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Biosecurity’s media profile continues to rise

Biosecurity’s media profile continues to rise

The inaugural Protect New Zealand Biosecurity Journalism Award will be presented to journalist Margot Butcher at an awards function in Wellington tonight, for her feature “A Bug’s Life” published in North & South magazine in May.

Certificates of Special Mention went to Jerome Cvitanovich for a RNZ radio item on varroa, Don Carson for a No. 8 Wired television item on webworm and Ruby Andrew for a feature on quarantine measures for grapegrowers.

“This has been a record year for entries to the awards run by the Guild of Agricultural Journalists and we are pleased to be able to take part in this event for the first time,” said Barry O’Neil, Group Director of MAF Biosecurity - the Award’s sponsor.

Mr O’Neil said the winning entry deserved recognition as a balanced and quality overview of biosecurity issues and had set a “healthy journalistic benchmark”.

“Sponsoring such an award was a new initiative for us and the overall results were encouraging. As announced in August we supported the Award in direct recognition of the increased quantity of media coverage biosecurity continues to receive, and in the interests of providing an opportunity to promote some form of independent feedback to that.”

The independent judging panel consisted of John Hellström (Chair of the Biosecurity Council), Steve Thompson (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of New Zealand) and Harry Broad (Senior Issues Manager with the Department of Conservation).

Entries were received from journalists in Auckland, Central Otago, Dunedin, Gisborne, Hamilton, Napier, New Plymouth and Wellington. The main criteria used by judges were to assess the degree of understanding brought to an otherwise complex topic, the clarity of context (background and supporting information) and elements of questioning beyond the actual event or issue.

The Guild's awards have been a feature of its activities since it was established in 1955. The awards presented at the AGM now number seven, including the BNZ Farm Business and Rongo Awards, HortResearch Journalism Award, Meat & Wool Innovation Sheep Technology Award, AgResearch Science Writers Award and the Wrightson Agribusiness Award.

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