With the news and publishing industry currently going through one of its more difficult periods, the Canon Media Awards are a welcome dose of positivity and celebration. And The Dominion Post got the biggest dose of the night.
In its 40th year, the awards drew a record number of entries and a record crowd of 525, including, shock horror, a few PR agencies and clients. The Wellington-based daily won the metropolitan newspaper of the year and supreme award after a number of years as bridesmaid (newspaper of the year is chosen from the winners of sections open to metropolitan and regional daily newspapers, weeklies and community titles). The paper was described by the judges Campbell Reid and Garry Linnell, Australian editorial chiefs of News Corp and Fairfax Media respectively, as “a complete package”.
“The Dominion Post’s brilliant spy scandal story and a deep affection for its home town show it has mastered the art of walking down both sides of its street at once," they said. “ ... The Dominion Post is a newspaper in full flight. It breaks great stories but also exudes energy and spontaneity."
Editor Bernadette Courtney summed it up in her acceptance speech: "Three words: about bloody time."
Political reporter Andrea Vance, who broke the Government Communications Security Bureau spying scandal and became a subject of media scrutiny herself, was named reporter of the year and political reporter of the year, and she also received the $20,000 Wolfson Fellowship Award (she will spend three months studying the protection of sources in the digital age at Oxford). In her speech, she said her father was a reporter in Northern Ireland during the troubles so protecting sources was a matter of life of death. And while it is obviously a very different environment in Wellington, she stood firm and has never revealed hers.
The Dom Post, which is soon to move offices, also won an award for best digital community interaction after taking John Key's comments about Wellington being a "dying city" and creating the Wellington Report, which the judges called a "fast, fun and extraordinarily well done" response to a prime ministerial sledge.
In the regional newspaper category, for newspapers under 30,000 circulation, APN-owned and Whangarei-based Northern Advocate took top honours (and also top honours for the loudest table), while APN took the award for best weekly for the Weekend Herald, which the judges said was a "thoroughly modern newspaper". The North Shore Times was judged best community newspaper.
In the magazine section, Bauer dominated, with Metro winning best newsstand magazine, Taste winning best design and Home winning best cover. New Zealand Doctor rounded it out with best trade/professional.
In the digital awards, Fairfax took three of them, with stuff.co.nz winning best news site, Lost in the Long White Cloud winning best multimedia innovation and Mike Scott of the Waikato Times winning best video for a story about shooting victim Jamie Ryan.
APN won best breaking news coverage for nzherald.co.nz and best innovation for the Viva iPad app, while Yahoo, which is largely a content aggregation site but has invested in an editorial team, won best website.
As for the individual awards, Tony Wall of the Sunday Star-Times took out feature writer of the year and general reporter of the year and gave quite possibly the best acceptance speech ever: "Why did I wear this shirt?"
Metro’s Steve Braunias won the top magazine feature writing award as well as humour/satire columnist of the year, Jane Clifton of The Listener was judged overall columnist of the year, NBR's chief reporter Duncan Bridgeman won business reporter of the year, junior reporter of the year went to Sam Boyer, who recently shifted from The Dominion Post to the Herald, and Metro's Duncan Greive won two feature writing awards for arts/entertainment and sport. But the biggest response on the night was reserved for Cameron Slater, who took the new and controversial award for best blog on the strength of Whale Oil’s Len Brown scoop.
Slightly ironically, given the industry that was being celebrated, most of the winners who were given an opportunity to speak tended to be people of few words, but, unsurprisingly, Slater didn't really fit that mould and stuck the boot into The Herald's David Fisher and Andrea Vance in his acceptance speech.
But, as MC Hillary Barry said afterwards: "Two words: Press Council."
In the photographic category, the NZ Herald's Richard Robinson was named press photographer of the year (see his portfolio here) and Brett Phibbs won best photo essay/slideshow for photos taken at the America's Cup.
Silence erupted when Getty's Hannah Johnston was announced as the winner of the best portrait award for a shot of Kim Dotcom, presumably due to the current stoush in Australia as Fairfax gets set to lay off up to 80 staff, many of them photographers (Getty is thought to be filling the gap).
When accepting an award to celebrate the Herald's 150th anniversary last year (for which it won the new award for best brand campaign), editor in chief Tim Murphy seemed to allude to that situation when he said he thought that photographers were a distinct competitive advantage.
The New Zealand Herald’s Rod Emmerson was judged cartoonist of the year for the fourth time. And Fred Tulett, who recently left his post as editor of The Southland Times and was replaced by Garry Ferris, was given the lifetime achievement award (as well as saying it was a pleasure to have seen so many reporters he's mentored over the years rise through the ranks to now run teams of their own, he also thanked "the Granny Herald" for writing a "sycophantic" story about David Lange's divorce that so incensed Naomi Lange she gave him a call—and one of his best stories).
Elsewhere, APN also took awards for best newspaper design and best weekly liftout for Timeout.
