The New Zealand Herald

has won an international award for its multimedia investigation into the billion dollar hair trade.

Black Gold was a six-month investigation into the unregulated hair extension industry which exposed how human hair is being harvested from children in China and the unsavoury conditions of workers in Chinese hair factories.

Investigative reporter Olivia Carville and visual journalist Mike Scott spent two weeks in rural China documenting the hair trade and their multimedia project was published on the Herald website via the immersive storytelling platform, Shorthand.


Today it was announced that Black Gold was the overall winner of the Most Visually Compelling category of the inaugural Shorthand Awards, chosen from more than 100 entries worldwide.

Shorthand is a long-form digital platform used by media outlets around the world to publish rich content. Last year more than 1500 stories were published through Shorthand from news organisations such as the BBC, the Guardian, the Telegraph, theSydney Morning Herald and the Age.

Black Gold was the first Shorthand article published by the Herald and its video was viewed by more than 1.5 million people.

Read the full Black Gold investigation.

The judges commented on how the story's narrative "made powerful imagery the centrepiece of the story".

"Selective editing and real consideration for user experience is critical for successful long-form multimedia stories. Black Gold clearly put a lot of work into this," the judges said.

The Black Gold investigation, which was designed by the Herald's Paul Slater, was also featured on Buzzfeed's 'Top 12 Incredible Photo Stories You Absolutely Can't Miss' listicle, alongside the New York Times, the Washington Post and Reuters.

The project was funded by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.