The Moorlander has been nominated for the Society of Editors Campaign of the Year and has also been nominated for Columnist of the Year in the Regional Press Awards, the ‘Oscars’ of the newspaper world.
A stream of good wishes has been flooding into The Moorlander
offices this week. The Moorlander columnist the Rev Maggy Whitehouse has been nominated for Columnist of the Year for her once a month quirky sideways look at life column ‘View from the Whitehouse’.
The Moorlander’s nomination for Campaign of the Year was for its investigation into ‘County Lines’ drugs trade, and means we are automatically put forward for the ‘Making a Difference – People’s Choice’ award, awarded by the News Media Association. Reporters Laura White and Ben Fox worked tirelessly on the newspaper’s special report last year into the ‘County Lines’ drugs trade that is blighting our area and claiming young lives.
County Lines drug gangs are now thought to be as big a threat to society as terrorism. The gangs based in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool supply drugs to towns and villages throughout the UK often using teenagers to peddle Class A drugs including Ecstasy or MDMA. The Moorlander decided to look in to this growing up-surge in the availability of hard drugs in the towns in this area and a number of deaths of young people.
The ‘County Lines’ gangs can use extreme violence and often rape to control their dealers and often take over the dealer’s home, known as ‘Cuckooing’. The dealer uses a mobile phone to order his drug supply from the gangs who remain anonymous.
Although The Moorlander was only launched less than three years ago and has a very small team, we have campaigned about NHS waste, and the closure of our local hospitals and high street banks over the last few years. On hearing the news that The Moorlander had been nominated, Mel Stride MP for Mid Devon said: “With many local newspapers across the country struggling in the face of more online content, I’ve been delighted to see The Moorlander go from strength to strength since its launch three years ago. In our social media age of fake news, trusted local newspapers have never been more important. Many congratulations to Ben, Laura and Maggy for their well-earned nominations.”
Stuart Clarke the editor of The Moorlander said: “I have been walking around with a smile on my face all week, I am very proud of the whole small team that we have and the amount of work they put in to produce a quality local newspaper.
‘It was a mad idea to start a print-based local paper in this digital age and we have come a long way since we started The Moorlander less than three years ago, and there have been times that this newspaper nearly closed.
‘But the restructuring of the business 18 months ago by Eric and Susan Partridge, and their incredible support, investment and continued hard work, has seen our circulation increase to almost double within that 18 months and we’re now available in over 400 outlets on and around Dartmoor.
‘While The Moorlander advertising income has increased, we try keep advertising to around 30% and 70% content. But we owe our success to our growing band of loyal readers, your support has helped us become the youngest newspaper to win multiple nominations in the 2019 journalism awards for either local or national, daily or weekly newspapers. Thank you.”
Other congratulations came from Andy Lines, the Chief Reporter of the Daily Mirror: “Great news on the nominations. Brilliant, well done.”
Justin Leigh newsreader at BBC Spotlight: “Congratulations and richly deserved. Good Luck!”
Ray Wells, The Sunday Times. “Brilliant news Stuart. Congratulations on a terrific publication.”
Mike Davies Mayor of West Devon. “Well done. Great news.”
Jan Goffey the former Mayor of Okehampton: “Wow! Brilliant and well deserved too.”