APN makes it six in a row at Canon Media Awards as NZ Herald rejig nets top prize—UPDATED

It’s one night where the big challenges currently being faced by the print media industry are brushed to one side and the hard work of photographers, journalists, artists, designers, cartoonists, editors and many others—both in print and, increasingly, online—is celebrated at the Canon Media Awards. And it was APN’s newly compacted New Zealand Herald that came away with the top prize. 

Themed around the power of journalism, a record 1,389 entries were received this year, containing more than 7,000 pieces of work. And twenty eight judges across New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and the US assessed the work and selected the finalists and winners.

  • Check out some glamour shots here

As well as The Canon Newspaper of the Year award, The New Zealand Herald scooped a further five awards, including best news site, best newspaper of the year (with a circulation of over 30,000), best newspaper inserted magazine for The Business and best newspaper design (Herald titles and staff were nominated for more than 30 awards, the best of any title). 

“The move to compact format has been a brilliant success, but it was so much more than a new design,” says editor Shayne Currie. “We overhauled our content to ensure we stayed relevant and topical, with a greater focus on in-depth journalism, new columnists and revamped sections and lift-outs. Our readers and advertisers have told us they love the changes—it’s terrific the Canon judges have reaffirmed that, and recognition of all the blood, sweat and tears that went into the project across the New Zealand Herald.”

It is the sixth time in a row a Herald title has won the newspaper of the year award, following previous wins by the daily New Zealand Herald (2011), the Weekend Herald (2009/2012) and the Herald on Sunday (2008/2010). 

“The New Zealand Herald is a triumph,” said judge Mark Hollands, a former chief executive of the Pacific Area Newspapers Association and now chief executive of the Australian newspaper marketing arm, Newspaper Works. “It has modernised and become more relevant to the needs of readers. It has lost none of its authority or the power of its journalism. It has gained on every front. There’s nothing to touch it this year. It is the standout.” 

While it might be a triumph and a brilliant success, and while APN is obviously playing the long game here, ABC figures show paid circulation has declined since the launch of the compact format in September, from 166,384 in September 2012 to 162,181 at the end of December (average net paid is 155,139). And, while it’s not particularly scientific, the job of newspaper reporter was recently named the worst job in the world by US recruitment company CareerCast, due to decreasing job prospects and salaries but increasing work hours and stress. 

As well as best news website award, won in a year in which the site was redesigned and the digital audience hit record levels, nzherald.co.nz won best website breaking news coverage for the West Auckland tornado and best innovation in new technologies for its Window 8 app, which is thought to have been partially funded by Microsoft to populate its app store. 

“This is an unprecedented win for us and something we’re incredibly proud of,” says Herald Online editor and head of news Cathy O’Sullivan. “Over the past seven years the Herald has won best news website five times and best website twice. Our award for the breaking news coverage for the West Auckland tornado is also a fantastic accolade and demonstrates the strengths of the digital team to keep readers up-to-date on the very latest news as it unfolds.” 

APN’s Bay of Plenty Times was awarded best newspaper of the year (with a circulation under 30,000) for the second year in a row and of APN’s individual winners, David Fisher was named best senior reporter for the second time; John Armstrong won best columnist; The Rotorua Daily Post’s Stephen Parker was named senior press photographer of the year (and its table was unofficially named rowdiest on the night); the Herald on Sunday’s Peter Bromhead was named cartoonist of the year (he’s won it a few times before and in his speech he summed up the changes he’s witnessed in the industry over the years by saying he used to get a trip to London as a prize and now he just gets a plastic statue); The Listener’s Diana Wichtel was named reviewer of the year; Richard Robinson from The New Zealand Herald won best photo essay for his amazing photographs of a pod of humpback whales, the same award he won in 2011; and freelancer Anna Crichton was named best artist, with Herald work featuring in her winning portfolio. 

