When Occupy New Zealand put out a press release telling Kiwi journalists “You Need Not Fear Becoming Julian Assange” and imploring them to participate in a New Zealand mainstream media revolution, we dared not dream one would actually eventuate.
So it is a dizzying pleasure to be able to announce to the world that reporter Andrea Vance, famous for protecting her source over the #GCSB leaks (the NZ equivalent of the NSA), and more recently her Fairfax coverage of First Look Media and Glenn Greenwald‘s Snowden revelations, has won both Reporter of the Year and the Wolfson Fellowship Award at the recent Canon Media Awards, which will see her travel to Cambridge in 2015 to further hone her skills.
Herself a very public victim of Big Brother, Andrea’s stand for freedom of the press has resulted in a watershed moment in NZ political and media history, where attacks on her by elements of the ruling Government spectacularly backfired, inflaming the Parliamentary press corps.
In the not-so-distant past, we would be sorely tempted to write a diatribe about the sorry state of affairs that has led to major NZ journalism awards being corporate functions that are largely restricted to corporate-backed journalists, or to note that the judges of the awards mostly if not all, hail from the executive level of those exact same big media corporations.
However in this instance, that fact actually makes the accolades that are being heaped upon Andrea Vance by her peers and the public for her courage and integrity while under fire, all the more remarkable, internationally significant and newsworthy.
So instead of writing about all the mistakes other Fairfax journalists have made in the past, or how the corporate media has let us down, for once we can say – they got it right, did the right thing and we are grateful for it.
There are many signs in the wider international press that the tide is beginning to turn, and the saturation levels of the free information available at people’s fingertips is at long last producing social wins.
It appears the media is catching up with public opinion and there may be hope yet that we can retain and hopefully reinforce some of the many precious freedoms and human rights that are at dire risk of erosion by the global surveillance apparatus.
So in this sweet moment we laud the victories. Kia ora Andrea, wahine toa.
(Another great article including an 8:58 excerpt of a radio interview with Andrea is linked here courtesy of The PaePae)
OCCUPY NEW ZEALAND MEDIA TEAM