Category Archives: Awards

Levin journalist wins 2018 Bruce Jesson journalism award

Levin journalist Aaron Smale has won this year’s Bruce Jesson journalism award to fund research into abuse of patients at the former Lake Alice mental hospital near Marton.
Smale, a freelance journalist whose previous work on abuse at Lake Alice helped to put the wider issue of abuse of people in state care on the public agenda, receives a $4000 grant to fund further work on the issue.
The annual grant was established to honour journalist and politician Bruce Jesson,  who died in 1999. It funds “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”.
Bruce Jesson Foundation acting chair Simon Collins says Aaron Smale’s work, done mostly without secure employment but with a passionate commitment to social justice, is “exactly the sort of work that the Jesson Foundation exists to support”.
“This work would not be done without an independent source of funding for public-interest journalism,” he says.
“We are very grateful to everyone who has donated to the foundation over the past 18 years so that we can contribute in a small way towards funding Aaron’s important work.”
The foundation has given this year’s Emerging Journalist Award of $1000 for published work by a student journalist to Wellington journalist Meriana Johnsen for a story published in the Sunday Star-Times on police handling of suicide calls, written while she was a journalism student at Massey University.
Two other Massey students have been awarded special $500 highly commended awards: Amber Allott, for an investigation into reptile trading published in NZ Geographic magazine, and Anna Whyte, for an in-depth story on revenge porn published on the TVNZ website.
The awards are being announced at the annual Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture, which is being delivered at Auckland University at 6pm tonight by Monte Cecilia Housing Trust chief executive Bernie Smith.

Trust offers $4000 for critical journalism

The Bruce Jesson Foundation is offering up to $4000 this year to fund a piece of critical journalism that will contribute to serious public debate in an era of “fake news”.

The Foundation’s annual grants 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”.

Acting chair Simon Collins said applications for this year’s grant are now open, and close on Friday 14 September.

“Unlike other journalism awards, ours aim to pay upfront for journalism that would not be done otherwise,” he said.

“We are willing to pay for travel and other research costs, and for the time someone will need to produce a piece of serious journalism which is not ‘fake news’.

“Social media and the internet have made it possible for anyone in the world to produce journalism that contributes to public debate, but most people need to earn a living and don’t have the time to produce journalism that will uncover new facts or to do the research necessary to present a new, in-depth perspective on an important issue.

“We are not looking just for paid, professional journalists, because they are already paid to produce well-researched journalism.

“Rather, we are looking especially for people like Bruce Jesson, who produced critical books and articles analysing NZ society from the margins, driven by his passion to understand the world and to change it.”

Previous grants 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 in 2015 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.

No grants were awarded in 2016 or 2017, but the foundation is keen to find projects worth supporting this year. Applicants should submit an outline of their proposed project and explain how it meets the criteria set out on the Foundation website.

The foundation is also calling for nominations from tutors in NZ journalism courses for the $1000 Emerging Journalism Prize for “outstanding recent work by New Zealand print journalism students.”

Stories must have been published, in any form, between the closing date for last year’s awards, 29 September 2017, and this year’s closing date, 14 September 2018.

Last year’s award was won by a student at Massey University’s journalism course in Wellington, Baz Macdonald, for a story on how the benefit system’s rules have failed to keep up with the growing numbers of New Zealanders living in less formalised and more insecure relationships.

Applications and nominations can be submitted online through the Foundation website or to the Secretary, Bruce Jesson Foundation, c/- Politics & International Relations, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142.

Baz Macdonald wins the Bruce Jesson Emerging Journalism Award for investigative journalism for 2017

Baz won the Award for his story on how, with more New Zealanders entering into de facto relationships, the benefit system’s rules are struggling to keep up. This means some people may end being investigated for fraud.

The judges told Baz his article “was exactly the kind of critical, informed, analytical and creative writing – which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue – we want to foster.

“We hope this award may help in a small way to encourage you to keep on pursuing important public issues in your career in journalism.”

See here for more on the Award.

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.

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:

Entries open for 2015 Jesson journalism awards

Have you got a journalistic project that you want to complete, but can’t get enough money or time to do it?

If so, a Bruce Jesson journalism award may be able to help. Applications for the 2015 awards are now open, and close on Friday 18 September.

There are two awards, a senior one to fund a planned journalistic project and a journalism student award for work that has already been published.

The Senior Journalism Award is unique in New Zealand because it funds time and research costs of up to $4000 in advance for projects that could be newspaper or magazine articles, reports on the internet, books, films, radio or TV documentaries or “any other publication which is aimed at, and accessible by, the general public of New Zealand or any part of New Zealand”.

Projects 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”.

Past winners have included Nicky Hager, Max Rashbrooke and Rebecca Macfie for books; Jon Stephenson, Amy Richardson and Peter Malcouronne for magazine articles; Tina McIvor for a research report; and Alister Barry for his 2014 film on New Zealand’s climate change policies, Hot Air.

Applicants should submit an outline of their proposed project and explain how it meets the criteria set out here. It is usual to submit references and/or examples of previous work, and a budget for the project.

The 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, 26 Sept 2014, and this year’s closing date 18 Sept 2015.

Entries for both awards will be assessed by members of the Foundation’s Journalism Sub-committee: Geoff Kemp (convenor), Camille Guy, Joe Atkinson and Simon Collins.

Applications and nominations can be submitted online

2014 Bruce Jesson Awards

The Bruce Jesson Foundation has announced its 2014 Journalism Awards:

  • The Senior Journalism Award of $4000 for a proposed work of “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing that will contribute to public debate in NZ on an important issue or issues” was awarded to Max Rashbrooke for an e-book on wealth inequality in NZ;
  • The Emerging Journalism Award of $1000 for “outstanding published work of critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing by NZ print journalism students which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues” was awarded to Chloe Winter of Massey University, Wellington, for her article “War against killers we face at work“, published in the Herald on Sunday on 3 November 2013.