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Critic Magazine Wins Student Media Awards

Critic Magazine Wins Student Media Awards

Critic cleaned up at the ASPA Awards last weekend in Auckland, taking home a swag of awards including Best Student Publication in New Zealand.

At the annual awards, which celebrate the 15 student magazines around the country, Critic took home Best Publication, Best Editorial Writer, Best Paid News Reporter, Best Illustrator, and Best Series.

The unanimous winner for 2010, Critic received the highest possible score from all judges. Critic was praised for being “The only magazine this year that didn’t just ask the audience to notice how smart it was; instead, it went out and proved it by doing smart, creative, interesting things.”

Critic’s editorial and feature writing was described as “stellar,” and one judge summed it up: “The clear winner lies in the following: an engaging and fantastically written feature about socially responsible investments was preceded by an article on Dunedin’s homeless that opened with the suggestion that Pam Corkery may have swallowed tampons to gain the confidence of gang members. Basically, the Editor knows what he’s doing, he knows who is audience is, and his contributors are good at their jobs.”

Editor Ben Thomson was also named Best Editorial Writer, despite the judges agreeing he isn’t actually that good at writing. Waikato Times Editor Bryce Johns said Thomson is “almost certainly not the best writer of my three finalists, but equally almost as certainly the most sure about what an editorial is for; and the best connected with his readership. [Thomson] picks subjects readers cares about, explains them well, and forces people to have an opinion – sometimes not one you’d expect them to have started with.”

Up-and-coming student media star Julia Hollingsworth was named Best Paid News Reporter after the ceremony, as the judging panel for that award had not come to a decision in time. 3 News Chief Mark Jennings cast the deciding vote.

Critic’s extensive coverage on the changing face of Scarfie culture in Dunedin was also recognised. Thomas Redford, Gregor Whyte, Rory MacDonald, Gala Hesson and Hollingsworth took home the award for Best Series. NZPA’s Kevin Norquay said the foursome’s “series on the sale of student pubs and whether Otago University was out to erase the hard-drinking Scarfie culture went well beyond the basic cover, examining the possibility Dunedin was going through a cultural shift and what this might mean. It canvassed the issue from several angles in a balanced way, and was well written and informative.”

The National Business Review’s Matt Nippert said, “With an equal mix of hard-nose news-breaks and a stroppiness that can only come from seasoned Scarfies, Critic delves into the heart of Otago University to ask whether their institution really cares about student culture. And they got answers. For digging deep with the Official Information Act, not taking official comment at face value, and never forgetting their readership, Critic can declare their paper 'best-educated'.”

Tom Garden was named Best Illustrator for his stunning work, which accompanies many of Critic’s feature articles. “Garden’s work shows versatility in mindset, consistency in visually answering the storyline, good composition and colour usage and versatility in stylistic approach.”

In addition to the first placings, Critic came close in other awards. In an extremely close call, Critic’s Political Cartoonist Edwin Oullette was narrowly beaten by Auckland’s Craccum. Bro Town’s Ant Sang said Oulette showed “sharp humour on topical issues.”

Critic’s Facebook page was named second-best website. Kiwiblog’s David Farrar was initially sceptical of entering a Facebook page as a website, but said he found it the most effective site for interacting with students: the “key of online media.”

Thomson said the magazine’s success was due to the hard work and dedication of the staff and huge volunteer base who work tirelessly on Critic each week. “No one here takes themselves seriously, we’re all here to have fun and make a magazine that Otago students enjoy reading each week,” he said. “I’m really stoked to see that reflected in our success at these awards.”


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