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Tenancy law investigation wins 2022 Jesson journalism award

An investigation which exposed the failure of New Zealand’s regulation of rental housing has won this year’s Bruce Jesson Emerging Journalism Award.

Massey University journalism students Mary Argue, James Pocock and Lucy Revill found that many Wellington tenants living in clearly mouldy and sub-standard housing were unable to win cases against their landlords in the Tenancy Tribunal.

Although the law has required all private landlords to comply with “healthy home standards” for tenancies started or renewed from 1 July 2021, the investigation found that the tribunal and other government agencies have failed to enforce the standards.

The three students’ findings were published by Newsroom and Stuff on 9 May 2022 in a detailed and powerful article headed, “The mouldy misery of Wellington’s rental market.”

The story has won this year’s $1500 Emerging Journalism Award from the Bruce Jesson Foundation, a charitable trust incorporated in 2001 in memory of Auckland journalist Bruce Jesson, who died in 1999.

Foundation co-chairs Dr Maria Armoudian and Simon Collins said all trustees were “immensely impressed” by the students’ work.

“You combined personal stories with comprehensive research to produce a disturbing piece that cannot be ignored,” they told the students.

“This is exactly the kind of analytical and investigative journalism that we want to encourage because it has an impact and helps to build public pressure for action in an area where our society is failing badly.”

The Emerging Journalism Award, previously $1000, has been boosted to $1500 thanks to a gift from the Grace Memorial Trust in memory of Wellington peace campaigner and human rights advocate Diana Unwin.

The award is open to all journalism students, who must be nominated by journalism programme leaders, for published work of “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”.

This year’s winners will be announced tonight (18 Oct) at the annual Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture being delivered this year by Auckland University associate law professor Claire Charters on the topic, “Legal myth-takes and the Crown’s claim to sovereignty over Aotearoa/New Zealand: What are the implications for New Zealand’s constitution today?”

The Bruce Jesson Foundation also offers a senior journalism award of up to $4000 as advance funding for critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism on an important issue. No senior award has been made this year.

Media contacts:

Dr Maria Armoudian, Bruce Jesson Foundation co-chair, 027 777 9974
Simon Collins, Bruce Jesson Foundation co-chair, 021 901 036

The Bruce Jesson Foundation is reliant on your donations to fund its activities. You can donate using this link.

Claire Charters to deliver 2022 Jesson lecture

A senior legal expert is calling for a fundamental rethink of New Zealand’s constitution in the light of the “illegitimacy” of the British Crown’s claim to sovereignty over this country.

Associate Professor Claire Charters chaired the working group that produced the 2019 report He Puapua on possible strategies to implement Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

She will give this year’s Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture on Tuesday 18 October on the topic: “Legal Myth-takes and the Crown’s claim to sovereignty over Aotearoa/New Zealand: What are the implications for New Zealand’s constitution today?”

She will critically examine various legal narratives that attempt to explain, or refute, the Crown’s claim to sovereignty over Aotearoa/New Zealand under tikanga Māori, British and international law.

Exposing the conflicts between these narratives and the legal myths on which many of them rely, she will then consider their implications for New Zealand’s constitution today.

She will argue that redressing the basic illegality and illegitimacy of the Crown’s historical claim to sovereignty might require a fundamental rethinking of New Zealand’s constitution, and will offer some ideas inspired by international law and comparative constitutions.

Claire Charters is director of the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre for Indigenous Peoples and the Law in the law school at the University of Auckland and is a Royal Society of New Zealand Discovery Fellow (2019-24) investigating constitutional transformation to realise Māori aspirations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, drawing on lessons from around the globe including North and South America, the Pacific, Asia, Africa and northern Europe.

She has links to Ngāti Whakaue, Tūwharetoa, Ngā Puhi and Tainui and grew up in Rotorua, attending Rotorua Girls’ High School.

She has degrees from Otago, New York and Cambridge Universities and wrote her doctoral thesis at Cambridge on the legitimacy of indigenous peoples’ norms under international law.

From 2010 to 2013 she worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She was an adviser to the president of the United Nations General Assembly in 2016-17 and served as a trustee on the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples from 2014 to 2020.

The Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture has been delivered annually since the year 2000 in memory of the journalist and politician Bruce Jesson (1944-1999), whose books published over several decades analysed the capture of wealth and power in New Zealand by a small elite.

Claire Charters will deliver her lecture in the Old Government House lecture theatre on the main Princes St campus of the University of Auckland at 6pm on Tuesday 18 October. The event is free and open to the public.

You can register here.

Unique journalism award open for applications

A unique award fostering critical journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand is now open for applications.

The Bruce Jesson Journalism Award, unlike any other journalism award in this country, provides up to $4000 up-front to fund the time and resources required to produce journalistic work.

The work can be in any format but must be “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”.

The award, established in 2004, has helped some of the country’s leading freelance journalists such as Nicky Hager, Rebecca Macfie and Max Rashbrooke to write books and articles on critical social issues.

