Emerging Journalism Award for 2016 awarded for story on lack of home support for military

A student investigation exposing a lack of psychological support for Kiwi soldiers returning from war zones has won this year’s Bruce Jesson Emerging Journalism Award.

The investigation, published in the Dominion Post, was written by an American student at the Massey University journalism school in Wellington, Audrey Seaman.

She found that the NZ Defence Force offered only “one size fits all” support for returning military personnel, and failed to provide the extra support required by some who served in active war zones such as Iraq.

One returning soldier, Major Terry Johanson, now a lecturer in Massey University’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies, said he was an “animal” when he returned from a dangerous deployment in Afghanistan.

“It wasn’t until his wife told him six months later that he still hadn’t really come home that he answered a follow-up psychological screening honestly and got help,” Seaman wrote.

The Bruce Jesson Foundation’s journalism awards subcommittee unanimously ranked Seaman’s story as the best entry for this year’s Emerging Journalism Award, worth $1000.

“She has uncovered an issue that has been generally ignored in the NZ media; she has found case studies that make a convincing case that current psychological support for people returning from war zones is inadequate; and she has balanced those cases with others suggesting that current support is sufficient,” the subcommittee said.

“The story engages the reader from the opening line quoting a soldier who returned from Afghanistan as an ‘animal’, and fully examines all the questions that line raises in the treader’s mind. “It is a valuable contribution to public debate and we hope it may encourage the Defence Force to improve support for returning military personnel in the future.”

The Bruce Jesson Foundation was formed to remember Auckland journalist and politician Bruce Jesson, who died in 1999.

The Emerging Journalism Award is granted annually to a journalism student. Entries must be submitted by late September each year through the head of a recognised NZ journalism school.

Audrey Seaman’s article is online here.

The press release can be downloaded here.

Waka Paddle to Gas Pedal: The First Century of Auckland Transport

From Waka Paddle to Gas Pedal
From Waka Paddle to Gas Pedal

Just published is Waka Paddle to Gas Pedal – The First Century of Auckland Transport by Keith Mexsom. The book’s inception was in a 2008 Bruce Jesson Award and it is now part one of a larger project.

Waka Paddle to Gas Pedal describes the evolution of Auckland’s transport systems in terms of the aspirations and activities of various businessmen, planners, engineers, and politicians and the ensuing success and failure of their enterprises between 1840 and 1940. The story tells of how national and local parochialism and the propensity for many Aucklanders to reap a harvest of capital gains by speculating in land have been responsible for the delay and failure of many transport initiatives.

Throughout history, the progress of nations has been driven by visionaries and their ambitions. But only those ambitions realised are remembered. The misses, even the near misses, are soon archived and forgotten.During the development of their various transport systems, there has been no lack of ambition expressed by Aucklanders struggling with the challenges of travelling and trading across their isthmus and beyond. Unfortunately for the present-day commuter and trader, and for reasons as diverse as the thousands of vehicles that now choke the City’s roads, precious few ambitions were realised. This is the story of those that succeeded, but mostly of those that failed, and how.

The study is intended to provide some explanation to those thousands of motorists who now crawl, seemingly forever, along Auckland’s roads; those with plenty of time to ask not only, ‘Why have I been here for so long?’ but also, ‘How did I get here?’

The book can be obtained from Amazon or Kobo. Further information is available on Keith Mexsom’s website.

Lisa Marriott to Deliver 2016 Bruce Jesson Lecture

The 2016 Bruce Jesson Lecture will be delivered by Lisa Marriott on 10th October and entitled

‘All New Zealanders are Equal, but some are more equal than others

Why are those less advantaged in New Zealand society treated differently from those who are in relatively privileged positions? Why are white-collar tax evaders treated differently to welfare fraudsters? This talk will consider circumstances where this occurs, aiming to highlight and challenge issues of equity, privilege, and the construction of crime and criminals in New Zealand.

The presentation will cover:

  • Investigation, prosecution and sentencing of tax evaders and welfare fraudsters;
  • The sentencing of serious white-collar financial crime;
  • The individual treatment of taxpayers and the collective treatment of welfare recipients;
  • Different treatments of debtors to the Crown (taxpayers, welfare recipients and students);
  • The introduction of legislation that provides for more punitive treatment for partners of welfare fraudsters than the partners of those engaging in other financial offending; and,
  • The preferential treatment of the wealthy in the tax system

Dr Lisa Marriott is an Associate Professor of Taxation at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Accounting and Commercial Law. Lisa’s research interests include social justice and inequality, and the behavioural impacts of taxation. Lisa has publications in a range of refereed journals and is the author of The Politics of Retirement Savings Taxation: A Trans-Tasman Perspective. Her work is interdisciplinary covering disciplines including sociology, political science and public policy. Lisa was awarded a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Grant to investigate the different treatments of tax evasion and welfare fraud in the New Zealand justice system. Lisa has worked in the private sector in the United Kingdom and in the public sector in New Zealand. For the past ten years, Lisa has worked in academia.

Monday 10th October, 6pm

Room G36, OGHLecTh, Old Government House (Building 401) View Map

Due to limited seating, REGISTRATION IS ENCOURAGED

We support independent & critical thinking

We need your help to continue our work

Our democracy depends on the talents and efforts of those relatively few journalists, commentators and outlets willing to challenge the status quo. Their work allows us to challenge the limits to political debate in New Zealand.

Bruce Jesson was one of New Zealand’s great thinkers, a social critic whose writing put the establishment and the then new breed of ’money men’ under the microscope as New Zealand went through convulsive change in the 1980s and 1990s. Yet Bruce was also welcome in board rooms and around council tables. His fine mind, his pragmatism and his collegial attitude endeared him to business leaders and politicians, even if he couldn’t be persuaded to credulously follow their short-sighted and sometimes damaging policies.

