If you saw the national newspapers or TV news on Saturday, then you’ll know that The New Year Honours were somewhat dominated by Olympians. And why not? 2012, after all, is a year which will be remembered for sport.
For regional newsrooms, the New Year Honours provide a chance to celebrate the achievements of loca l rea ders whose gongs, give or take the odd token exception, never make the pages of national newspapers or on to TV broadcasts.
When I worked on newsdesks and as a reporter, the arrival of the Honours list – normally released at midday under pain-of-death embargo – prompted a flurry of activity, maybe for the first time since the annual raiding of the Christmas specials basket began a week earlier.
Locating people named on the list was often a challenge – the list was hardly strong on geographic specifics. And the description of the honours – eg ‘for services to libraries’ – didn’t give much away either.
And I’ve never fully believed the myth that people keep it to themselves until the announcement is made. The number of press releases which arrive a minute after the lists arrive under embargo suggests as such.
One report I read this year talked of money already arriving from relatives in America to buy champagne. But hey, as a journalist, who am I to complain about secrets not being observed.
So, given the focus on Sir Bradley Wiggins, I thought it’d be worth celebrating the great front pages produced around the country on Saturday to mark the New Year Honours for 2013.
Of course, two newspapers – the Lancashire Evening Post and Wigan Evening Post – went for Sir Bradley Wiggins, given he’s local
(more so to Wigan than the Preston-based LEP).
The Yorkshire Evening Post, Western Morning News, South Wales Argus, Daily Echo, Shields Gazette, Northern Echo and Bolton News all also had Olympians or sports heroes to shout about on the front page.
Perhaps the most poignant front page story was one shared by the Blackpool Gazette and Lancashire Telegraph, which have both extensively covered the campaign by the mother of a murdered nurse killed her ex partner while he was on bail for rape to get the law changed.
The Coventry Telegraph had a hero fireman and the Oxford Mail a lady who has fought for heritage, while the Worcester News and Shropshire Star focused on a number of local heroes on their front page.
But Gongs Day is guaranteed a front page slot, as was the case in Sheffield, where the Star covered the latest on a church organist murdered on his way to midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
In Gloucester and Cheltenham, the ongoing flooding situation meant that celebrating on the front page would have probably gone down badly, while in Liverpool, a moving story of a man who died while delivering presents made the front page.
Two remarkable stories in Derby and Leicester swept the gongs off the front. In Nottingham, a woman gave birth on Christmas Day – not even knowing she was pregnant, while in Leicester, a Dad spent Christmas Day doing an emergency, unplanned home birth.
And finally, in Belfast, gongs did make the front page … but as part of a row over Northern Irish folk being overlooked for honours.
Who said Christmas was meant to be quiet?