For an unprecedented second straight year, the NZ Herald has snared the extraordinary "digital double", winning the supreme Website of the Year and App of the Year accolades at the annual Voyager Media Awards.
Judges acclaimed nzherald.co.nz "a clear winner" over fellow finalists RNZ, The Spinoff and Stuff to win the highly prestigious Website of the Year award after one of the biggest 12 months of news in modern history.
And the NZ Herald App was described as "world class", with judges saying the Herald's design and functionality, range of contributors and more consistent approach to a national audience gave it the prize over finalists the Eastern App and Stuff.
NZME's newspapers, magazines and individual journalists were also big winners at the Voyager Media Awards in a year when record audiences turned to trusted media sources for the latest developments and exclusive insights into the Covid pandemic.
The Herald's sister newspaper, the Rotorua Daily Post, was named Regional Newspaper of the Year and the Herald's Travel magazine was judged best newspaper magazine.
Investigative reporter Matt Nippert was named Political Journalist of the Year and runner-up Business Journalist of the Year; Nicholas Jones was Feature Writer of the Year, Kurt Bayer was named Best Regional Journalist, and Brett Phibbs was named Photographer of the Year.
"Winning Website of the Year is a massive achievement in any year – to win it this year, and for a second straight time, holds special significance," said NZME managing editor Shayne Currie.
"Our audiences have turned to us in record numbers over the past 18 months, seeking clarity and understanding of the Covid pandemic. Our journalists have worked extremely hard – from our newsrooms and their own living rooms and kitchens – to produce unrivalled, trusted, exclusive and innovative coverage and analysis of the pandemic and the country's response.
"This award recognises the world-class effort of our journalists and how hard the team stepped up to our mission and purpose, striving to keep 'Kiwis in the know'."
Bayer also won the best crime reporting category, while Tamsyn Parker won best personal finance reporting category and Tom Dillane the best general reporting category.
As well as the supreme photography prize, Phibbs won two photography categories – best news photography and best sports photography and was a runner-up for best photo story-essay.
Greg Bruce was named winner of the best feature writing – general category and Isaac Davison the runner-up of the best feature writing – social issues (including health and education) category.
The Northern Advocate was runner-up for best editorial campaign, with its Hidden Homeless series, and Hawke's Bay Today was runner-up for Regional Newspaper of the Year. The NZ Herald was runner-up for best newspaper front page.
Judges said the Rotorua Daily Post was "an absolute stand-out" for Regional Newspaper of the Year. "There is no doubt that local news remains at the heart of this publication."
Judges said the Herald's Travel magazine boasted "an admirable portfolio". "In a year where the very idea of travel was challenged, Travel magazine has forged a new identity showing New Zealanders the breadth of experiences in their own backyard. With inspiring imagery, meticulously-researched stories and helpful break-outs, it always puts the needs of its readers first."
During 2020, the Herald became the country's biggest and most popular news website, a position it has now held for nine consecutive months. The website now draws more than 1.73 million people a month – and the overall brand audience (print and digital) is at a record two million people each week.
Alongside that, the Herald's Premium digital subscription service is soaring beyond expectations.
"I'm incredibly proud of the great journalism our news teams constantly deliver for audiences and I congratulate all of our winners and finalists," said NZME CEO Michael Boggs.
"In addition, these awards can be celebrated by the development and support teams across the company. These teams deliver the support that allows NZME to deliver the best content, in a dynamic and interactive way across our awards winning digital platforms.
"As Chair of the News Publishers Association I'd like to also congratulate all of the finalists and winners from across our industry. Reflecting on the judge's comments, it is clear New Zealanders can have confidence that they are served by 'world-class' editorial teams who strive to deliver news, information, analysis, commentary, and entertainment that Kiwis can trust and have confidence in."