New Zealand’s top news editors cast their predictions for this year’s biggest news stories still to come

The names of more than 280 finalists in the 2019 Voyager Media Awards have been released today after weeks of judging nearly 2000 entries. The awards celebrate the work of digital, print and broadcasting journalists in 2018, a year that saw everything from back-to-back cyclones and Meghan and Harry’s tour of New Zealand to the Thai cave rescue and the birth of the Prime Minister’s daughter.

More than 70 judges based in nine countries selected winners and finalists from thousands of pieces of work including breaking news stories, editorial campaigns by media organisations, documentaries, websites, features, reviews, photographs, videos, newspapers, magazines and specialist publications.

The award’s naming sponsor, Voyager Internet, spoke to the editors of some of this year’s nominated publications and online media sites, asking for their take on what issues they think will dominate NZ news over the next 12 months.

One of New Zealand’s newest and fastest growing online news mediums, The Spinoff, has 15 nominations under its belt for this year’s media awards, following their three wins in 2018. Managing Editor for The Spinoff, Duncan Greive, noted KiwiBuild’s progress and drug law reform as two of the top local issues we can expect to see in Kiwi news in 2019, as well as the political response to climate change and tax off the back of the working group’s report. Duncan said: “All these issues are tied together by having as much of a generational divide as a traditional left-right divide. How the business community, the National party, and the coalition comport themselves along those fault lines - whether they can formulate a coherent response or break apart - will have a huge impact on the 2020 election.”

Shayne Currie is Managing Editor for NZME’s Newstalk ZB, Radio Sport, The NZ Herald, as well as other regional and community news brands. NZME claimed a total of 22 winners at the 2018 Voyager Media Awards, this year they hope to beat that with 56 nominations. Commenting on international affairs over the next year, Shayne said: “The political landscape - internationally, nationally, and locally - remains dynamic at best and dangerous at worst, with Donald Trump’s US presidency and the Brexit omnishambles in the UK threatening to cause economic and trade disruption in this part of the world. At times, it feels we are one tweet away from a calamity.” Talking more locally about issues at home, Shayne quoted Auckland’s housing shortage, transport woes and environmental issues such as water quality will be at the heart of the upcoming election debate.

It wouldn’t be NZ news without mentioning sport, and Shayne highlights what a year 2019 will be for our New Zealand national teams: “Four years ago, the All Blacks, Black Caps and Silver Ferns all made their respective World Cup finals. All three teams face huge challenges to achieve the same feat again - several Northern Hemisphere rugby teams are now arguably on a par with the All Blacks, while the Black Caps and Silver Ferns will need far more consistency on the global stage. Expect the Rugby World Cup, Netball World Cup and Cricket World Cup to dominate New Zealand headlines for weeks.”

Independent online news site Newsroom’s Managing Editor, Bernard Hickey, followed a similar suit, quoting KiwiBuild and house prices as top news items for 2019, and raising the question of what a potential Zero Carbon Act policy might look like. Overseas, Bernard said: “the focus will be on Brexit, whether Donald Trump is forced to resign or face indictment or impeachment, and whether the world’s powers can agree on limiting climate change and its effects.” Last year Newsroom’s Melanie Reid won the prestigious Reporter of the Year award, as well as the site jointly winning Website of the Year with Stuff. This year is another promising one for Newsroom, with 12 nominations.

This is the second year New Zealand internet company, Voyager, has sponsored the awards. Voyager founder, Kiwi entrepreneur and technology enthusiast Seeby Woodhouse, is a keen consumer of New Zealand and World news, regularly attending digital conferences both in New Zealand and in the US. Commenting on the news landscape for 2019, Seeby said: “Although Trump and Brexit are dominating the news cycles and creating general geopolitical instability in areas such as Trade, I see the bigger issue as the underlying stress in the US and Eurozone economies, with the US relying on endless money printing to keep things ticking over. I see a serious global economic downturn along the lines of the GFC in the next 12-24 months. However, even another Global recession might look like the least of our problems should the effects of Climate Change really start to kick into high gear, as seems to be the trend. Climate change, ecological issues, and global resource shortages such as water may make for very challenging times ahead. On the plus side, technology is constantly moving faster and faster, and things such as AI, Quantum Computing, Artificial meat and exponentially reducing cost of sustainable energy provide hope that humanity can overcome our biggest challenges. As far as New Zealand is concerned, we will no doubt be debating the Capital gains tax, and our own environmental issues - such as Clean waterways, and the sale of our water rights to Chinese companies”.

For the full list of finalists and award criteria, please visit the Voyager Media Awards 2019 website.