Massey students win journalism award – again


Bruce Jesson Emerging Journalism Award winner Meriama Johnsen and highly commended students Amber Allott and Anna Whyte.


For a sixth straight year, Massey postgraduate journalism students have won the country’s prestigious Bruce Jesson Emerging Journalism Award for their published investigative work.

Meriana Johnsen won the main prize of $1000 for her story on police handling of suicide calls. The judges said they were “astonished at Meriana’s revelation that people who attempted suicide were being arrested for issues such as possessing drugs”.

Ms Johnsen, whose iwi affiliations are Rangitāne and Ngāi Tahu, felt honoured to win.

“It can be difficult starting out in the industry but, with this award, I know I’m on the right track,” she says. “Mental health in this country is an important issue that deserves more attention than media often have resources to dedicate to it.

“I want to encourage more journalists to find fresh angles to discuss mental health so that we can help inform public debate in a meaningful way.” 

Because of the high quality of entries, the judges awarded two special highly commended awards of $500 each to Massey students Amber Allott and Anna Whyte.

Ms Allott published an article on the European black market trade in New Zealand native reptiles, while Ms Whyte published an article on revenge porn, the non-consensual sharing of intimate photos online.

“Both were extraordinary pieces of work,” the judges said.

Ms Johnsen now works as a freelance print and radio journalist, while Ms Alcott works as a multimedia journalist for Newstalk ZB and Ms Whyte is a digital political reporter at One News.

All three students undertook their investigations as part of their postgraduate journalism studies at Massey. Ms Johnsen and Ms Allott studied the Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism and Ms Whyte the Master of Journalism.

The annual Bruce Jesson Award is named in memory of the late investigative journalist and is judged by a team of leading journalists and academics.

Massey postgraduate journalism students have won the Jesson award every year since 2013 and eight times in the award’s decade-long history.

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