Martin Simons, the departing chief executive of APN New Zealand Media said in a release: "APN is a modern multimedia brand with a bright future and these awards reflect its strength and relevance to our readers who look to our titles for thought-provoking and timely content built on credibility, integrity and trust. We continue to invest in our titles across print and digital platforms and this remains our utmost priority. For us it’s about meeting the continuing changing needs of consumers, who judge us every day at news stand and online. I think the team is doing a great job at it and the peer recognition is reward for the effort of the top teams we have across all areas of the company."
Press Photographer of the Year: Richard Robinson, New Zealand Herald
Junior Press Photographer of the Year: Alden Williams, The Nelson Mail
Best News Picture: Craig Simcox, The Dominion Post
Best Sports Picture: Iain McGregor, The Press
Best Portrait: Hannah Johnston, Getty
Best Feature Photo: Stephen Parker, Rotorua Daily Post
Best Photo Essay/Slideshow: Brett Phibbs, The New Zealand Herald
Best Digital Breaking News Coverage: nzherald.co.nz
Best Innovation in Multimedia Storytelling: stuff.co.nz, Lost in the Long White Cloud
Best Innovation in New Technologies: Viva - The New Zealand Herald
Best Digital Community Interaction: The Wellington Report - The Dominion Post
Best Video: Mike Scott, Waikato Times/stuff.co.nz
Best Blog: Cameron Slater – Whale Oil
Best News site: stuff.co.nz; Best Website: Yahoo NZ
Best Newsstand: Metro
Best Trade/Professional: New Zealand Doctor
Best Design: Taste
Best Cover: HOME
Feature Writer of the Year: Steve Braunias, Metro
Feature Writer, Business and Politics: Rebecca Macfie, NZ Listener
Feature Writer, Crime and Justice: Steve Braunias, Metro
Feature Writer, Health and Education: Catherine Woulfe, NZ Listener
Feature Writer, Science and Environment: Mike White, North & South
Feature Writer, Arts and Entertainment: Duncan Greive, Metro
Feature Writer Sport: Duncan Greive, Metro
Feature Writer General: Amanda Cropp, North & South
Canon Newspaper of the Year: The Dominion Post
Newspaper of the Year (plus 30,000 circulation): The Dominion Post
Newspaper of the Year (up to 30,000 circulation) Northern Advocate
Weekly Newspaper of the Year: Weekend Herald
Community Newspaper of the Year: North Shore Times
Best Newspaper Design: The New Zealand Herald
Best Newspaper Inserted Magazine: Time Out, The New Zealand Herald
Reporter of the Year: Andrea Vance, Fairfax political bureau
Junior Reporter of the Year: Sam Boyer, The Dominion-Post
Regional/Community Reporter of the Year: Sandra Conchie, Bay of Plenty Times
Reporter, politics: Andrea Vance, Fairfax political bureau
Reporter, business: Duncan Bridgeman, National Business Review
Reporter, crime and justice: Anna Leask, The New Zealand Herald
Reporter, health and education: David Fisher, The New Zealand Herald
Reporter, science and environment: Marty Sharpe, The Dominion Post
Reporter, arts and entertainment: Michelle Robinson, Sunday Star-Times
Reporter, sport: Dylan Cleaver, The New Zealand Herald
Reporter, general: Tony Wall, Sunday Star-Times
Feature Writer of the Year: Tony Wall, Sunday Star-Times
Junior Feature Writer of the Year: Jeremy Olds, New Zealand Doctor
Regional/Community Feature Writer of the Year: Helen Harvey, Taranaki Daily News
Feature Writer, business and politics: John McCrone, The Press
Feature Writer, crime and justice: David Fisher, The New Zealand Herald
Feature Writer, health and education: Adam Dudding, Sunday Star-Times
Feature Writer, science and environment: John McCrone, The Press
Feature Writer arts and entertainment: Linda Herrick, The New Zealand Herald
Feature Writer Sport: Phil Taylor , The New Zealand Herald
Feature Writer, general: Matt Rilkoff, Taranaki Daily News
Best Brand Campaign, The New Zealand Herald
Best Investigation: Kirsty Johnston, Sunday Star-Times
Student Journalist of the Year: Susan Strongman, Taranaki Daily News
Best Artwork: Anna Crichton, The New Zealand Herald
Cartoonist of the Year: Rod Emmerson, The New Zealand Herald
Best Columnist, humour/satire: Steve Braunias, Sunday Star-Times
Best Columnist, general: Jane Clifton, NZ Listener
Columnist of the Year: Jane Clifton, NZ Listener
Editorial Writer of the Year: Jane Clifton, NZ Listener
Best Headline: Jo Knight, Sunday Magazine, Sunday Star-Times
Reviewer of the Year: Chris Barton, Metro
Wolfson Fellow 2014: Andrea Vance, Fairfax political bureau.