Heather Jones, editor of Shropshire Newspapers' The Farmer, receives the winning journalist and publication certificates from Guild chairman, Adrian Bell.
The winners of the Guild's 2011 regional farming journalism award is The Farmer, a monthly published in the West Midlands by The Shropshire Star, and its editor, Guild member Heather Jones.
In choosing the winner, Val Chapman, who judged the award with freelance Guild member Liz Falkingham, Chestnutmare Media, says she looks for three specific traits.
“First, I’m looking for the effectiveness of the entrants’ communication to farmers and those working in specifically agricultural-interest environments,” she says. “Second, I’m interested in gauging their effectiveness in communicating to non-agriculturalists, people who may know little about the subject.
“Third, I assess the writing style – clarity, conciseness, how easy it is for the reader to assimilate the information," she concludes.
Val described the writing style of runner-up award winner Joe Watson, farming editor of the Press & Journal in Aberdeen, as consistently crisp and his work as clear and concise, as well as straightforward and informative.
It was a close call, she adds, but the winner of this year’s Stuart Seaton Award, Heather Jones, editor of The Farmer scores with a friendly, warm writing style.
"Articles are written to inform, but they also hit the tone of appealing to those on the periphery of farming," says Val. "A wide variety of topics, with lots of case studies, show that this publication is about farmers as well as about farming, and also about the community it serves.
“The winning newspaper achieves comprehensive regional coverage, giving the reader a real insight into what farmers are achieving with their businesses, and projecting a clear personality as a publication," she adds.
After receiving a certificate naming her the top regional farming/rural affairs correspondent of 2011, Heather said: "I am absolutely thrilled to win this award. It is a great accolade for The Farmer and it's all thanks to the skill, hard work and dedication of the small but very mighty team that work on it.
“I am from a farming family myself and I know that reading time is limited on today’s busy farms," she added. "With The Farmer, we aim to provide a source of regional and national farming stories and adverts, which the farming communities can dip into when needed.”