As for Fairfax, stuff.co.nz won the best website award, which, unlike the best news website, awards the combination of news and other content (its headline is ‘Fairfax scoops top honours at media awards’ and there’s even a Reddit thread about the win entitled ‘Well New Zealand, we’ve been wrong about Stuff all along‘). It also took best innovation in multimedia storytelling and best community interaction for The Press Zone Life and best video for Waikato Times’ Mike Scott. 

Fairfax also took best weekly newspaper for Dominion Post Weekend, best community newspaper for Kapi Mana News and a host of individual awards, including Sam Boyer of The Dominion Post winning junior reporter, Simon Plumb of Sunday Star-Times claiming sports reporter, Phil Kitchin of The Dominion Post taking awards for politics and his investigative work into mass privacy breach at ACC, Adam Dudding of the Sunday Star-Times winning senior feature writer; Aimee Cronin of The Waikato Times winning junior feature writer; The Dom Post’s Tracy Watkins winning best political feature; and Waikato Times’ Jenna Lynch winning student journalist of the year. 

Emma Allen from the Marlborough Express was named best junior press photographer, making this the third year in a row that a Marlborough Express photographer has won the award. Best news picture was awarded to Kent Blechynden from The Dominion Post for his image of the clash at Civic Square as Occupy Wellington protestors were evicted, while Iain McGregor from The Press was presented best sports picture for his image of Andrea Hewitt training ahead of the London Olympics.

This year saw the first awards given in two new categories being best feature photo and best portrait, which were taken home by Natasha Martin from the Timaru Herald and Robert Kitchin of the Manuwatu Standard respectively.

In the magazine section, the bi-monthly New Zealand Geographic, which is published by Kowhai Media, one of the country’s smallest and newest publishers, beat out Metro and Home for best newsstand magazine, Young Country won trade/professional magazine of the year and Home won best design. 

North & South’s Mike White took the overall magazine feature writer, political feature writer and arts and entertainment feature writer of the year awards, and won the Fellow to Wolfson College scholarship, which will see him study miscarriages of justice in Cambridge. 

New Zealand Geographic has been running for 24 years under a range of different publishers and it was acquired just over a year ago by the incumbent editor James Frankham and art director Marc Backwell. 

“As a small family-owned publisher, we have always had more enthusiasm than money,” says Backwell. “This result is a testament to a lot of hard work by a lot of committed people.”  

New Zealand Geographic has risen in prominence in recent years by focusing on long-form articles with extensive photographic coverage even as other outlets tend toward shorter form stories and compact formats. Recently the magazine ran a 13,000-word story over nearly 40 pages on the journey for the Tuhoe people toward self-determination. It’s a feature that may be considered of niche interest, but the issue chalked up the magazine’s best sales in more than five years.

“It was an important story that reflected substantial changes in New Zealand society,” says Frankham. “We thought it needed to be told in a way that did justice to a 118-year struggle that has in some ways defined the relationship between Maori and Pakeha.”

The annual New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition attracted more than 200,000 visitors to an exhibition at Auckland Museum last year, and with books, new magazine titles in development and burgeoning digital offerings, Frankham says “it seems the death of print is working out pretty well for us”. 

White’s Wolfson fellowship is a well-deserved accolade for his year’s work, but it also recognises a decade of award-winning journalism for North & South, including two Canon/Qantas Magazine feature writer of the year wins, and a Cathay Pacific travel writer of the year award, among a swag of prizes for his feature stories, ranging from travel and the arts to crime and justice.

White’s long career in journalism includes working in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey as a freelance writer for New Zealand, Australian and Asian publications. For the United Nations Integrated Regional Informations Networks he made two month-long trips to Iraq, the first during the American-led invasion in April 2003, the second during December 2003, reporting on humanitarian issues for the UN.

Design judge Gideon Keith described Home as “confident and slick… head and shoulders above the rest… its relevance to the audience is pitch perfect”.; North & South editor Virginia Larson won editorial writer of the year and editor-at-large Donna Chisholm for lifestyle. Metro contributing writer Duncan Greive collected the award for sport. 

