Chorus of trumpet blowing ensues after announcement of Qantas Media Awards

It‘s fairly standard practice for publishers to beat their editorial chests after the Qantas Media Awards are dished out. Of course, victory is always in the eye of the beholder (and, given the number of awards handed out and the size of the New Zealand market, there always seem to be plenty of beholders). But this year APN has nabbed the big ones: the Herald on Sunday was judged to be New Zealand’s Best Weekly and Best Overall newspaper for the second time in its five year history and The New Zealand Herald took the award as the country’s best daily newspaper. 

The Herald won best Front page and best Newspaper of the Year over 30,000 circulation, and Herald reporters Jared Savage and Vaimoana Tapaleao also picked up the senior and junior reporter of the year awards.

The awards for APN back up improving readership numbers for its titles. And the recent success of the tabloid (both in format and, increasingly, in content) Herald on Sunday is one of the most intriguing aspects of New Zealand’s print media landscape. The paper also won these two awards in 2008 and it seems to show that car crashes, celebrity scandals and maggots in burgers are becoming increasingly alluring to New Zealand readers.

Former Herald on Sunday editor Shayne Currie is now deputy editor at the New Zealand Herald (here’s a blog post featuring his parting editorial), and he certainly seems to have had an impact on the paper’s news direction since his arrival earlier this year (one almost wonders how long it will be before the page three girls are introduced).

Fairfax Media didn’t have a very good year in terms of awards won for its printed news titles, aside from community Newspaper of the Year, which went to The Wellingtonian. But group executive editor Paul Thompson says the awards did show off the “strong, original journalism across all levels, with finalist and winning entries from well known seniors to rising stars in almost all categories”. Thompson was particularly happy with Fairfax’s “exceptional performance in the multi-media field”.

For Fairfax, The Press journalists featured prominently, with Martin van Beynen taking Newspaper Story of the Year after expressing his belief in David Bain’s guilt and John McCrone and John Hartevelt winning the senior and junior Newspaper Feature Writer of the Year awards respectively. The Dom Post’s Vernon Small won the Investigative Reporting award for his coverage of Bill English’s Housing Allowance scandal and Derek Flynn and Blair Ensor from the Marlborough Express took both the senior and junior photographer awards.

Heading online, a little bit of confusion and controversy. According to nzherald.co.nz, the award for Best News Website was shared between itself and stuff.co.nz, as “the judges were unable to decide” between the two. But, hold the phone. APN didn’t share the Best News award. That was won by stuff.co.nz (and, apparently, it was the one Fairfax wanted to win anyway). The award that was shared between the two was the “highly commended” for Best Website, not for Best News Website.

Stuff.co.nz dominated the online news categories, taking best breaking news story, as well as the best online sport and business sections (and that’s even before the eight extra scribes from The Independent join the fray). Mike Scott from Taranaki Daily News won best Multi-Media/Video Presentation and Dom Post reporter Kerry Williamson picked up the Best Blog Award.

As far as the magazines go, Rob Fyfe will be pleased to know that Listener editor Pamela Stirling won the top individual honour, the Wolfson Fellowship to Cambridge University, as well as best editorial writer. The Listener nabbed a few others too, winning best magazine cover, best cartoonist (Chris Slane) and best columnist (Jane Clifton).

But Stirling didn’t get to claim the award for best News Stand Magazine. That honour went to NZ Rugby World (the other finalist was North & South), with the judges commenting that, under Gregor Paul’s editorship, it has raised the bar on what a specialist magazine can achieve.

“The magazine has both flair and reach. It serves its target readership well, but its entertaining writing, combative analysis, humour, clarity and intelligence make it an appealing package to a wider constituency.”

Metro’s Simon Wilson has had a good start to his tenure as editor: he was awarded magazine feature writer of the year. And Charlie McKay from Metro was chosen as the best magazine designer. Your Weekend, which features in The Press/The Dominion Post and the Waikato Times took the best Newspaper inserted magazine and CIO New Zealand was named best trade/professional magazine.

And you can check out the whole massive list of winners here.

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