What if an organization held an awards contest — and almost nobody entered? That happened last night. Because the Los Angeles Press Club can’t honestly call its contest the “National Entertainment Journalism Awards” if Deadline Hollywood, Variety, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Forbes, Fortune, Time, The Daily Beast/Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, the network news shows, and a myriad other national media outlets covering entertainment didn’t participate. Which is why the “Bests” handed out Sunday evening were a big joke. Take, for instance, ‘Best Entertainment Publication’: it was a contest between The Hollywood Reporter and the Antelope Valley Press. And so on. For this and other reasons, Deadline Hollywood boycotted the NEJ awards this year after we were winners or finalists in several categories last year. In fact, that’s when I began taking these awards to task – and the press club officers often failed to answer or even acknowledge my concerns. In my opinion, the LA Press Club seems more interested in collecting entry fees and selling gala tables than in rewarding high standards of journalism or conducting a competition with integrity. Tabloid media outlets which engage in ‘checkbook journalism’ are allowed to enter and in fact win. So do reporters who write inaccurate articles or repurpose other media outlets’ reporting without credit. Also troubling is that the LA Press Club does not divulge the identities of its contest judges. And, from what I can glean, most prior judges possess no expert knowledge of the entertainment field. I strongly urge the LA Press Club to institute more transparency, integrity, and professionalism into its NEJ awards process in future years. Showbiz coverage deserves better.
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