Emotion as Fairfax, Horton share SWUG NZ awards… and APN’s Mulgrew is top apprentice

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New Zealand Single Width Users Group rounded off its annual conference by sharing technical gold medals between Fairfax and Horton Media sites, and naming Jamie Mulgrew of APN Tauranga its 2011 apprentice of the year.

Fairfax-owned ‘The Press’ Christchurch won the broadsheet and Horton the tabloid category for KK Fashion.

Fairfax Christchurch print centre manager Kirk Martin accepted his company’s award with an emotional speech, recognising the trauma the city and his staff had gone through during a year of earthquakes, lost infrastructure and recently, severe snowstorms.

“What we are seeing in this award is down to our staff,” he said.

Judges deemed the broadsheet section to be of exceptional quality, with a standard much higher than previously seen. Behind Fairfax were Allied Press (Otago Daily Times) and APN Print Hastings (Hawke’s Bay Today).

Entries in the tabloid category were also of a very high standard, showing a marked improvement on previous years. Runner-sup were Gisborne Herald, and The Dominion Post for Life.

• Committee member John Green said the standard of entries for this year’s apprentice of the year competition had been very high, but he and fellow judges Ian Gibson and Sue Archibald had been drawn to the accomplishments of one candidate.

Jamie Mulgrew will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Australia, hosted by sponsor DS Chemport, and will attend the Australian SWUG Awards.

It’s an experience last year’s winner, Matt Lowe of the Whakatane Beacon was able to recall in an accomplished and humorous speech detailing his trip and the plants he had visited as a result of the award.

• NZ SWUG founder John Green was also the recipient of an award, and taken aback by recognition of his efforts in getting the New Zealand organisation off the ground. A bonus was a $5000 cheque for Camp Quality, the children’s charity to which he gives his total support.

Chairman Dan Blackbourn said it reflected John Green’s stature that he could give time to such a cause while being involved in his own business and at the same time having a role still to play with SWUG. The money will allow five children to enjoy the Camp Quality experience.

• The auction of a signed Crusaders jersey raised $3200 for the Christchurch Mayor’s Earthquake Relief Fund, after a tough bidding race. Valued at $2500, the jersey – signed by All Blacks such as Richie McCaw and Dan Carter – was eventually bought by Horton Media.

The sporting theme was also present in the entertaining speech given by All Blacks high-performance coach Don Tricker, previously a Black Sox player and coach, who talked of motivating players to achieve self belief.

“A high performance team is one that holds the belief a common goal is greater than any one person. They work unconditionally together to achieve that goal,” he said.

Also during the evening, gifts were given to overseas visitors Mitiani Vela and Maika Bale of the Fiji Sun and Soane Ramanial of AP Tonga. Ricky Barker of The Dominion Post was also recognised for setting up the plant tour of the Petone site for delegates.

• As the eleventh New Zealand SWUG conference got underway in Wellington, chairman Dan Blackbourn called on printers to recognise that the industry is evolving, and to not only come to terms with that fact but to assist in directing the changes that are occurring.

Evolution would continue and that printers would face major changes in the next five-to-seven years: “Already, we have seen some rationalisation. But it is up to us to control the changes that happen from here,” he said.

“We have to come up with innovative ideas so advertisers see print as a preferred medium for their product.”

Turning to a humorous approach, he asked delegates to imagine life without newspapers – could we wrap our fish and chips in a laptop, or use an iPad if the need arose for an emergency toilet stop in a field?

The underlying message throughout the conference was very serious however: Speakers were asked to address the ‘Back to Basics’ theme in their presentations, bringing the delegates back to the core importance of producing clean, quality products.

Blackbourn urged delegates to network, share knowledge, discuss problems and turn their mind to the innovations and changes needed to underpin the importance of newspapers going forward.

Summarising the first day, he said the conference was the best ever, with the 112 registered attendees surpassing even the excellent turnout at Taupo last year.

He paid tribute to the SWUG committee and to supporters including gold sponsors Goss International, Norske Skog, DIC New Zealand, Flint Group, Fuji, DS Chemport, Oceanic Multitrading, Spicers and the new gold sponsor for this year, Bottcher. He also welcomed SWUG’s first silver sponsor, Kodak.

Pictured: APN Print Tauranga manager Michael Hall, Jamie Melgren SWUG Apprentice of the Year, and Jason Sycamore, Tauranga press supervisor

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