Members of the New Zealand magazine industry was out in their finest last night at the Bruce Mason Theatre to celebrate the achievements of the past year at the 2018 Webstar Magazine Media Awards.
MC James McOnie – of Crowd Goes Wild fame – was there to provide a bit of humour and reveal his connection to the media industry having worked in newspapers himself.
It was a wonderful night for Kowhai Media with NZ Geographic taking home Supreme Webstar Magazine of the Year, after collecting Best Magazine – Current Affairs and Business. Richard Robinson also was the winner of Best Photographer – Feature.
NZ Geographic publisher James Frankham says the win in a great reward, particularly for editor Rebekah White in particular, who has just had her first year in the editor’s chair.
“The magazine has never looked so good, and growth in sales reflect that.
"There has also been a matching effort on the digital side, with ongoing development of the NZGeo.com platform, growth in institutional digital subscriptions and a radical new programme of VR content.“
That VR content was recognised in the judges’ comments, that said New Zealand Geographic continues to stand out as the consummate modern magazine brand and business.
“Continually pushing into an already broad channel offering, underwater virtual reality was added to their capabilities in 2017, to the delight of its audience – and the publisher – 2017 was New Zealand Geographic’s most commercial to date under Kowhai Media’s ownership,” said the judges.
About the addition of VR, Frankham says it’s brought some peculiar challenges and opportunities for us.
“It’s insanely difficult to produce—the camera technology is new and expensive, the compiling software is unwieldy and buggy, the distribution standards are largely unwritten and mobile devices all disagree on how to display it. We feel like we’re responding to consumer demand, but at the moment that's way ahead of where the production industry is at. It’s also an entirely new revenue model for us—a combination of NGO and public funding that is more akin to the film and television sector.
“However all of those challenges melt away when we see how the VR content is received by the audience. It’s incredibly popular and, since Facebook bought Oculus, also charts really well on social—single posts with more than 300,000 reach.”
The other major award, the Supreme NZ Post Editor of the Year, went to Nicky Dewe, of Good Health Choices after she took out Best Editor – Lifestyle. She spoke about working with a fantastic team and thanked those that had helped, and inspired, her to get to this point.
According to the judges' comments, Dewe has a clear editorial vision.
"Delivery to two markets (NZ and AU) in a cluttered and tricky editorial market of health. Sheer amount and quality of editorial impressive and healthy lift in figures. Profit up 42 percent. Great leadership during title evolvement."
Dewe told StopPress she was rapt to be the recipient.
"Towards the end of last year, we not only revamped Good Health Choices for its New Zealand audience but took on the challenge of producing the title for Australia as well. It’s been a big job and a major learning curve, but so satisfying to see it performing well in both countries. I’m very lucky to have a brilliant team to work with, supportive bosses who have placed a lot of confidence and trust in me, and it’s a real buzz to have had these achievements recognised by my peers and the MPA.”
Kate Coughlan, managing director NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group and Editor of NZ Life & Leisure, took to the stage to give a heartfelt speech to introduce her friend and the Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jenny Wheeler. Coughlan spoke of Wheeler's numerous and monumental achievements, including being the founding editor of NZ House & Garden and the first woman editor of the NZ Listener.
Wheeler gave a rousing and emotional speech speaking of her past working in magazines and spoke of her recent work as podcaster and novelist.
Other individual awards saw Wilderness Magazine's Alistair Hall named Best Editor – Consumer Special Interest, New Zealand Listener's Pamela Stirling names Best Editor – Current Affairs, Business & Trade, NZ House & Garden's Sally Duggan named Best Editor – Home and Food.
The Best Magazines across the categories include Wilderness Magazine for Consumer Special Interest, NZ House & Garden for Home and Food, New Zealand Woman's Weekly for Lifestyle and NZ Marketing – Trade.
Alongside NZ Marketing, StopPress received the Adestra Best Digital Brand Award for B2B, while FQ.co.nz and MissFQ.co.nz received Adestra Best Digital Brand Award for B2C. FQ.co.nz & MissFQ.co.nz was later named Adestra Digital Brand of the Year.
It followed Dish Magazine taking home Magshop People’s Choice Award and Best Cover – Home and Food.
New Zealand’s Women’s Weekly 85th Anniversary Issue was the recipient of The Gordon & Gotch Newsstand Magazine Excellence Award.
And while looking back to the past year for the industry, the future was celebrated with StopPress/NZ Marketing's Erin McKenzie from ICG Media taking home the coveted Webstar Rising Star – Editorial and Ashleigh Iton of Bauer winning the coveted Webstar Rising Star – commercial.
Also on the rise was the ICG Best Rising Brand, that went to Bauer Media's Now to Love.
The ICG Best Innovation went to Idealog for 'The Idealog + Blunt + Generator Umbrella Experiment' while the ICG Best Marketing Campaign went to 'Woman's Day Hottest Radio Hunk 2017'.
The Best Cover awards went to New Zealand Weddings for Consumer Special Interest, Metro for Current Affairs, Business & Trade, Dish for Home and Food, and Woman's Day for Lifestyle.
To view the winners from the night visit here.