Gulf News journalist on the honours board

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Former Gulf News journalist and Waiheke Weekender feature writer Julianne Evans was awarded the best senior feature and lifestyle writer in this year’s New Zealand Community Newspaper Association’s annual awards in Rotorua last weekend.
Judge Jim Tully said Julianne’s work combined interesting content and evocative writing in a portfolio that was “diverse, well-researched, fluently written and a pleasure to read”.
Julianne wrote features and a fortnightly column for the island’s lifestyle publication from its inception in 2009.
until she left to take up a position at the University of Auckland earlier this year.
The Waiheke Weekender was also awarded ‘best front page’ for papers that featured island activist Susi Newborn and artist Denis O’Connor.
Gulf News was again a finalist in the annual competition for the best all-round newspaper under 15,000 circulation, having won the category for the previous three years.
“The lively debate and strong opinions voiced on its pages – including through its editorial – demonstrate this is a paper that is read and respected,” said judge Venetia Sherson.  “The design is out of kilter with most other newspapers but its content is clever, comprehensive and very commendable.”
The category was won by the Ensign in Gore which covers eastern and northern Southland and West Otago.
Ms Sherson commended its strong front pages backed up by good depth in reporting and “an excellent blend of hard news and feature stories, tightly edited and well displayed with strong use of pictures”.
Established in 1878, it is distributed to more than 12,000 homes on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The runner-up was the Whakatane Beacon, which was also commended for its inclusion of an editorial – a ‘dying beast in most community papers.” Ms Sherson said the paper showed experienced reporting and editorial direction.   “There is a good balance of civic affairs, crime and community stories that inform and entertain.”
The speaker lineup at the conference included representatives of both Fairfax and NZME – the most recent iteration of the New Zealand Herald stable.
The two international media organisations are positioning themselves for the controversial media merger that is now before the Commerce Commission.
Both companies pulled out of the independent community newspaper association with considerable acrimony in the mid-1990s, but there was little heat when the weekend’s speakers included NZME’s group general manager Chris Jagusch, who spoke on the convergence of print and radio and gave an overview of what NZME perceives as the trends.
Fairfax’s group editor Jeremy Rhees outlined the current push for participation in the Neighbourly web initiative which the company bought into in 2014. It was described at the time as a “long game” and is already the platform for online Fairfax community newspapers.
However, since the country’s independent community newspaper association now has 88 member titles, up from just under 40 four years ago, there was little dismay among the owners and editors of the country’s current local newspapers.
Industry figures show that 1.78 million people with an average age of 46 currently read community newspapers, 12 years younger than for dailies and aligned to the ‘millenials’ rather than older readers. • Liz Waters

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