AOP Awards Gallery: Proof Of Your Drunken Antics

Uh-oh. There were likely some very sore heads around town on Wednesday morning (and we know who you are!). The Association of Online Publishers held its annual awards at Old Billingsgate on Tuesday night, congratulating winners in 17 competition categories. If the night’s celebrations have been pushed from memory by hangover, we have the photographic evidence in this here slideshow, courtesy of AOP. You all look gorgeous

paidContent:UK was nominated in two categories (Specialist Digital Publisher and Digital Publisher – Business); we even got a namecheck of sorts from compere and comedian Hugh Dennis, but that was our only victory – congrats to the winners.

Community contributors must be properly rewarded: Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) is paying local correspondents with school diplomas; CN Group offers them a share of online ad sales. But the returns are miniscule, and won’t incentivise contributors to write more. Why not collaborate with them on commercial, as well as editorial? While you wouldn’t necessarily want community bloggers acting as ad sales reps, online sales team are missing a trick by not using correspondents to find new sponsors and classified ad customers.

City papers should stop competing with nationals, return to their neighbourhoods: The relaunched Evening Standard still offers very little on a local, district level online. In a city made up of inter-connected but often distinct boroughs, it surely makes sense to offer Londoners something relevant to the specific areas they live in. The Standard should become an umbrella for local blogs and news start-ups — a platform for local people to write news about their area. When I floated this idea on Twitter the other day the Standard‘s deputy political editor Paul Waugh gave it a warm reception. So we look forward to hearing of progress on that one…

Pro-ams should work together to reach scale: If mainstream publishers won’t help local start-ups, then the start-ups need to work together to help themselves – William Perrin of the Talk About Local site suggests just that. While there is a loose-knit community of London local sites, a firm, national consortium of publishers, collaborating on technology, commercial strategy and advertising, surely has a better chance of success than a disparate assortment of sites. Rob Powell runs and and has devised his own listings platform which he says could be exported to other local sites if it proves to be successful. Powell also hosts affiliate links to things businesses like the O2 Arena and New Look — something other local sites could financially benefit from with hardly any cost involved. Budding local publishers should consider giving him call…

Realise readers already have direct-data news: Much is made of journalists‘ role in shaping democracy and informing the public, but there are now online tools provide more detailed local information about people’s lives than any newspaper. I follow my MP’s actions on TheyWorkForYou and report problems in my neighbourhood on FixMyStreet, two MySociety projects. I can keep up with planning applications, local news and event listings with HopHive, a free local aggregator. They’re the kinds of information local papers used to enjoy a monopoly for the processing and reinterpretation of – but, thanks to these new tools which place the reader in control, nowadays people have direct access to much of the same raw data that reporters rewrite. Local papers must acknowledge that and augment the upstarts with complementary, not competing, offerings. Just like embracing outside bloggers can add a cheap new range of authoritative voices, so too can showing readers the source of a story free an editorial team to focus on interpreting and investigating news elsewhere.