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.
Deadline Hollywood did not enter the Los Angeles Press Club’s so-called National Entertainment Journalism Awards this year. The decision to resign from the LA Press Club’s board and to boycott these awards was mine, made in consultation with my staff, after we participated for the first time last year and were winners or finalists in several categories. In my opinion, the LA Press Club seems more interested in collecting entry fees and selling gala tables to its 5-year-old entertainment awards contest 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 won NEJ categories last year. Articles which were inaccurate also won categories in 2011 as did articles which repurposed other media outlets’ reporting without credit. Also troubling is that the LA Press Club does not divulge the identities of the NEJ judges. And, from what I can glean, most prior judges possessed no expert knowledge of the specialized entertainment field. Finally, these awards are almost entirely Los Angeles-centric so calling them ‘national’ is a misnomer. 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.