Newspapers search for new ideas to engage readership

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Greg Nesbitt, left, chairman of Canadian Community Newspaper Association and publisher of Nesbitt Publishing of Shoal Lake, Manitoba was on hand to present Great Ideas awards to Heather Tedford, director of advertising with The Guardian. Assisting in the presentation is Peter Kvarnstrom, chairman of the Canadian Newspaper Association and president, community media with Glacier Media Group.

Newspaper readers are being engaged in a variety of innovative ways by publications across Canada.

The Calgary Herald published a 32-page insert on how the devastating flood last year impacted the animals at the Calgary Zoo.

It was full of impactful stories and pictures from journalists who were embedded at the zone following the disaster. It also contained drawings that children had submitted of their favourite animals. It became a news story that connected with a broader audience.

Monica Zurowski, managing editor of the Calgary Herald, said it was one of the 'Great Ideas' the newspaper has come up with lately.

She told the story to an audience gathered Thursday at the Newspapers Canada conference in Charlottetown.

Sophie Gaulin with La Liberte, a French language newspaper in Manitoba with a circulation of 6,000, said she took down notes on all of the presentations at the Great Ideas seminar on Thursday.

"When I heard the presentations I knew when I go back to my paper this is exactly what I'm going to do,'' Gaulin told The Guardian.

Ontario's Aylmer Express' big idea was to insert food donation bags in its newspapers just before Thanksgiving while The Hamilton Spectator turned an anniversary event into a multi-media presentation on its website.

"We can go back to our newspapers and (this helps us) engage the community better,'' Gaulin said.

Newspapers Canada recognized achievements in this area with the 2014 Great Ideas Awards Thursday night.

The Guardian walked away with four pieces of hardware (in the daily newspaper/small market category), including a pair of first-place trophies — for its All Access Pass, which allows readers access to its print, online and e-editions for a single price.

It was also awarded first-place honours for the Show Us Your Style, a joint initiative between The Guardian and G! Magazine, a magazine The Guardian publishes. In August 2013, the Charlottetown Mall paired up with G! to run an online contest for stylish Islanders looking for the chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree, a style consultation with Kimberly Rashed of Style Becomes Her and a photo shoot to appear on the cover of G! Magazine.

The Guardian also took second place for its book sale for literacy and its Stuff for Students program, which collects school supplies for students who can't afford them.

Heather Tedford, director of sales for The Guardian, said it's always great to be recognized by one's peers.

"It's an even bigger honour to receive this recognition in a year when we are hosting Newspapers Canada,'' Tedford said. "It's kind of nice to win in our house.''

Organizations: Calgary Herald, The Guardian, Newspapers Canada Calgary Zoo Stuff for Students

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Manitoba, Ontario Canada

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