As for the lifetime achievement awards, the ‘Rupert Murdoch of the South’, Allied Press’ Sir Julian Smith, past Dominion Post editor, recent News Works chair and current chief executive of Seafood New Zealand Tim Pankhurst, and Paul Holmes were all honoured for their contributions to print media over the years. 

The winners

Canon Newspaper of the Year

The New Zealand Herald

Newspaper of the Year (over 30,000 circulation)

The New Zealand Herald

Newspaper of the Year (up to 30,000 circulation)

Bay of Plenty Times

Weekly Newspaper of the Year

The Dominion Post Weekend

Community Newspaper of the Year

Kapi-Mana News

Best Newspaper Design

The New Zealand Herald

Best Newspaper Inserted Magazine

The Business – The New Zealand Herald

Senior Reporter of the Year

David Fisher – The New Zealand Herald

Junior Reporter of the Year

Sam Boyer – The Dominion Post

Reporter Science and Environment

Jamie Morton – The New Zealand Herald

Reporter Sport

Simon Plumb – Sunday Star Times

Reporter Politics

Phil Kitchin – The Dominion Post

Reporter Human Relations

Jared Savage – The New Zealand Herald

Reporter Business

Rob Stock – Sunday Star-Times

Reporter Arts & Entertainment

Seamus Boyer – The Dominion Post

Reporter Lifestyle

Bronwyn Torrie – The Dominion Post

Senior Newspaper Feature Writer of the Year

Adam Dudding – Sunday Star-Times

Junior Newspaper Feature Writer of the Year

Aimie Cronin – Waikato Times

Newspaper Feature Writer  Science and Environment

Rusell Blackstock – Herald on Sunday

Newspaper Feature Writer  Sport

Ben Stanley – Sunday Star-Times

Newspaper Feature Writer Politics

Tracy Watkins – The Dominion Post

Newspaper Feature Writer  Human Relations

Tony Wall – Sunday Star-Times

Newspaper Feature Writer  Business

Geoff Cumming – Weekend Herald

Newspaper Feature Writer  Arts and Entertainment

Catherine Woulfe – Sunday Magazine

Newspaper Feature Writer  Lifestyle

Aimie Cronin – Waikato Times




Best Newsstand Magazine

New Zealand Geographic

Best Trade or Professional Magazine

Young Country

Best Magazine Design


Magazine Feature Writer of the Year

Mike White – North & South

Magazine Feature Writer Business & Science

Rebecca Macfie – NZ Listener

Magazine Feature Writer Politics

Mike White – North & South

Magazine Feature Writer Arts and Entertainment

Mike White – North & South

Magazine Feature Writer Social Issues

Aaron Smale – Mana

Magazine Feature Writer  Sport

Duncan Greive – Metro

Magazine Feature Writer Lifestyle

Donna Chisholm – North & South




Best Website Breaking News Coverage

West Auckland tornado – The New Zealand Herald

Best Innovation in Multimedia Storytelling

The Press Zone Life

Best Innovation in New Technologies

The New Zealand Herald – windows 8 app

Best Website Community Interaction

Zone Life – The Press

Best News Site


Best Website


Best Video

Mike Scott – Waikato Times


Press Photographer of the Year – Senior

Stephen Parker – Rotorua Daily Post

Press Photographer of the Year – Junior

Emma Allen – The Marlborough Express

Best News picture

Kent Blechynden – The Dominion Post

Best Sports picture

Iain McGregor – The Press

Best Photo Essay or Slideshow

Richard Robinson – The New Zealand Herald

Best Feature Photo

Natasha Martin – Timaru Herald

Best Portrait

Robert Kitchin – Manuwatu Standard




Best Investigation

Phil Kitchin – The Dominion Post

Student Journalist of the Year

Jenna Lynch – Waikato Times

Best Artwork

Anna Crichton  NZ Herald, Metro

Cartoonist of the Year

Peter Broomhead – Herald on Sunday

Best Columnist

John Armstrong – NZ Herald

Editorial Writer of the Year

Virginia Larson – North & South

Best Headline

Jonathan Milne – Herald on Sunday

Reviewer of the Year

Diana Wichtel – NZ Listener

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