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Transport researcher wins top journalism award

Auckland transport researcher beats redundancy with top journalism award

Auckland transport researcher Dr Chris Harris has won a top award for critical journalism just days before he is made redundant by the creation of the new Auckland super-city.

Dr Harris, whose job as North Shore City Council’s public transport coordinator ends when the super-city comes into being on November 1, has won the Bruce Jesson Foundation award for critical journalism. The award gives him $3000 to complete an analysis of New Zealand’s transport and planning policies in international perspective.

Jesson Foundation chair Professor Jane Kelsey announced the award at the foundation’s annual Bruce Jesson Lecture, delivered by lawyer Annette Sykes on “The Politics of the Brown Table”, at Auckland University tonight [6.30pm Wed 27 Oct].

“Chris Harris is one of the country’s leading transport thinkers and we are proud to make it possible for him to complete this work despite him being made redundant through the super-city process,” Professor Kelsey said.

The award has been given 2004 for “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”. Previous winners include investigative journalist Nicky Hager (2004), foreign correspondent Jon Stephenson (2005) and magazine editor Keith Mexsom, also for a project about Auckland transport issues (2008).

Professor Kelsey also announced tonight that this year’s $500 Bruce Jesson Emerging Journalist Award has gone to Radio Live journalist Ryan Bridge (22), for two investigative articles he wrote while a journalism student at Massey University in Wellington this year.

One of the stories, published in the Taranaki Daily News on June 4, broke the news that New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young had failed to disclose his directorship of Seaview Super Trustees Ltd to Parliament’s Registrar of Pecuniary Interests.

The second story, published in Citylife Porirua News on May 5, revealed shocking statistics about child health in Porirua, described in a confidential medical report as “the rheumatic fever capital of New Zealand”, and linked this to the fact that patients in Porirua were often charged more than $50 for an after-hours consultation – in contrast to free after-hours services for children in some low-income primary health organisations in Auckland.

Professor Kelsey said Bridge had made major contributions to public awareness on both these important issues. “New Zealand’s democracy depends on the hard work of journalists such as Ryan Bridge who recognise the issues that matter and pursue them,” she said. “We believe Ryan has an outstanding future ahead of him.”

ENDS

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