The Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers Association (PANPA) is the industry body for newspapers in the Asia Pacific region.Â Chief among their jobs these days (apart from offering a shoulder to cry on for departing Fairfax employees) is to run the annual award process they call “Newspaper of the Year”.
You may have seen this award being trumpeted by various newspapers over the past few years. Melbourne’s own Herald Sun has won the award four times in the last six years.Â This year’s Newspaper of the Year awards will be announced in late August, but this week PANPA announced the (very long) list of finalists in the attached PDF.
It makes interesting reading.Â Apart from the obvious point that just about every newspaper you’ve ever heard of is a finalist, there is a remarkable omission from the major Newspaper of the Year award. Did you spot it?
That’s right. Where is The Age?Â The didn’t even make it as a finalist, despite the Sunday Age being the winner of last year’s Sunday Newspaper of the Year Award.
What happened? How bad could their entry have been that they didn’t even score a finalist guernsey and yet one of this year’s finalists is, wait for it, the Manly Daily (no offence to the fine News Limited publication but they certainly donâ€™t have the resources given to The Age)
Here at VEXNEWS, we’re loath to leave a stone unturned where there might be the chance of featuring a further, feeble, foolish Fairfax failure.Â And sure enough.
You’ll love this one.Â A single phone call was enough to uncover the most hilarious fail we’ve encountered this year.Â We’re still laughing so much we can barely type the words, but here goes…
Why didn’t The Age make the finals of the PANPA Newspaper of the Year awards?
Are you ready for this?Â Hold on.Â Brace yourself.
They.Â Forgot.Â To.Â Enter.
Don Churchill was clearly too busy on his Blackberry.Â Bryan McCarthy was too busy on his retirement plans.Â The rest of the management team were clearly too busy planning their exit strategies and ensuring the goldness of their parachutes.
The list even shows that entries were received from other parts of the Fairfax world, including The Age’s own marketing department who submitted entries in junior categories, but nothing from anyone higher up the food chain.
We’d love to receive an official comment from The Age’s if our source is wrong, but we don’t think it is and they tend not to respond to our reasonable queries, for some reason.Â We promise we’d publish it unedited. But we’re not holding our breath.Â Sometimes a story can be just too weird and hilarious to be anything but true.
We know with a high degree of confidence that no entry in the category of Newspaper of the Year was received from The Age at the office of PANPA.
We challenge our friends at Media House in Docklands to provide us with any credible response other than “Our bad.”
5PM UPDATE: To compound the sadness at The Age over failing to nominate itself in newspaper industry awards, the Roy Morgan newspaper readership stats have come out today.
In short, The Age is having a miserable run, with a percentage collapse in readership nearing double digits.
The Herald Sun readership is down a little, Melbourne’s favoured newspaper is experiencing mild turbulence compared to the Age’s explosive loss of cabin pressure.
While Fairfax shareholders wait for the oxygen masks to deploy, it’s just worth noting that this latest figure for the Saturday Age is the lowest readership figure ever recorded for that newspaper.
With the best part of a 10% fall in readership over the last quarter, we’re also seeing a terminal dive in classifieds business that Fairfax cannot arrest. The dive is too steep, too fast. Advertisers are noticing and are turning away.
Also significant is that the Sunday Age had previously been flying high in clear skies. Clearly the engines are flaming out on this baby too, despite (or perhaps because of) the nude appearance of some of its scribes in its increasingly trivial pages.
Hard to know what Fairfax can do to address what appears to be a nasty spiral, other than bale out. Fairfax’s enemies will make much of this terrible set of figures. Industry insiders say it can only get worse from here for the broadsheet with a very large and unwieldy editorial cost structure and new premises nearly as lavish as the SS Titanic.
We’ll be listening out for the distant “crump” and watching the horizon for the telltale pall of black smoke that will signal “no survivors”.