2015 Magazine Media Awards: NZ Life & Leisure takes top honour, Bauer lands biggest haul and Ben Fahy claims all the credit

Last night, laptops across the magazine industry were closed a little earlier than usual as journalists, publishers, editors and sales people headed to Shed 10 to attend the 2015 Magazine Media Awards to celebrate another year of storytelling across print, online and events.

TV reporter Samantha Hayes presented the event, setting a jovial mood and keeping the attendees relatively well-behaved (apart from a misplaced kiss from ICG’s Mike Hutcheson and a failed attempt from StopPress/NZ Marketing’s Vernene Medcalf).

The night started off with Magazine Publishers Association (MPA) chair Paul Dykzeul addressing the crowd, and speaking optimistically about the state of the industry.  

“I’ve never known a time in my career where we have such a rapidly and ever-evolving landscape,” he said. “That inevitably brings its challenges and at times, unquestionably leaves us a little breathless. But can I say to you unequivocally, I’ve never been more confident about our industry and our position in the media world.”

Following a review of the awards programme to better reflect the changing nature of the medium, 2015 saw a huge 37 percent increase in awards entries, which the judging panel eventually whittled down to 119 finalists.  

Of the 44 awards handed out across sales, editorial, photography, design, branding and innovation categories, the ‘Best Magazine’ and ‘Editor of the Year’ awards were again the most coveted. And this year, the former went to NZ Life & Leisure while the latter went to StopPress/NZ Marketing’s Ben Fahy (or draconian overlord, as we refer to him).

Of Fahy, the judges said: “For the last five years, this editor has built a huge following to become the leading voice in his industry. He’s fulfilling all that’s asked of the modern editor, working across multiple platforms in daily news, magazine features, bespoke events and data journalism – and all the while demonstrating huge commercial aptitude, creating saleable products where previously there have been none. In the words of his publisher this editor has won his readers’ interest like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball – and all of that in the category of B2B, which has frequently been dismissed as boring-to-boring. A well-deserved and inspiring winner of the Editor of the Year.” 

Commenting on NZ Life & Leisure’s win, the judges commended the publication for growing during a very challenging period in the industry.

“In a turbulent market, the best magazines demonstrated growth and resilience. Chief among them this year was Life & Leisure, a magazine that has chalked up muscular growth in both circulation and readership off an already large base. At the same time the production values remain lush, and the title remains true to its founding ideals. It’s a magazine that knows what it is, knows its market intimately, and represents the best commercial performance in the market.”

This growth was reflected in the most recent magazine readership figures, which showed NZ Life & Leisure’s readership lift by 13,000 readers year on year at a time when publications across the industry are struggling to hold onto print readers.

NZ Life & Leisure editor Kate Coughlan accepted the award, and spoke about the important role that her entire team played in producing the every edition of the magazine.

In contrast, Fahy took a very different approach jokingly claiming credit for absolutely everything produced on StopPress and NZ Marketing, before taking on a more serious tone and thanking his team, the MPA and the broader Tangible publishing group for their support.

New Zealand Weddings, Metro, Dish, NZ Marketing/StopPress and Woman’s Day came out on top in their respective ‘Best Magazine’ categories, while Leonie Hayden (Mana), Pamela Stirling (The New Zealand Listener), Lisa Morton (Dish), Ben Fahy (NZ Marketing/StopPress), Sarah Henry (Next) and Sido Kitchin (Woman’s Day) picked up the editorial awards in their respective categories.

The best journalist awards went to Matt Philp (Heritage New Zealand), Joanna Wane (North & South), Jeremey Hansen (Home), Jane Warwick (NZ Life & Leisure) and Suzanne McFadden (Australian Women’s Weekly); the best designers were Marc Backwell (Mana), Matt Moss (Idealog), Fiona Lascelles (Cuisine), Marc Backwell (Pro Photography), Yolanta Woldendorp (NZ Life & Leisure) and Mirella Monteiro (Woman’s Day); and the photography honours went to Carolyn Haslett (New Zealand Weddings) and Richard Robinson (New Zealand Geographic). 

Each of these awards announcements were saluted by partisan cheers from the impeccably dressed teams sitting at the round tables spread across the wide floor of the venue.   

The theme for this year’s event was origami, a nod to “paper’s infinite potential, demonstrating the ability for magazines to evolve towards multi-platform offerings that go well ‘beyond the page’”. And nowhere was this more evident than in the publishing innovation category, which was won by Idealog for its Pitch Circus initiative.

None of the magazines would have made it this far had it not been for the sales teams tirelessly jostling to get ads onto the pages and websites of the publications, and the standout sales people in the industry were also commended last night, with Alison Shrigley from NZ Gardener winning in the consumer category and the KiaOra team consisting of Stuart Dick, Matt Smith, Krista Rostenberg picking up the award in the current affairs and business category.

The cover also plays an important role in sales, capturing the attention of passersby and inviting them to enjoy the rich storytelling that lies within. And the effectiveness of a well-executed cover in moving the onlooker was evident last night in the oohs and ahhs that resonated around the room when the award-winning covers of Mana (consumer and special interest), Idealog (current affairs and business), Home (home and food), NZ Marketing (industry and trade), Next (lifestyle) and Cleo (mass market – women’s) appeared on screen.  

By the time all the awards had been handed out, Bauer had the biggest pile with 16, followed by Tangible Media on 13, Fairfax Magazines and Kowhai Media with six apiece, and Heritage New Zealand with one.       

Click here to see the full list of winners. 

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