About the awards
The Canon Media Awards are one of the most prestigious and highly regarded events on the New Zealand media calendar. They are held annually to encourage, showcase and acknowledge the best of New Zealand’s newspapers, magazines, and websites, as well as the work of reporters, feature writers, columnists, cartoonists, reviewers, photographers and videographers.
The awards are governed and managed by the Newspaper Publishers’ Association (NPA), the organisation representing the country’s daily and weekend newspapers, and their websites. With a history dating back over 40 years the awards continue to grow in both prominence and prestige. In 2016, they attracted more than 1600 entries encompassing more than 7000 individual pieces of work across 71 categories which were judged by 46 journalists from five countries.
The event has grown into a prestigious and formal black-tie evening, with more than 500 attendees, banquet table seating and a full three-course meal served.
The event itself is a defining night in the media industry and the nation’s only opportunity to truly celebrate outstanding work across newspaper, magazine and online news media landscapes.
The awards have one major naming rights sponsor – Canon New Zealand Limited, and a group of award sponsors. In 2016 these included Bauer Media Group, Norske Skog, Google, nib health funds, Seafood New Zealand, EY, ASB, NZ Cartoon Archive, Massey University Journalism School, Science Media Centre, Competenz, MOA Brewing Company, The Wine Portfolio and Te Papa.
The awards are open to all New Zealand mass-media publications including paid newspapers, community newspapers, magazines and news websites – and their individual staff and freelancers.
What have become known as the Canon Media Awards, recognising excellence in New Zealand journalism, have now been running for 41 years. They began as an idea developed by two Auckland Star news photographers, Fred Freeman and Gary Fearnley, who approached the Australian international airline, Qantas, for sponsorship for an annual news photography award.
The result was the creation of the Qantas Press Awards which started with news photography but within two years expanded to include cartooning and three years later reporting. The Qantas Awards were gradually developed to include all print journalism disciplines.
In 1993 the television industry asked to be included in the awards. The inclusion of television and radio categories required a name change for the awards and they became the Qantas Media Awards.
As the print and broadcasting industries developed so too did the awards and they were divided into separate entities: print and broadcasting. This was the structure of mainstream media awards in New Zealand until 2010 when, faced with the withdrawal of Qantas as key sponsor, the broadcasting awards lapsed due to lack of financial support.
The Newspaper Publishers’ Association took over running of the print media awards in December 2009 with the retirement of Barry and Carolyn Young. The following year, Qantas decided to withdraw from the print awards, posing a major challenge for the newspaper industry which was determined to keep the awards going. The then chief executive Tim Pankhurst made overtures to Canon which was already involved with the print journalism awards as sponsor of the news photography categories. Negotiations were successful and Canon took over naming rights sponsorship in 2010.
Over the years, the awards have evolved to include emerging branches of the media. All categories are reviewed on an annual basis, to ensure the awards keep in step with the rapid developments in the media world.