The entries for New Zealand’s Canon Media Awards are in, with numbers matching last year’s record-breaking crop.
Around 1600 entries – from photographers, reporters, columnists, newspaper editors and more – were submitted, despite a new rule barring entrants from putting forward the same piece in different categories.
“We had a bit of a blunderbuss approach going on, so we restricted the number of entries,” NZ Newspaper Publishers’ Association head Rick Neville said.
There were also changes this year to the website categories, with best news website and the overall best website award merged because of confusion.
“And, we brought in some new criteria which places a premium on self-generated content rather than aggregated content,” Mr Neville said.
“We felt we needed to get the judges to recognise and reward a website that creates its own content rather than just an aggregator.”
This year’s Canon Media Awards has a press freedom theme, following a tough year for journalistic freedom, especially overseas.
“That is resonating very strongly,” Mr Neville said.
“This really draws on the dreadful assaults on journalism and freedom of speech, and I suppose the most dramatic example of that was Charlie Hebdo.”
“We think it’s time for us to make as bold a statement as we can about the importance of journalistic free speech.”
There are 39 judges across four different countries, including News Corp Australia’s editorial director Campbell Reid, News and Fairfax veteran Gary Linnell, AAP head Tony Gillies, and, to judge the design categories, some London-based newspaper designers.
There were around 100 entries in the columnist sections, which have now been divided into serious columnists and humorous or satirical columnist categories. Photography sections also performed strongly with around 70 entries, and a new award for the best environmental photography.
“We’ve got a tremendous panel of judges,” Mr Neville said.
“The majority have a judging panel of two, which provides a more robust judging process, and reduces the opportunity for those who miss out to say the judge’s decision wasn’t objective.”
There were also more opportunities for regional and community journalists, who Mr Neville said occasionally felt it was hard to compete with the metro reporters at larger papers.
The winners will be announced on May 22, with a list of finalists expected to be released in April.
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