On Friday night, journalists from around the country gathered to celebrate excellence in their practice – and there was plenty on show, with 355 finalists across 68 categories. The big winners on the night were The Weekend Herald and the New Zealand Herald's Matt Nippert.
The Weekend Herald’s stole the night for the second year in a row, continuing to show its strength as it was once again awarded Best Weekly Newspaper of the Year and Voyager Newspaper of the Year.
The two awards are among the 21 category wins picked up by the New Zealand Herald/NZME. Others included Best News Website or App for NZherald.co.nz and Best Team Video for ‘Under the Bridge’.
Meanwhile, Stuff walked away with 16 awards including Newspaper of the Year (up to 30,000 circulation) for the Waikato Times and Newspaper of the Year (more than 30,000 circulation) for The Press. It also received Website of the Year for Stuff.co.nz - a joint win with newcomer newsroom.co.nz.
Stuff’s editorial director Mark Stevens says he is thrilled by the Website of the Year win.
“It goes to show the hard work our journalists put into making Stuff the best possible news source for Kiwis is not going unnoticed.”
Another big win for Stuff was Best Team Investigation, which went to the Stuff Circuit team - made up of Paula Penfold, Toby Longbottom, Eugene Bingham and Phil Johnson - for their groundbreaking investigation, ‘The Valley’. The documentary series investigates the New Zealand Defence Force’s 2012 battle in Baghak – a valley in Afghanistan – that resulted in the deaths of two New Zealand soldiers. It features a virtual reality experience, six-part online documentary, prime-time broadcast documentary, a long-form read and an interactive website.
Stevens says ‘The Valley’ was the biggest project our Stuff Circuit team had undertaken.
“Their determination and dedication to bringing this important story to life, the story of New Zealand’s role in the war in Afghanistan, has been outstanding.”
Beyond newspapers, Magazine of the Year went to New Zealand Geographic for the second year in a row, while Best Magazine Design went to Metro.
“It proves that winning last year wasn’t a fluke,” joked publisher James Frankham. “It also suggests that the magazine is maintaining a really high editorial standard and continuing to develop.”
NZ Retail magazine and its website TheRegister.co.nz also took to the stage to receive Best Trade/Specialist Publication And/Or Website.
Looking at the individual awards, Editorial Executive of the Year went to New Zealand Herald editor Murray Kirkness. He took the stage before Matt Nippert went up to collect the coveted Wolfson Fellowship. The New Zealand Herald journalist also took home Best Business Journalist of the Year. The Wolfson Fellowship includes a grant to study abroad at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
This year’s wins follow a successful run for Nippert at the awards as he won Reporter of the Year in 2016 and 2017.
This year’s Reporter of the Year Award went to Newsroomco.nz’s Melanie Reid. She also took home the Best (single) News Story for ‘Politicians, Police and the Payout’, a story about the former MP Todd Barclay scandal.
Judges said Reid’s exposure of the cover-up to protect MP Todd Barclay is a fine example of patiently pursuing a story that needed to be told.
“It took three months to get the pivotal interview…The result was compelling, exclusive coverage that dominated the news at a crucial time in the election cycle.”
And beyond that piece of work, Reid’s entries were declared a ‘masterclass in journalism’ by the judges due to the breadth of her reporting in areas of politics, business and the courts.
Reid’s win sits alongside Newsroom.co.nz’s shared Website of the Year Award and its journalist Sasha Borissenko’s nib junior Health Journalism Scholarship win.
Other independents such as The Spinoff also made their mark at this year’s awards, taking away five wins including the Opinion Writing Business/Personal Finance category, won by editor Duncan Greive.
Now in its 45th year and in the first year of its new partnership with Voyager Internet, the annual awards introduced some new categories reflective of the changing media landscape. New digital and multimedia categories such as Best Innovation in Digital Storytelling was won by Rnz.co.nz for its 'NZ Wars: The Stories of Ruapekapeka' web-documentary, with Best Team News Video going to 1 News Now’s 'Edgecumbe’s poor flood defences' and Best Team Feature Video to the New Zealand Herald’s 'Under the Bridge' series.
Voyager Internet’s CEO, Seeby Woodhouse, said the awards night was a huge success and being part of celebrating and showcasing the great work of New Zealand journalists was inspiring.
“The quality of journalism that was highlighted tonight reflects the talent and drive New Zealand journalists have in abundance and that they deliver to the public day in day out.”
All winners can be seen here.