The Canon Media Awards 2015 finalists were announced yesterday, setting the stage for the awards presentation dinner scheduled to occur at Auckland's Pullman Hotel on 22 May.
The annual awards, which have been running for 40 years, celebrate the best of New Zealand’s newspapers, magazines and websites as well as the work of feature writers, columnists, cartoonists, reviewers and photographers. This year, there were 1,600 entries, of which 204 finalists were chosen by 39 independent judges.
This edition will commemorate the 175th year of newspaper publishing in New Zealand and, according to a release, will also “…underline the importance of media freedom and honour the memories of journalists killed or injured doing their job.”
As is the case every year, the key award highlights will include Canon Newspaper of the Year, Best Website and Magazine of the Year and The prestigious Wolfson Fellowship.
Last year, the major gong (the Canon Newspaper of the Year) went to the Dominion Post, and the publication is again among the finalists, having been shortlisted alongside The New Zealand Herald and The Press.
The Wellington-based publication's weekend edition also snuck into the Weekly Newspaper of the Year category, which looks particularly competitive this year, with the Herald on Sunday, National Business Review, The Weekend Press and The Sunday Star Times (this award was previously nabbed by the Herald on Sunday).
There are also some familiar titles in the Magazine of the Year category, with last year's winner Metro again landing a finalist spot and this year competing against NZ House and Garden and the NZ Listener.
A category that becomes increasingly important as journalism becomes more digitally driven is Best Digital Cross-Platform New Coverage, and The New Zealand Herald, Radio New Zealand and the Rotorua Daily Post will each hold high hopes of walking away with this gong.
The Rotorua Daily Post has enjoyed a strong year, and this was evidenced by the publication also landing a finalists spot in the Newspaper of the Year category for publications with a circulation of fewer than 30,000 (the other publications in this category are the Taranaki Daily News, The Manawatu Standard and The Wairarapa Times Age).
The two other digital categories that the attendees will be keeping a close eye on are Best Website and Best Blog. The latter award last year attracted the biggest jeer from the audience when Cameron Slater collected the gong for his right-wing political blog Whale Oil. There will not be a repeat of that this year, as Steve BrauniasI of Metro and Jarrod Gilbert have been shortlisted this time round.
The website category, which was last year won by Yahoo, will also have a new winner as either the Bay of Plenty Times, NBR, NZ Herald or Stuff will this year win the award.
Last year, the Whangarei-based Northern Advocate took top honours in this category, but the publication has not made the finalist nod this year.
The Best Community Paper gong might not be the prestigious at the Canon Awards, but given the sheer quantity of such publications in New Zealand, it is arguably one of the most competitive categories at the award show. And it's also worth noting that the journalists at these publications continue to serve as the backbone of Fairfax's editorial machine on this side of the ditch.
Last year, the gong for Best Community Paper went to the North Shore Times, but the publication did not get the nod this year, with Kapi-Mana News, Mountain Scene, Northland Age, NZ Farmer, The Wellingtonian and the Upper Hutt Leader fighting it out this year.
Newspapers, magazines and blogs are in reality the writers, photographers and designers who dedicate their lives to the trade. And this year, the series of individual finalists once again provides a reminder of the talented people working in the industry.
This year, the Reporter of the Year finalists are Shane Cowlishaw from The Dominion Post, Bevan Hurley from the Herald on Sunday, Matt Nippert from the Sunday Star Times/The New Zealand Herald and Jared Savage from The New Zealand Herald.
Last year this award was won by Andrea Vance, who also picked up the Wolfson Fellowship.
The Magazine Feature Writer of the year finalists are Steve Braunias for Metro, Duncan Greive for Metro and North and South, as well as Rebecca Macfie for the NZ Listener.
In 2014, Metro’s Steve Braunias was crowned the Magazine Feature Writer of the Year, while also receiving accolades for his work as a crime and justice writer and columnist. Jane Clifton of the New Zealand Listener was judged Columnist of the Year.
The photographer of the year finalists are Sarah Ivey and Brett Phibbs from the New Zealand Herald, as well as Martin De Ruyter from the Nelson Mail.
Finalists for Newspaper Feature of the Year are Charles Anderson from The Press/The Nelson Mail, David Fisher from the New Zealand Herald, Nikki Macdonald from the Dominion Post and Phil Taylor from the New Zealand Herald.
Cartoonist of the Year Finalists are Jim Hubbard for SNPA/The Dominion Post, Sharon Murdoch for The Press, Sunday Star Times and The Dominion Post, and Chris Slane for NZ Listener.
The New Zealand Herald’s Rod Emmerson and Richard Robinson were judged Cartoonist and Press Photographer of the Year respectively in the previous edition of the awards.