Brushing aside strong competition from the Australian metropolitan publications, the New Zealand Herald has been judged the Newspaper of the Year at the annual Pacific Area Newspapers Publishers' Association (Panpa) awards.
The list of finalists included The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review and the Herald Sun among others, but the judging panel determined the Kiwi publication to be the best of the bunch.
According to a Herald report, the judges said: “Across all sections, the New Zealand Herald excels, with bright, engaging treatment. It fearlessly stands up when needed on major issues, but still knows how to have fun. It is a compulsive read - both in print and online. The paper says its mission is to advocate, inform and entertain. It succeeds - in spades. This year's entries were of an exceptional standard. In many ways the variety of emphasis and style and approach to stories to cover shows the diversity of media choice across the region. Each title has articulated aggressive and comprehensive digital and business strategies as well as taking great pride in their print editions. It remains clear that across the board, print newspapers and their journalism continue to set the social and political agenda. The New Zealand Herald is absolutely a benchmark for this. It's balance of content is of a high quality publication and it's importance to New Zealand society is clear. It has an exciting strategy and mission that will take the newspaper into a bright future.”
The success of the Herald also extended to the publication's investigations editor Jared Savage, who won the Hegarty Award, which is given annually to an outstanding young news publishing executive.
Savage's portfolio featured some of the biggest investigative reports of the year, including:
- an investigation into links between the National Party and a wealthy donor, leading to the resignation of Maurice Williamson;
- an exclusive interview with Rochelle Crewe, following a police review into the unsolved murders of her parents;
- an investigation into a wealthy businessman William Yan, accused of laundering $129 million into New Zealand; and
- an exposition on a prominent businessman Michael Vukcevic, who falsely claimed to have a law degree.
Savage told the Herald that he plans to use the $10,000 scholarship that accompanies the award to visit the United States to attend an investigative journalism conference next year.
He also said that he plans to visit Washington Post and New York Times newsrooms to learn more about how investigative reporters work alongside data journalists and programmers to produce stories.
Only 32 years old, Savage quickly moved up the ranks at the Herald after being appointed general news reporter at the Herald on Sunday in 2006. This award will now also take its place alongside the Canon Media Awards Savage won earlier in 2015 for Senior Reporter of the Year and Best Crime Reporter.
In addition to these major awards, NZME also enjoyed further successes as Stephen Parker, from the Daily Post in Rotorua, won the award for top sports photograph from a regional newspaper and Justine Black, a creative services art director for NZME, was named the designer/creative services professional of the year.
While not quite as successful at the awards event held in Sydney on Friday night, Fairfax also picked up a few awards.
The most prominent of these on the night went to newspapers reporter Simon Maude, who won the photography titles for the community and national/metropolitan categories for his dramatic water rescue images showing an Auckland woman being saved from her vehicle.
Haley Ashwell from the Fairfax marketing team scooped the Panpa Award for best sponsorship for her part in the Art in the Dark activation, which last year gave event attendees the opportunity to create some digital art of their own.
Finally, the Otago Daily Times (in conjunction with McDonald's) also won the award for best print campaign for a client in the national/metropolitan publication category.