When he died the Bruce Jesson Foundation was established to celebrate his legacy and to promote activities that would generate critical, informed, analytical and creative contributions to political debate in New Zealand and about New Zealand.

In these days of weak traditional media this task is ever more critical.

That’s why we are inviting you to join us in helping apply intelligence where there is tabloidism, informed analysis where there is bigotry, reason where there is sensationalism, and substance where there is shallow, lazy thinking.

It’s critical that high quality journalism endures. We make grants every year to journalists who need support to undertake brave and important work, and awards to promising journalism students who are the profession’s future.

But, apart from royalties from a book of Bruce Jesson’s collected articles, the trust has always depended on donations. In the last few years those donations, at our annual lecture and otherwise, have barely covered the $4000 a year in journalism grants and awards (our accounts are available on the Charities Commission web site). We have used up most of the reserves that we built up in earlier years and we now need to develop a more sustainable system of ongoing donations that can keep the grants and awards going at least at their current level, and preferably increase them.

To continue and expand the Foundation’s activities your support is crucial. Without it our ongoing work is in jeopardy. By contributing to the Bruce Jesson Foundation you will help us continue our efforts. Small contributions are very welcome, especially regular ones.

Please become a supporter today by following this link to our

Contribution Page

Jesson Trust seeks alternative to ‘click-bait’

In today’s media world of celebrity and “click-bait”, the Bruce Jesson Journalism Grants are deliberately seeking something different.

The grants, now open for applications in their 13th year, aim to fund “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”.

In the past 12 years they have part-funded books on inequality, on New Zealand’s role in the US “war on terror”, and on the abdication of corporate and political responsibility that led to the deaths of 29 miners at Pike River.

They have helped to finance Jon Stephenson’s award-winning reporting from Iraq, a documentary on New Zealand’s climate change policies, investigative articles on rest homes, and a report on how the welfare system treats beneficiaries in domestic relationships.

The latest grants last year supported a new documentary on New Zealand’s role in the US-led global surveillance network, and a report on the feasibility of the Auckland Council adopting the Living Wage.

The grants are unique in New Zealand because they fund time and research costs of up to $4000 in advance.

Applications for the 2016 grants and student journalism prizes are now open, and close on Friday 9 September.

Grant applicants should submit an outline of their proposed project and explain how it meets the criteria set out the Jesson website www.brucejesson.com.

It is usual to submit references and/or examples of previous work, and a budget for the project.

The separate Emerging Journalism Prize for student journalists offers $1000 for “outstanding recent work by New Zealand print journalism students.” It is nominated by the heads of New Zealand journalism schools or journalism programme leaders for work by student journalists published between the closing date of last year’s award, 18 Sept 2015, and this year’s closing date 9 Sept 2016.

Entries for both awards will be assessed by members of the Bruce Jesson Foundation’s Journalism Sub-committee: Simon Collins (convenor), Joe Atkinson, Bryan Bruce, Geoff Kemp and Nicola Legat. The committee’s convenor my be contacted here.

Applications and nominations can be submitted online through the Jesson website or by mail.

Surveillance film and Living Wage report win 2015 Jesson awards

A documentary film about New Zealand’s role in the Five Eyes global surveillance network and a Living Wage feasibility report are the co-winners of this year’s senior Bruce Jesson Journalism Awards.

The awards, established in 2004 in honour of the journalist and politician Bruce Jesson who died in 1999, provide grants of up to $4000 in advance to complete works of “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism”.

This year the Bruce Jesson Foundation has awarded $3000 to Wellington-based Errol Wright and Abi King-Jones of CutCutCut Films for The 5th Eye, an investigation of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and its role in the global Five Eyes network,

The other $1000 goes to Auckland journalist and lawyer Catriona MacLennan for a report on the feasibility of adopting the living wage at Auckland Council.

The 5th Eye tells two stories in parallel – an investigation into the GCSB’s role in surveillance for the United States and its allies, and the 2008 break-in at the Waihopai spy base in Marlborough by three Catholic activists who successfully deflated a dome covering a satellite interception dish. Wright and King-Jones say the break-in was “a misadventure of sorts that saw the three almost fail in their mission through a series of mishaps and twists of fate”.

The footage was shot over the past seven years, and the Jesson grant will enable the film-makers to complete the edit in time for a 2016 release.

Catriona MacLennan’s report on the Living Wage aims to update a 2013 report on the feasibility of paying all Auckland Council workers and contractors at least the living wage – a pay rate high enough to support a couple with two children assuming that one parent works fulltime and one half-time. It is currently estimated to be $19.25 an hour. The minimum wage is $14.75 an hour.

In 2013 the council paid 1544 workers less than the living wage. At the same time it paid more than $100,000 to 1500 well-paid employees, a number that has risen to 1920 this year.

Wellington City Council has voted to support payment of a living wage both to contractors and employees but Auckland Council voted against a living wage.

In presenting Catriona MacLennan with her award, foundation chair Sir Edmund Thomas said he was well aware of her writings in the legal area and her journalism “invariably set the highest standard”.

The foundation has also given three Emerging Journalist Awards this year to journalism students, all from Massey University in Wellington. They are:

Rod Oram’s 2015 Bruce Jesson Lecture

On 14th October Rod Oram delivered the 2015 Bruce Jesson Lecture to an appreciative audience at the University of Auckland.

Addressing the future of business journalism in NZ, he identified the necessary starting point as grappling with the fundamental issues shaping our economy, and went on to outline how a new model for NZ business journalism would be built on three foundations: money, people and relationships.

A PDF version of the lecture can be downloaded here. A link to the video recording of the lecture will be posted as it becomes available.