The Star, New Zealand’s largest free newspaper, took out the prestigious Overall and Supreme Newspaper of the Year Award at the recent Community Newspapers Awards.

Ventia Sherson, awards judge, said of the Christchurch-based newspaper, “Bold in design and bold in attitude, The Star urges its readers to engage in debate and reflect on the issues it deems important to the community. Strong, grass-roots reporting and tight writing are the hallmarks of the paper. It tackles big subjects with a sure hand and features a good mix of civic issues, crime and community stories.”

Judges gave big raps to the category winners. Speaking about the sports writing category, Armin Lindenberg commented, “‘No shortage of quality sports writing in this category , much of it of an exceptionally high standard—the equal of  and even better than you find these days in many of our more illustrious metro and weekend papers.”

The Star’s Bridget Rutherford came runner-up in the junior journalist category, won by Many Cooper from Queenstown’s Mountain Scene newspaper. Sandra Stewart, of the Kaiapoi Advocate took out the senior journalist prize.

Held in Christchurch during the CNA Conference, the annual Community Newspapers Awards received a record number of entries from across the country in 21 categories ranging from Young Journalist of the Year to Community Involvement.

Simon Ellis, president CNA, says, “With over 80 mastheads represented by the independent publishers, the competition was tough. To stand out above others the winning entries had to have something special.”

The CNA conference, attended by 100 members, ran over two days in Christchurch. Speakers included performance specialist Renzie Hanham who covered performance under pressure and Doug Hendry from the Puzzle Company.

Ellis says he has received positive feedback from the conference, which will help in planning next year’s event.

CNA also held its annual general meeting and elected two new committee members: Charlotte Smulders from Star Media and Robyn McLeod from Whakatane Beacon. The meeting re-elected Ellis as president for the fourth year.

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