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MDDC Editorial awards enjoys 21 percent jump; HOF reception next up

By T.C. Cameron

The 2013 Editorial Awards Luncheon on May 17 enjoyed an attendance increase of almost 21 percent, to 165 people, after three years of flat attendance.

There are a handful of small reasons that likely contribute to the increase for the editorial luncheon. This year’s event, once again hosted at the Four Seasons by Sheraton BWI in Baltimore, took place nearly a month later than previous years.

The bump follows three years of virtually flat attendance for the editorial luncheon in 2010 (144), 2011 (142) and 2012 (146). The increased attendance followed closely on a large jump in entries in the editorial contest.

“We were very pleased to see more newspapers sending more people to the luncheon,” said Jack Murphy, executive director of MDDC. “We hope it reflects increasing optimism among our members.”

MDDC’s attention now turns to the reception for our three Hall of Fame inductees and our winner of the Distinguished Service Award. It will be at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 13 at the University of Maryland’s Knight Hall, home to the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism.

Hall inductees are Jim Keat of the Baltimore Sun, Carol Melamed of the Washington Post and Tom Marquardt of the Annapolis Capital and service award winner is Frank Quine of the University of Maryland. You can register for the reception here.

In recent years, the Hall induction has taken place at a dinner the night between the luncheons for the advertising awards and the editorial awards. This year, it has been moved to a new location, where the Hall of Fame itself is headquartered.

Attendance at the Hall of Fame dinner had been dropping, from 74 in 2010 to 32 for last year’s event. The hope is that a late afternoon reception will be easier for people to attend than an evening dinner. With the university’s spring semester concluded, the campus will be less crowded, and it will also be the first chance for many to see the Hall of Fame in its new home.

As for the revived interest in the editorial contest, MDDC membership services coordinator Jennifer Thornberry said the decision to allow multiple submissions by the same candidate created more entries in the contest. And the decision to allow winners to know how many awards they won boosted attendance at the luncheon, she said.

“I think the increase of entries was due to the fact that individuals were not limited to how many entries they could enter in a category,” Thornberry said. “I also think letting the individual know how many awards they won was a factor. It was easier for the decision makers to know who to send.”

These decisions helped boost entry submissions by over 13 percent. The 2012 contest attracted 1,623 entries, while this year 1,840 entries were received.

Social media also bolstered the visibility of the editorial awards. This was most notable on the journalist-favored Twitter via live tweeting by the winners from the event. MDDC’s Twitter feed (@MDDCPress) enjoyed a 25 percent increase in followers in a five-day period that commenced the day before the luncheon through the Monday following the event.

MDDC’s handle was mentioned over 254 times in the same period by journalists and their followers.

In contrast to the editorial awards, the advertising awards luncheon was cancelled this year, after years of poor attendance. As more and more newspapers contract out their ad services, fewer creative staff people are available to enter and to be recognized.

Total entries in the ad contest perked up a little this year, from 294 to 314, but just 18 newspapers participated, down from 28 the previous year. The attendance for the advertising awards luncheon had plummeted from 87 in 2009 to just 33 people in 2012.

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