The New Zealand Herald has dominated the annual Voyager Media Awards, winning the two biggest and highly contested titles - Website of the Year and Newspaper of the Year.
Judges described the NZ Herald as a "powerhouse news operation", as nzherald.co.nz also took out the rare digital double – Best News Website or App and the overall Website of the Year – after one of the biggest news years in New Zealand history.
The Herald's highly successful launch of Premium subscriptions was recognised, as was its digital storytelling: the Fighting the Demon documentary, which investigated the scourge of meth, was awarded Best Innovation in Digital Storytelling.
And the New Zealand Herald weekday newspaper was awarded Newspaper of the Year (more than 30,000 circulation) and the country's overall Voyager Newspaper of the Year – the 10th time in 13 years that Herald titles have won the big accolade.
Individual NZ Herald journalists were also honoured, including political editor Audrey Young, named political journalist of the year, Alan Gibson, judged photographer of the year, and Nicholas Jones, awarded feature-writer of the year.
For Website of the Year, the NZ Herald beat Stuff, Newsroom, Radio NZ and the Spinoff. "This was an incredibly strong field in 2019, but it was the Herald which impressed the judges most, owing to a bold strategy for expanding its audience and a powerhouse news operation that dominated the biggest moments of an eventful year," the Voyager judges said.
For Best News Website/App, nzherald.co.nz beat finalists Stuff, Radio NZ, and Newsroom. "There were several standout performers in a highly eventful year for New Zealand journalism, but it was the Herald website that led the way on the biggest stories, including the Christchurch mosque shooting. The Herald best captured the impact of the 'They Are Us' message on the Christchurch murders in a strong field."
The NZ Herald beat Christchurch's Press and Wellington's Dominion Post in the Newspaper of the Year (more than 30,000 circulation) category. "The New Zealand Herald delivered the most comprehensive and consistent daily paper in the country, highlighted by tight news writing, strong design and graphics and deft editorial judgment. The Herald is a substantial newspaper, and yet retains an engaging mix of light and shade. It reflects and dissects the nation's key stories better than any of its print competitors."
And for overall Voyager Newspaper of the Year, the judges said: "Ultimately, we could not look past the New Zealand Herald's consistency and comprehensiveness and its record of setting the news agenda with incisive daily journalism. The Herald is a strongly-edited paper with a depth of content that sets it apart."
As well as the award for Best Innovation in Digital Storytelling, the Fighting the Demon feature was runner-up for Best Editorial/Campaign.
The judges said: "This story was compelling right from the start. Using powerful video and excellent and easy to understand graphics along with incredible talent and readable but hard-hitting text the judges felt this entry was a stand-out winner. Raw and real, it held the viewer right to the end and the digital components were seamlessly interwoven into the story to add many layers to this excellent piece of journalism."
Several NZ Herald editorial staff were recognised.
NZ Herald reporters Jones and Emma Russell won the nib senior and junior health reporting scholarships respectively.
Russell was also named best social issues reporter. Waikato-based NZ Herald reporter Natalie Akoorie won the regional journalism scholarship.
Steve Braunias was winner of best general feature and Michelle Langstone won the award for best interview/profile.
Simon Wilson was runner-up opinion writer of the year and Kurt Bayer runner-up in best general reporting. The Weekend Herald was runner-up in Weekly Newspaper of the Year.
WATCH THE HERALD'S FIGHTING THE DEMON DOCUMENTARY - CLICK HERE
NZME managing editor Shayne Currie paid tribute to NZME newsrooms throughout the country.
"From the Christchurch mosque attacks to the tragedy of the Whakaari White Island eruption, and from the major sporting events to countless investigations and hard-hitting journalism, our reporters and teams have excelled. That's been further amplified with our relentlessly excellent coverage and analysis of the Covid-19 crisis."
Congratulating Voyager Media Award winners, NZME CEO Michael Boggs paid tribute to everyone involved in journalism throughout New Zealand.
"In these challenging times, Kiwis have turned to you in even greater numbers for clarity and understanding. You have stepped up to the challenge and delivered, regardless of where in New Zealand you work, or who you work for. You are doing our industry, your businesses, and yourselves proud."