A post Stuff-Me media merger in one graph

One ominous graph and some stray thoughts on the Canon Media Awards nominations, out yesterday.

The Canon Media Awards nominations came out yesterday, celebrated in the customary style by our nation’s media outlets.

We spent a morning trying to disentangle the data and see what it all meant, but ended up exhausted and confused, so will instead content ourselves with one incredibly simple graph which may or may not mean anything.

Below is the awards divided into just two camps: the combined nominations for Fairfax-NZME, and the combined nominations for everyone else. It’s quite intense, when you look at it like that.

The data is not perfect: we valued all nominations equally, when some are clearly more important than others. We also elected to count nominees who were listed against multiple outlets in a category against each outlet, which skews the data somewhat, particularly around some Fairfax titles – which will frequently be both a regional newspaper (The Press) and stuff.co.nz.

Still, this happens in the smaller organisations too, and the sense of scale it gives is pretty imposing. Obviously, despite moves to transcend media and medium, these remain newspaper-descended awards – so there are a great many journalists in radio and television who don’t have a natural home here. And these are awards, so capricious and skewed and subject to all the odd contrivances all awards have always had.

But still: that’s a really, really big piece! It underscores what a vast and comprehensive entity the merged body would be. And despite the growth in resourcing for RNZ (21 nominations) and Newshub (four nominations), their dominance of our local online news market would be enormous.

So you can almost understand why the Commerce Commission is taking so very long to make its decision (it’s been delayed, again and again).


1. Kowhai Media are the per-head champs: Caveat: they live downstairs from us and are our mates, but still: 19 nominations from a staff of five-ish is ridiculously good.

2. Kirsty Johnston made up for her previous snub: zero nominations last year was indefensible. This year’s six, including some very big categories, more than makes up for it.

3. Steve Braunias is back, again: A quiet 2016 washed away by six more nominations this year. Pretty impressive, given he was eating Lincoln Rd and editing The Spinoff Review of Books at the same time.

4. Matt Nippert and Rebecca Macfie had great years and are chasing hard, with five a piece.

5. RNZ is starting to really motor: 21 nominations, including five for The Wireless, suggest they’re starting to really get the hang of visual mediums.

6. Feature writing has gotten huge: the creation of <2500-word and >2500-word categories has allowed a lot of newspaper features in, and a lot of new names – both very good things.

7. Magazines are under-represented, which, in passing, explains a bit of the Stuff-Me imbalance. As usual, almost no magazine photographers get a look in (despite magazines, think about it, being strongly photo-oriented). The are very few magazine writers in the short-form feature categories. And despite their long, proud records, for the second year in a row (!) both the Listener and Metro have missed out on noms for magazine of the year.

8. New platforms are starting to show through: while Stuff-Me dominate, this was a record for entries, and felt like a lot of new names and platforms too.

9. Men have a lot of opinions: 20 of the 27 opinion writing nominees are men, and so are all six nominees for reviewer of the year.

10. Journalism is doing alright: yes it’s on its knees financially and once mortal enemies are desperately trying merge and silicon valley stole our lunch and dinner money – but the actual craft is great. The Herald investigations unit is up for a tonne of awards, and Stuff Circuit, despite only being around for a few months, is also featured in multiple categories. Journalism helped buy a beach (not saying it was or wasn’t a good idea – but it did happen), change our trusts and likely our tax laws, cover earthquakes and water contamination, expose predatory behaviour by an insurance company – almost all without people paying for it. Almost justifies having a massive awards ceremony. Almost.

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