Last year’s award, for the first time, went to a mainstream media organisation with a grant to Stuff’s Northland reporter Denise Piper and photographer Jason Dorday to part-fund an investigation into whether we are doing enough to save our kauri trees from kauri dieback. Bruce Jesson Foundation co-chairs Maria Armoudian and Simon Collins said the grant reflected the dramatic changes that the internet has brought to the news media, forcing even commercial media to rely increasingly on public and donated funds to keep serious public journalism alive.

The foundation, founded in memory of Auckland journalist and writer Bruce Jesson who died in 1999, also offers an award of up to $1000 for published work by a New Zealand journalism student nominated by a journalism programme leader. This work must also be “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”. The increased value of this prize is possible thanks to the support of a gift from the Grace Memorial Trust in memory of Diana Unwin.

Applications for both of this year’s awards are now open and close on Friday 2 September.

Full criteria and details on how to apply are available on the Bruce Jesson Foundation website here & here.

Dr Maria Armoudian, co-chair: 027 777 9974
Simon Collins, co-chair: 021 901 036

www.brucejesson.com

2021 Senior Journalism Grant

The Bruce Jesson Foundation will part-fund a Stuff investigation into saving our kauri forests – a recognition that mainstream commercial media now need support to fund important public-interest journalism.

The planned five-part series by Stuff Northland reporter Denise Piper and photographer Jason Dorday will investigate whether we are doing enough to save the taonga of our kauri trees from kauri dieback.

The Bruce Jesson Foundation, founded in honour of journalist and politician Bruce Jesson who died in 1999, has given its annual senior journalism award for 2021 to fund $3500 in travel and accommodation costs for Piper and Dorday to visit endangered kauri forests and interview key experts.

Stuff will fund the two journalists’ salaries for the time they devote to the project, the costs of their equipment and production of their stories.

Bruce Jesson Foundation co-chairs Dr Maria Armoudian and Simon Collins said the foundation’s decision to back a project proposed by fulltime employees of a major corporate for the first time reflected dramatic changes in the economics of news media since the foundation was established in 2001.

“All our previous senior awards have been to freelancers who genuinely could not have done the work without our help,” they said.

“The original idea of the award was to honour Bruce Jesson by supporting journalists like him who wanted to investigate issues that would not be funded by the mainstream media. We expected awards to go to ’fringe’ journalists like Bruce himself, not to employees of the mainstream commercial media. To date that is exactly what we have done.

“But in the past two decades, the advertising that once funded our commercial news media has been largely lost to internet-based, non-news platforms such as Trade Me, Google and Facebook.

“The media companies are seeking to negotiate with Google and Facebook to recover some of that revenue, on the basis that the online platforms derive much of their revenue from links to the media companies’ free online content. But that will only be a partial solution.

“The government is also helping by providing $55m through NZ On Air over the next three years to fund journalism projects that ‘fill a public interest service and would otherwise be at risk or not produced without this fund’s support’.

“But it would be unthinkable for any democracy to leave the funding of public interest journalism solely to the government, which may be unlikely to fund projects critical of the government, or to commercial organisations, which may be unlikely to fund projects that won’t get enough ‘clicks’ to attract advertisers.

“Although we are tiny, with only up to $4000 available each year, we at the Bruce Jesson Foundation believe that our role is to offer another option for ‘critical, informed, analytical and creative’ journalism which neither the government nor commercial organisations are willing to fund.”

Armoudian and Collins said it was particularly pleasing that the foundation’s first award to journalists employed by a mainstream media company was going to Stuff, which has recently been bought out of corporate ownership and has adopted a charter and a “mission” “to help make Aotearoa a better place through independent journalism and innovative services that connect people and communities and underpin democracy”.

Every Stuff story online now includes a request for donations because “the way journalism is funded is changing and we need your help to sustain local newsrooms”.

“However, we have now decided that our awards will be open to journalists employed in any mainstream media company as well as to freelancers and anyone else proposing “critical, informed, analytical and creative” journalism on issues of public interest which can’t be funded from other sources,” Armoudian and Collins said.

The Foundation’s annual award of up to $1500 for published work by a student journalist is not being made this year.

The Bruce Jesson Foundation acknowledges the support from a gift by the Grace Memorial Trust in memory of Diana Unwin.

Unique journalism award open for applications

A unique award fostering critical journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand is now open for applications.
 
The Bruce Jesson Journalism Award, unlike any other journalism award in this country, provides up to $4000 up-front to fund the time and resources required to produce journalistic work.
 
The work can be in any format but must be “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”.
 
The Bruce Jesson Foundation, founded in memory of Auckland journalist and writer Bruce Jesson who died in 1999, also offers an award of up to $1500 for published work by a New Zealand journalism student nominated by a journalism programme leader. This work must also be “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”. The increased value of this prize is possible thanks to the support of a gift from the Grace Memorial Trust in memory of Diana Unwin.
 
Applications for both of this year’s awards are now open and close on Friday 17 September.
 
Full criteria and details on how to apply are available here.