Over the weekend, the team at Craccum and Debate Magazine gathered at an unusual rendition of the Aotearoa Student Press Awards: a physically distanced backyard event, live streaming into the Wellington event where six other student magazines across the country gathered to celebrate the year.
This year, Craccum took home Best Column and Runner up to Best Opinion Writer (Mairātea Mohi), Best Student Politics Coverage, Best News Story (Free Labour for a Helicopter Ride), Best Editorial (Brian Gu and Eda Tang), Best Māori Coverage, Best Photographer (Flora Xie), Best Website (Nick Withers), Best Design and Best Creative Writing Fiction or Poetry (Ruby Macomber and Kat Taufalele).
Nancy Guo, a first time writer this year at Craccum won the Best Column Award for her Bad Self Help Guide. One of the judges for this category, Tess Nichol, who has written for North and South, NZ Herald, RNZ, and Metro says that the column has “its own particular flavour which felt distinct to Nancy, rather than a collection of generic internet humour” and that “Nancy’s writing is funny and shows curiosity about the world.”
The awards were judged by over 50 judges across and abroad Aotearoa who were mostly journalists, but there were also some authors, artists and designers. These included investigative journalist, Paula Penfold, The Citizen’s Handbook and White Man Behind A Desk’s Robbie Nicol, President of the New Zealand Society of Authors, Mandy Hager, The Spinoff’s Toby Morris, the Guardian’s Elle Hunt.
The event was organised by the Aotearoa Student Press Association which was established in 2003 and comprises student magazine editors and past editors to support the mission of editorial independence and integrity. Deputy Editor at Stuff, Janine Fenwick who judged the awards said that Craccum reported well on campus news, and applied pressure to University leadership and Government on issues affecting the student body.
Many other judges testified to the value of student magazine as an institution to report in-depth and with unexpected angles on familiar topics, exploring “zeitgeist issues with a distinct student twist” and providing an inclusive platform for diverse students. Another judge says that some magazines are recognising that it’s a paper of record so that “in 50 years, new editors will be looking back to see how we dealt with the shitfest that is 2020/21”.