Voyager Media Awards Finalist: RNZ, News Website of the Year

Media

The Voyager Media Awards were packed full of amazing, high-quality entries for 2021. From almost 1,500 submissions, 280 finalists were chosen across 66 awards. In this series, we highlight the finalists for this year’s Voyager News Website of the Year and Voyager Reporter of the Year.

We talked to RNZ about their nomination as a finalist for the News Website of the Year award.

What do the Voyager Media Awards mean to RNZ and why are they important for NZ media overall?

The Voyager Media Awards are a great recognition of the hard work done by journalists in newsrooms throughout New Zealand. In an unprecedented year of breaking news, especially covering a global pandemic, it is so important to acknowledge hard and important work. Many journalists have worked long hours covering complex stories during a time of unrest – reflecting on this and being congratulated is so meaningful.

Are there any standout pieces of work from 2020 that you’re particularly proud of featuring on the site?

We are so proud of our Covid-19 coverage. In 2020 RNZ came into its own as New Zealand’s most trusted media company. Amid a global pandemic and political unease around the world, our mission to connect and inform the people of Aotearoa was never more relevant. RNZ has the strongest level of public trust and the lowest level of mistrust when compared to all the media organisations in New Zealand measured by Colmar Brunton. It has never been more important for the people of Aotearoa to have a trusted, independent news service. We produce accurate and impartial news in a climate of censorship, populism and conspiracy theories.

Our more than 40 content partners recognise this, too, publishing our excellent journalism on their sites each day.

We take our charter obligation to serve the public interest seriously. During the Covid-19 outbreak, our team worked hard to keep the public of New Zealand informed and to hold those in power to account. We ran live rolling coverage of the pandemic and reshaped the way our homepage looked so important need-to-know information was clearly displayed. We employed a specialist journalist to answer questions, identify recurring themes and host live Q & A sessions with experts. We commissioned comment and analysis pieces and wrote comprehensive timelines and explainers. We established a conversational daily newsletter which gained an audience of 10,000 subscribers. We received heartfelt messages of thanks each day for the newsletter which really resonated with our audience.

As well as navigating the Covid-19 pandemic, RNZ.co.nz broke a number of important stories. RNZ uncovered that the SIS broke into the Indian High Commission for M16 and the Iranian Embassy for the CIA in the late 1980s and early 1990s to photograph code books, plant bugs and steal communications. Our investigations into the New Zealand First Foundation were agenda-setting, and so was our expose into the inhumane treatment of women prisoners.

We asked tough questions of those in power, scrutinised their decisions and canvassed other leaders for a wide range of views. We published facts, debunked conspiracy theories without amplifying them and shone a light on important issues. Our photography shone and was shared on the site and across our social platforms. One of our most read non-Covid stories was the candid feature our long form journalism executive editor wrote about her experience being filmed in a KMart changing cubicle.

What significance does being a finalist for News Website of the Year hold for RNZ?

We admire and respect the work done by our colleagues at NZME, Stuff and The Spinoff and it’s an honour to be a finalist in alongside them. Through our content sharing agreements, our journalism is featured on all the major news sites – being a finalist is wonderful recognition of the hard and important work we do each day as New Zealand’s public broadcaster and most trusted news organisation.

In such a competitive digital landscape, what would it mean for RNZ to win News Website of the Year?

A win would be wonderful recognition of the work we do at RNZ and a signal to our audience that our website publishes quality journalism, is innovative and informative.

Any other thoughts/comments you’d like to share regarding your nomination, the hard work of the RNZ team, or the NZ media in general?

During an unprecedented year, our team worked from home, jumped in to help when needed and made sure the journalism being published on the site was always in the interests of the public. We became closer as a team, though physically further apart, and being nominated as a finalist in this category is down to the hard work each member of the digital team undertook during a challenging time. We recognise our colleagues at other newsrooms throughout NZ would’ve faced the same challenges and we wish to congratulate them on their nomination.

Big congratulations to RNZ and all the other finalists for this year’s awards. The winners' ceremony is being held 28th May at the Auckland Town Hall.