Tim Blagg

Award sweetens long siege

Recorder reward: Newspaper of the Year

Late last week, I drove over to Natick to pick up an award.

It was a very, very nice trip.

The New England Newspaper and Press Association, a group that represents most of the daily and weekly newspapers in the region, had awarded The Recorder the title of Newspaper of the Year.

It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Newspaper of the Year.

That means that of all of the small daily newspapers published across the seven states of New England this year, The Recorder was judged to be the best ... in news content, layout, photographs, ads ... every facet of what makes a daily newspaper.

I’ve been working here for more than 25 years and, although we’ve come close several times to winning this award, we’ve never “been kissed.”

So pardon me if I gloat a bit.

You see, I know how good The Recorder is. After all, I’ve been working in newspapers since the 1960s, at small papers and big ones, at everything from reporter to Editor, and I study newspapers the way some study people study the rich and famous or designer fashions.

Traveling across the country, I’m usually struck by how much better newspapers are here in New England than in other parts of the nation. Most people who live here don’t take the time to notice that, but believe me, it’s a legitimate observation.

Papers here continue to uphold the best traditions of the business ... telling the truth, as near as they can determine it, no matter whose ox it gores. We have lively editorial pages, with plenty of local input, very good photography, and excellent writing.

We are supported by publishers and owners who continue to insist on quality even when economic common sense ought to dictate that they pull in their horns.

I often tell candidates for jobs here that we have “delusions of grandeur,” in that we strive for goals that would choke newspapers many times our size.

But these are also hard times in my business. Despite the fact that almost every piece of information that poses as “news” on the Internet comes, usually un-attributed, from newspapers or their wire services, “everyone knows” that newspapers are dead.

So it’s particularly nice to find out my peers in the business think we did a particularly good job this year.

In addition to that, we have been going through a particularly difficult time lately, converting our production system to a totally new “Cloud-based” version. That means my colleagues and I have been basically rebuilding every single aspect of The Recorder, from Page 1 banner to filler ads, from scratch in new typefaces, using new computers running new software.

It’s been an incredible grind, requiring countless hours of tedious labor. I’ll fill you in later, in another column, on the details.

So the award comes at a very good time for everyone here.

If you run into someone from the paper, please take the time to congratulate them.

That will just be the frosting on the cake.

Blagg has been Editor of The Recorder since 1986. He lives in Greenfield and is a military historian with an interest in local history. He can be reached at: tblagg@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 250.

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