Voyager Media Awards Finalist: Stuff, 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 Janine Fenwick, Deputy Editor at Stuff, about Stuff’s nomination as a finalist for the News Website of the Year award.

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

For us at Stuff, the Voyager Media Awards awards are a chance to reflect on what we’ve achieved and celebrate it together. For the media overall, a bit of healthy competition lifts standards across the board and reminds us that what we do really matters.

Awards are hard because I know everyone in our industry produces tremendous journalism, and it can be heartbreaking not to be acknowledged. So to anyone who missed out this year - your work matters and you’re doing awesome! 

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

Pulling together our entry this year was a nearly impossible task: the calibre of investigations, news breaks, podcasts, interactives, documentaries, newsletters and more was outstanding. But it would be impossible to talk about 2020 at Stuff without highlighting two key pieces of work:

Tā Mātou Pono: This investigation, led by Pou Tiaki Editor Carmen Parahi and Editorial Director Mark Stevens, fundamentally changed Stuff and the media landscape in New Zealand. Stuff is one of few media companies in the world, and the only news outlet in Aotearoa, to investigate its racism, publish the findings and apologise. The project and its outcome was confronting and emotionally charged for many of our team and the public. The emotional outpouring from readers and support from Māori across the country was remarkable. 

Covid-19 lockdown: All media companies produced creditable coverage of the daily Covid-19 news, but Stuff’s commitment to uniting Kiwis through assertive news-breaking, unparalleled live coverage, and innovative storytelling stood out. If I look back I nearly can’t believe the enormity of what we achieved. We live blogged for more than 200 days on coronavirus. Our daily newsletter is still going - over 370 days later. We produced podcasts from our bedrooms. We created a digital colouring book to distract isolated Kiwis. All while being isolated ourselves.

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

The award holds special significance because the mettle of NZ’s media industry was so brutally tested in 2021. I’m incredibly proud of the way our team operated during Covid-19 and its ongoing aftermath. Journalists always work hard, but I’ve never seen anything like the hours and effort amassed over lockdown. Naysayers said we wouldn’t last the year - but we made it through 2020 without losing staff, without compromising our values, all the while producing our best journalism ever. It’s wonderful to see that acknowledged.

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

To win News Website of the Year in our first year of New Zealand ownership would be extraordinary. Stuff emerged from 2020 virtually unrecognisable from where it began the year. We got a new homepage, a new charter, a new vision and mission. We refocused our entire business towards building public trust and a win would prove that we can care about each other, our planet, and our purpose, without compromising our product.

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