Newsroom wins Story of the Year award

Melanie Reid’s major investigation into an attempted ‘uplift’ of a baby by Oranga Tamariki has been declared 2019’s best single news story at the Voyager Media Awards. 

The Newsroom campaign that followed that video story from Hawkes Bay Hospital in June 2019 also won the award for best editorial campaign by any newsroom.

Newsroom was runner-up for best news website, to, with the judges recognising Newsroom’s “impactful investigative reporting on stories of national importance”.

The NZ Herald won Newspaper of the Year, Guyon Espiner of RNZ the Reporter of the Year, Alan Gibson photographer of the year, Patrick Gower of Newshub best investigation and website of the year.

Newsroom won seven awards in total, the two above plus:

- Columnist of the Year: Emma Espiner

- Best personal essay: Tayi Tibble

- Best feature writing, general: Steve Braunias

- Student Journalist of the Year: Ashley Stanley

- Science Journalist of the Year: Eloise Gibson

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Newsroom journalists had been finalists in 21 categories for the awards.

Reid’s investigative story on the Hawkes Bay uplift, which was viewed on Newsroom and Stuff by more than half a million people, won story of the year from a strong field. The judges said: 

“Powerful is an over-used word, but it barely conveys the full import of a story that is at once compelling, horrifying and needed to be told. To do that, it needed an exceptionally tenacious journalist and in Melanie Reid the right mix of skills and humanity exposed the sorry secret saga of Oranga Tamariki uplifts and ensured the public and politicians could look away no longer. Head and shoulders above the rest, in what was a very strong category.”

Reid’s Newsroom Investigates stories had also won Best Current Affairs Programme at the separate, Huawei NZ TV Awards, for a portfolio that included the Oranga Tamariki story.

For the Voyager Media Awards prize for best editorial campaign, judges praised Newsroom’s months long campaign which led to four official inquiries and led to promised changes in Oranga Tamariki’s practices: 

“From the initial shocking footage that was obviously gathered after a long process of trust-building, through a series of well-considered, thought-provoking commentary pieces this campaign exposed the deeply-flawed and unjust one-sided process of the state uplifting new born babies from their parents. 

“Fighting for justice on behalf of those who cannot fight for themselves is a core responsibility of media and this is a shining example in a strong cluster of entries.” 

Melanie Reid wins best single news story at the Voyager Media Awards for her investigation into Oranga Tamariki uplifts. 

Of Espiner’s columns, the judge remarked: “Emma's portfolio stopped you dead in your tracks and made you think. She has a storyteller's ability not just to move the old narrative along, but to mirror a different reality some of us might not find so comfortable to see.  Emma is both deeply informed and beautifully skilled at expressing her perspective in a nuanced, lyrical way which could be heard and not just intellectually understood, but also viscerally felt.” 

Steve Braunias’ win for best general feature writing also won plaudits: “These two features, different but related, are each exceptionally good. The first gives readers a warm, vivid portrait of three literary personalities, two of them in conversation about their mentor, the late Frank Sargeson. The second, a thorough and revealing investigation that removes a stain on Sargeson's reputation, is an important contribution to New Zealand's cultural record. Both pieces are written in the lively, personable style this journalist has made his own.” 

Wellington writer Tayi Tibble wins best personal essay for her journey to Ihumātao.

A brilliant essay by Wellington writer Tayi Tibble on her journey to Ihumātao won her the prize for best personal essay from a star-studded field. “Tayi's unflinching self-reflection elevates an account of a visit to the Ihumatao protest into a powerful wake-up call to face our culture's defining issue, our own collective whakamā (shame). Her voice is vivid, intimate, and with just enough "gangster" mana to make us face some truths we might prefer not to see.  

Eloise Gibson won best science journalist for the second year in a row. The judge wrote: “In her entry, Eloise Gibson showed the ability to not only communicate well the complex science that lies beneath a seemingly simple environmental solution – plant more trees, but she also tackled the convoluted world of science funding and academic politics. She is not only a good writer and reporter but also an investigator with a very cool head - a rare talent.” 

And Ashley Stanley, who as a student journalist wrote for LockerRoom last year before joining the team in January, earned high praise for her “strong writing skills, a keen sense of news judgment and a terrific sympathy with her subjects. Her stories were highly readable and, best of all, appealing to a big audience.”

The full list of Voyager Media Awards winners is here.

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