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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.

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

Making fun of TPP: National Cartoon Competition Launched

The 16th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations will be held in Auckland from 3-12 December, presumably at Sky City as that was the venue of the December 2010 round.
A Trans-Pacific Partnership Cartoon Competition has been launched to encourage the country’s satirists and graphic artists to engage creatively with the many issues. Continue reading Making fun of TPP: National Cartoon Competition Launched