Quality journalism is more important than ever. And tonight New Zealand's best journalists and news organisations are being recognised at the Voyager Media Awards.

The Christchurch mosque shootings, the eruption of Whakaari White Island, the SkyCity fire and the three sporting world cups were among the biggest stories of 2019.

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Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the usual black-tie event has been replaced by a live-stream. The online ceremony starts at 5pm.

After winning in 2019, the NZ Herald is defending the Newspaper of the Year (more than 30,0000 circulation) title.

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The Herald also hopes to claim the best news website or app award and website of the year.

'Fighting the demon', an investigation into New Zealand's meth crisis, by the Herald and Greenstone TV, and 'Road crash data' by Chris Knox of the Herald are up for best innovation in digital storytelling.

Feature writing finalists:

Steve Braunias and Simon Wilson are both in the running for best first-person essay or feature.

Braunias is a finalist for the feature writing general award along with Kim Knight of Canvas and the Herald, while Wilson also has been selected as a finalist for feature writer of the year short-form.

Herald reporter Michael Neilson and Samantha Olley, of the Rotorua Daily Post and Bay of Plenty Times are finalists for best junior feature writer.

New Zealand players applaud the fans after losing the Rugby World Cup 2019 semi-final to England. Photo / Getty Images
New Zealand players applaud the fans after losing the Rugby World Cup 2019 semi-final to England. Photo / Getty Images

Jared Savage is a finalist for the feature writing - crime and justice award.

David Fisher and Nicholas Jones are finalists for social issues, including health and education, feature writing.

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Jones, along with Dylan Cleaver, Phil Taylor and Michelle Langstone of the Herald and North & South/Bauer Media are also up for feature writer of the year (short-form).

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern edits the New Zealand Herald 125 years of suffrage edition with premium content editor Miriyana Alexander. Photo / Michael Craig
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern edits the New Zealand Herald 125 years of suffrage edition with premium content editor Miriyana Alexander. Photo / Michael Craig

General finalists

Rod Emmerson is looking to defend his title of cartoonist of the year again after bagging the award in 2019.

Warwick Church is a finalist of the best headline, caption or hook including social media award.

Richard Dale was in the running for best artwork/graphics including interaction/motion graphics.

Braunias and Langstone are also finalists in the best interview or profile award.

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White Island shortly after the eruption December 9, 2019. Photo / White Island Flights
White Island shortly after the eruption December 9, 2019. Photo / White Island Flights

Meanwhile, Wilson is in the running for opinion writer of the year after winning the award last year.

Herald health reporter Emma Russell is a finalist for the Peter M Acland Fellowship award.

Jesse Mulligan of Viva and the Herald is a finalist in the reviewer of the year award.

In the travel journalist of the year award, Greg Bruce and Knight of Canvas and the Herald have been selected as finalists.

Natalie Akoorie is one of the finalists for the regional journalism scholarship, sponsored by Google News Initiative.

Elsewhere, Miriyana Alexander is a finalist for editorial executive of the year alongside Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post editor Scott Inglis.

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Magazine finalists

Viva magazine is a finalist in the best magazine cover award.

OneRoof Property Report and the Herald's Travel are finalists for the best newspaper-inserted magazines.

nib health journalism scholarships

Russell, Akoorie and Jones, all finalists for other awards, are also finalists in the NIB health journalism scholarship division.

Russell is a finalist in the junior division, meanwhile, Akoorie and Jones are finalists in the senior division.

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Newspapers

The overall Newspaper of the year will be announced tonight.

The Herald is a finalist of the newspaper of the year more than 30,000 circulation award. The Weekend Herald is up for weekly newspaper of the year.

Meanwhile, the Herald and Herald on Sunday are finalists for the best newspaper front page award.

Kāpiti News, owned by NZME, is up for community newspaper of the year and Hawke's Bay Today, also owned by NZME, was a finalist for newspaper of the year up to 30,000 circulation.

The SkyCity Convention Centre in October 2019. Photo / Dean Purcell
The SkyCity Convention Centre in October 2019. Photo / Dean Purcell
Heavy aerial appliances with high ladders were needed immediately to stop the fire spreading. Only one was available in the first two hours. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Heavy aerial appliances with high ladders were needed immediately to stop the fire spreading. Only one was available in the first two hours. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Photography finalists

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Alan Gibson and Dean Purcell of the Herald are both finalists in the photographer of the year award.

Tim Cuff, of the Herald and NZ Geographic/Kōwhai Publishing, is in the running for best photo-story/essay.

Reporting finalists

Kurt Bayer, Ben Leahy and Georgina Cambell of the Herald are all finalists for general reporting this year.

In the crime and justice reporting award, Kirsty Johnston, Anna Leask, Carolyne Meng-Yee, and Savage are finalists.

Johnston and Russell are also finalists in the social issues, including health and education, reporting award.

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Shilo Kino, of NZME's Local Focus/Very Nice Productions, is a finalist for Māori affairs reporting.

Meanwhile, Jamie Morton and Jones are both finalists in the science journalism award which was sponsored by the Science Media Centre.

Best individual investigation, for which the winner receives a $5000 scholarship from E Tū, finalists include Melissa Nightingale and Emma Russell.

The Herald is also up for best team investigation for its work on 'Fighting the Demon: NZ's meth crisis'.

Leask is also in the running for best single news story/scoop.

Thousands of people attended the March For Love tribute in Christchurch after the terror attack in March. Photo / Alan Gibson
Thousands of people attended the March For Love tribute in Christchurch after the terror attack in March. Photo / Alan Gibson

Elsewhere, the Herald and Newstalk ZB's coverage of the SkyCity Convention Centre Fire is a finalist for the best coverage of a major news event award.

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'Fair Care', 'Fighting the Demon' by the Herald were up for best editorial campaign or project, alongside 'Build The Road' by the Horowhenua Chronicle, which was owned by NZME.

Russell is a finalist for best reporter junior and Kim Moodie, also of the Herald, is up for student journalist of the year. Akoorie is in the running for regional journalist of the year.

Sadie Beckman of the Horowhenua Chronicle and Laurliee McMichael of the Taupō & Tūrangi Weekender are finalists of the community journalist of the year award.

Michael Burgess and Cleaver are finalists for the sports journalist of the year award.

Matt Nippert is a finalist for the business journalist of the year award.

Audrey Young and Fisher were in the running for political journalist of the year.

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Video journalism and broadcasting finalists

Mike Scott is up for single video journalist for best feature or current affairs video for his work on 'Children of Meth'. Scott is also in the running for video journalist of the year.

Augusto and NZ Herald online are up for best TV/video documentary for 'Jessica's Tree'.

Nathan Morton of Local Focus/Very Nice Productions is a finalist for best video journalist junior.

Meanwhile, Local Focus, NZME, and Very Nice Productions with Patrick O'Sullivan are a finalist for best TV/video news item.