platforms of print, online, mobile and social media – reach out to international, national, regional and local communities in ways other media cannot hope to match.

Our unparalleled press educates and informs, probes and investigates and holds those in power to account. Every day we are reminded how fortunate we are to live and work in a society where a free press can operate.

Standing on the stage and speaking to fellow newspapermen and women, I outlined how the UK’s news media market is one of the strongest and most diverse in the world. We know that we have something special to offer because more people than ever are making our publications an essential part of their daily lives – around the clock and around the world.

I said: “We are privileged to be part of such a hallowed institution and honoured to carry the weight of our industry’s long and significant history in our hands. None of us taking part in this landmark 20th annual awards event take such a privilege lightly and we work tirelessly to ensure that our dynamic and fast-evolving press continues to meet the growing needs of readers hungry for news 24/7.“

And I’m sure each of us is in agreement with the recently-launched mission statement of the News Media Association, in which newspapers were described as ‘the powerhouse for news provision in the UK’.

“Our business invests two-thirds of the total spent on original news content and sets the political agenda and feeds other news outlets.“We do indeed hold those in power to account – the Panama Papers being just the latest example of news media setting the agenda, forcing change and keeping politicians on their toes.”

Looking back on the landmark newsawards night gives me further cause for reflection on how newspapers in all their formats have an informative and engaging connection with the reader. It is this connection that gives national and regional and local press, in print and online, a fundamental role in delivering advertisers a highly trusted and relevant environment, which drives real action. 

The ongoing debate about the power of print is gathering pace with leading media executives and commentators extolling the effectiveness of traditionally printed newspapers and magazines. 

The past 20 years of awards have seen our print brands applauded in their many formats. Looking back, our awards reflect a busy, tumultuous, sometimes tortuous but exciting and adventurous 20 years.

Our industry has championed and celebrated the very best in newspaper and news media print, technology and business innovation.

We have done our industry’s predecessors proud in cementing our news brands in the heart of society.

I applauded everyone at the awards for carrying the weight of our industry’s heritage with care, and for ensuring it remains vital and robust when we pass it to our successors. 

We will continue to face challenges but we are a resilient industry. We are innovating. We are pioneering, both in print and online. Our portfolio is greater than ever before and our audience is growing.

Long may that continue. 

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