The role of agricultural and rural journalists is even more important now that fewer people have links to farming and rural New Zealand.
The best have been recognised in the annual Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ Awards.
Wellington-based Radio New Zealand Radio Rurals journalist took out the top award for agricultural journalists at the 2017 awards night for the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.
Alexa Cook won the supreme award, the Ministry for Primary Industries Rongo Award, which recognises excellence in agricultural journalism. She won the award for coverage of a week-long mustering in Muzzle Station, the first after the Kaikoura earthquake. Her items were featured on Morning Report, Checkpoint, and Insight programmes and on the Radio NZ website.
Rural New Zealand is very well served by specialist rural and farming publications but many of these are delivered free only to those on rural delivery postal routes.
Radio NZ, is broadcast nationwide with a big urban audience which means Alexa’s work has a broader reach in both town and country.
Runner-up in the MPI Rongo Award was The Dairy Exporter team of NZ Farm Life Media, for several features, particularly the Team Building feature.
Other award winners were:
- The AgResearch Science Writers Award, established to enhance standards of science writing, especially about pastoral agriculture, was won by Alexa Cook and Carol Stiles
- The Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award was won by Sally Rae of Oamaru, for articles which appeared in the Otago Daily Times
- The Federated Farmers Broadcast Journalism Award was won jointly by Carol Stiles and Alexa Cook
- The DairyNZ Dairy Industry Journalism Award which recognises the ability to communicate the complexities of the dairy industry, was won by Jackie Harrigan for articles in The Dairy Exporter.
- The inaugural Zespri Export Journalism Award, which recognises the vital importance of exports to the New Zealand economy, was won by Fairfax Media’s Gerard Hutching.
- The Alliance Group Ltd Red Meat Industry Journalism Award, which focuses on all aspects of the red meat industry was won by Alexa Cook, of RNZ Rural News
- The Beef + Lamb New Zealand News Award, which recognises excellence in hard news journalism, focusing on any aspect of the beef and sheep industry, was won by Nigel Stirling for articles in Farmers Weekly and NZX Agri’s Pulse, both on trade talks.
- The Federated Farmers Rural Photography Award was won by Des Williams, for a photo which appeared in Shearing magazine.
- The inaugural Rural Women New Zealand Rural Connectivity Award, recognising the importance of connectivity to rural communities and agri-businesses in rural areas, was won by Alexa Cook.
- The Guild’s own award – the Agricultural Journalism Encouragement Award – is designed to encourage and recognise excellence among journalists with three or less years reporting on agricultural issues. This year, it was won by Brittany Pickett, of Invercargill, for articles which appeared in the NZ Farmer.
The ODT covers Sally’s Rae award here.