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Media Peace Awards Presented

11 November 2004

Media Peace Awards Presented

The Media Peace Awards were presented in Auckland’s Maidment Theatre this evening at a ceremony M.C.d by John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld.

The Awards, now in their twenty first year, are organised by the Peace Foundation to recognise and reward journalists and others working in the media who use their skills and opportunities to 'shed light rather than heat' on violent, difficult and contentious issues. The Peace Foundation's Director, Marion Hancock, says "Given the current international situation it is particularly vital that people working in the media recognise the crucial role that the media does play in shaping the public's understanding of issues and events and strive to fulfill their role as conscientiously and rigourously as they possibly can"

The finalists’ entries in the Media Peace Awards have again addressed a diverse range of topics. From the story of two Cambodian refugees to young people in gangs, from Treaty settlements to the legacy from nuclear testing. “Entries this year have certainly covered a wide range of issues and that’s what the Awards are about - peace in all its aspects” said Ms. Hancock.

The Rangatahi section, for media students, once again accounted for a third of the 89 entries and the judges were impressed by their calibre. Judging convenor for this category, Stephen Stehlin commented that “Overall standards have improved and the wealth of stand out entries made judging difficult at times”.

The Rangatahi Print section was won by Matt Nippert, who was an AUT student, for his article about penal reform and tougher sentencing ‘When the Human Zoo Outgrows it’s Cages’, published in the NZ Herald. Muy-Cheng Lov, also from AUT, won the radio section for ‘Fight or Flight: A Journey to Freedom’ which told the story of her parents’ flight from Cambodia. The Film/TV section for students was won by Janna Sicely from UNITEC, for ‘Alexander’ - a powerful study of a family coping with a child severely disabled by autism.

In the media professional’s section the print judges, convened by Jim Tully, Head of the Canterbury School of Journalism, described the entries as "The strongest they had seen for a number of years". North and South continued its excellent record in the Print category with Peta Carey winning with her entry - ‘Guardian Angels’ which, the judges said, ‘”Told the story of Guardians of Fiordland, a little-known group who have resolved division over the future of their marine environment without any government agency involvement. This tale of conciliation managed from within the community, voluntarily and amicably holds lessons for the upcoming debate over our Ocean's Policy”. North and South have now won 7 of the 21 Premier Print Awards over the years.

In the radio category there was a joint Premier Award. It was shared by Phil Smith of National Radio for his programme ‘The Gujarat Experiment’ which the judges described as a remarkable programme describing the rise of an extreme Hindu nationalist government in the Indian state of Gujarat and Keith Richard and Paul Brook for Fatal Legacy - a Nuclear Story.
'Fatal Legacy' aired on Star FM Wanganui. The Wellington based judges said it “carefully and potently explores the mostly hidden history of New Zealand’s involvement with nuclear weapons testing, through interviews with eye-witness members of our armed forces. A staggering series of cover-ups, blunders and instances of sheer ignorance are described in a gripping and wholly convincing way, building a story which remains vitally important and relevant today”.

The TV/Film honours went to Jane Reeves and Kiwa Productions for ‘Gang Kids’, which screened on TV3. The Auckland based judging panel were impressed by the rapport the filmmakers had with their subjects and by the honest and moving way the young people talked about how growing up in a gang shaped their lives and continued to shape the choices they make today.

A Special Achievement Award was given to Access Radio/Planet FM in recognition of the enormous contribution that it had made over its 17 year history to giving a voice to the many diverse cultures, ethnicities and belief systems which make up the city of Auckland now.

The Peace Foundation says it is very pleased by the way the mana and prestige of the Media Peace Awards have been steadily growing over the years. “It is all too easy to level criticisms at the media sometimes for their poor handling of sensitive and contentious issues that leads to plenty of heat but very little light being shed” said Ms. Hancock. “However, it’s very important that we recognise and encourage the excellent work that is being done by a good number of people working in the media. And it’s very encouraging to see the value that is placed on these Awards now by media professionals and students”.


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