Magazine Media Awards 2016: NZ Geographic takes the top award, Shelley Ferguson barely leaves the stage and Bauer comes away the most award-studded

Last night, well-dressed folk from the magazine industry made their way (in freezing cold wind) to the Auckland War Memorial Museum to attend the 2016 Magazine Media Awards, where celebrations took place over a gala dinner to honour the best storytelling and management across print, online and events.

The event was hosted by rugby reporter Scotty Stevenson who took to the stage with poise and humour despite his revelation that he had to drive to Hamilton at 5am the following morning.

The Magazine Publishers Association’s (MPA) chair Paul Dykzeul was the next person on stage, speaking optimistically about the state of the industry and the quality of this year’s entries (which reportedly resulted in a few squabbles between judges over who should win).

There were 68 judges, along with judging convener Kim Mundell, who gave their time and shared expertise to help select the best of the best out of the entries.

Overall, 45 winners were named across a variety of brand platforms in editorial, commercial, creative and innovation categories, with ‘Magazine of the Year’ and ‘Editor of the Year’ being the most coveted awards.

New Zealand Geographic took out ‘Magazine of the Year’, with judges calling it a “national icon”, which was met with huge cheers from the audience. Out of the magazine’s team, editor James Frankham was the most animated in his excitement and jumped up onto his chair with arms splayed before taking to the stage, attempting to get his entire team up there with him. While onstage he admitted he’d written most of the preparation for his speech in the bathroom by scrawling notes on his palm in blue pen, which had understandably worn off due to the amount of clapping he had to do throughout the night. He emphasised how much of a team effort the award win was and paid homage to a few members in particular.  

Today, Frankham told StopPress he believes New Zealand Geographic won because it’s a magazine that really knows what it stands for.

“It has a long record of producing quality photography and quality photography and quality journalism … those strong values of the magazine have always been upheld.”

Over the magazine’s tenure, there’s only been three editors, he says. “In that respect, that’s where those values come through and it makes it easy to produce a high quality product off the back of so many high quality products that have been produced over 141 issues.”

He says the team is rapt to be recognised this year, even more so than other years, because of the changes the MPA has made to the awards. “[It’s now] a peer review process. So now if you win an award like this you didn’t just get lucky with a sympathetic judge, you really had to win it and your entry was going to be trawled over by some of the best publishers in the industry.”

Frankham says he and his team are enormously proud of the magazine and that extends to everybody that contributes to it.

“There is a sense of kaupapa and a mission around the whole project.”

‘Editor of the Year’ was awarded to Your Home and Garden’s Shelley Ferguson, who took to the stage multiple times throughout the night for various awards. In her speech she mentioned how she’d been working in magazines since she was 18 and though she’d attended many awards, she’d never won anything before. She acknowledged the changing landscape of magazines and said her editorial approach probably lent itself better to modern magazines, stretching over a variety of platforms, than it would if she had one print title to look after. She gave the crowd warm fuzzies when describing what magazines give to an audience, whether that’s a few minutes of peace, solitude or entertainment.

Lynley Belton was awarded the prestigious Magazine Media Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding contribution to the Industry. Belton’s career has traversed many aspects of Magazine Media and her passion for the industry has seen her be enormously generous with her expertise and time in industry bodies, including chairing the MPA Board twice. Her speech included a reference to the song Seasons of Love by Rent to illustrate the many minutes, hours, months and years she’d spent in media. Her speech also included a lot of humour (particularly when relaying the amount of coffee, and alcohol, she had consumed throughout her time in the industry) and was met with laughter and warm admiration from attendees.

‘Rising Star’, a new accolade in the line-up, was awarded to two finalists due to the high calibre of entries, with Rachel Ramsay (editor of New Zealand Weddings) and Kate Cameron (direct account manager of Woman’s Day) sharing the glory for excelling at covering both the commercial and editorial ends of the industry.

Bauer Media’s Your Home and Garden was awarded the new ‘Magazine 360 Brand Audience’ award, with the judges noting that “the entrants show a strong shift into digital in its broadest context”.

MPA Board Member and Tangible Media CEO John Baker agreed: “While print’s still really important to the relationship we have with our communities and our businesses, our ability to build media across multiple platforms is now our future.”

New Zealand Weddings, New Zealand Geographic, Dish, NZ Marketing/StopPress and Woman’s Day came out on top in their respective ‘Best Magazine’ categories, while Jo McCarroll (NZ Gardener), Virginia Larson (North & South), Shelley Ferguson (Your Home and Garden), Rebekah White (Pro Photographer) and Sido Kitchin (Woman’s Day) picked up the editorial awards in their respective categories.

The best journalist awards went to Aaron Smale (Mana), Donna Chisholm (New Zealand Listener/North & South), Sue Allison (NZ House & Garden), Damien Venuto (NZ Marketing/StopPress) and Suzanne McFadden (Australian Women’s Weekly).

The judges of the Best Journalist category summed up the overall sentiment of all involved in this year’s awards perfectly: “At a time when there is so much doom and gloom about journalism, we found it alive and well. There is a lot to celebrate.”

Dykzeul affirmed this opinion: “We have nothing to be embarrassed about, we are very, very good at producing magazines in this country.”

Each of the awards were met with partisan cheers from the crowd, which was particularly noisy this year (especially the Bauer crew), forcing Stevenson to have to sternly ‘sshh’ the audience a couple of times.

The sales teams, who make the production of magazines possible, also received a nod with Rebecca Knight (Australian Woman’s Weekly, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly and Your Home and Garden) and Vernene Medcalf (NZ Marketing/StopPress) taking out best magazine media salesperson in their respective categories.

Another important aspect of magazines are covers, as they’re what draw the reader to pick the publications up. Last night there were many stellar covers up for awards and we imagine it would have been very difficult for the judges to pick the stand-outs. In the end, the covers of New Zealand Gardener (April 2015), Metro (November 2015), Home (April/May 2016), NZ Marketing (July/August 2015) and Fashion Quarterly (August 2015) nabbed ‘Best Cover’ across five different categories.

After all the accolades were handed out, Bauer ended up with the biggest haul with 20 awards, followed by Tangible Media with 11, Kowhai Media with seven, Fairfax Media with three and Lifestyle Magazine and Kenyon Enterprises with one apiece.

To see the full list of winners, click here.

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