Fiji exposé website Newsroom wins three NZ journalism awards

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NZ's Voyager media awards ... small start-up websites score well again. Image: Voyager

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Journalists at Newsroom, the website that exposed environmental destruction by a Chinese property developer last month,  have won three reporting and writing honours at New Zeaand’s Voyager national media awards announced at the weekend.

The investigative work of Melanie Reid, who was one of three Newsroom editorial staff detained by Fiji police while doing the Malolo Island investigation, was also highlighted.

Reid and co-editor Mark Jennings were given a fourth, unofficial, “mock” award – the Frank Bainimarama Freedom of the Press Award – in recognition of their arrest and detention with cameraman Hayden Aull in Suva.

READ MORE: Full Voyager media awards list

Newsroom’s Eloise Gibson (from left), Melanie Reid and Teuila Fuatai took home Voyager awards for their journalism. Image: Newsroom/Voyager

Industry-wide, the major awards were dominated by Stuff, which won the top individual award for its editor Patrick Crewdson, newspaper of the year for the Sunday Star-Times and best news website for stuff.co.nz, reports Newsroom.

The Spinoff won website of the year, ahead of Stuff, the New Zealand Herald and Newsroom.

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Newsroom made 10 finals.

Melanie Reid’s title was for best general reporter, following her Reporter of the Year triumph a year ago, for exposing the sexual assaults and harassment at law firm Russell McVeagh, plus revelations over MP Jami-Lee Ross and animal cruelty by a Northland dairy farmer.

‘Extremely strong portfolio’
Judges commended Reid for “an extremely strong portfolio – three agenda setting stories that changed the legal and political landscapes and exposed farming malpractice”.

Eloise Gibson won for science and technology journalism for her investigation into the products and promises of the scientist/inventor Ray Avery — stories described by the judges as “a really unusual and exceptionally well done investigation that did exactly what the very best journalism is meant to do – hold the powerful to account.”

And Teuila Fuatai, now a freelancer, won best feature writer for crime and social issues, for work including an in-depth look at drug and alcohol courts.

The judges said her writing “carried a depth and quality that spoke to the reader in a way that was both compelling and insightful. Her work was well researched, balanced and distinctly showcased a journalist with a real passion for the craft.”

RNZ journalists won both Reporter of the Year (Phil Pennington) and junior reporter (Mackenzie Smith) and Charlie Mitchell of Stuff was feature writer of the year. Pennington’s work, often on Morning Report, included investigations into Middlemore Hospital.

Newshub’s Tova O’Brien, who broke the story of the leak of National Party leader Simon Bridges’ expenses which led to the bust-up with his former MP Jami-Lee Ross, was named political journalist of the year.

Newspaper categories
In the newspaper categories, the NZ Herald held off The Press to win best daily newspaper (more than 30,000 circulation category), but the Sunday Star-Times took out best newspaper front page, best weekly paper ahead of the Weekend Herald and ultimately the Voyager Newspaper of the Year.

The NZ Herald’s Nick Jones, a former Asia-Pacific Journalism journalist at AUT, won the award for best individual investigation and shared the title (with The Spinoff’s Madeleine Chapman) for best single story for his “exhaustive and compelling”  inquiry into the frailties and flaws of the rest home industry.

NZ Geographic won Magazine of the Year for the third consecutive year.

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