Award celebrates focus on older persons
Central Leader reporter Scott Morgan and photographer Jason Oxenham took out top honours in the inaugural Age Concern Patron’s awards in Wellington last week.
At a ceremony to mark International Day of Older Persons, Scott and Jason were given the award for best reporting for a story published in May on Garth Briden, Ian Wallace and Lloyd Buckingham as they prepared for the Mongolian Charity Rally, a 16,000km driving odyssey through 18 countries.
Age Concern’s patron judge Ken Mason and a panel selected the winner from five finalists, which had been whittled down from more than 70 entries.
“Too often, the depictions of older people in the media aren’t representative of older New Zealanders,” says Mr Mason.
“Worse, there are great gaps where older people are not seen in the media at all, and if they’re not invisible, too many older people are literally faceless – they’re shown only from the back or in part.
“The media are both the mirror and shapers of society, so we decided to create an award to encourage and reward positive portrayals of older people.
“Our Patron’s award encourages and rewards media depictions of older people that challenge negative attitudes.”
The judges say the winning story showed that it’s possible to have a great adventure at any age.
“It depicts older people’s sense of adventure and comradeship,” they say.
“An added dimension is that the adventurers were raising money for charity, reinforcing the altruism we see in many seniors.”
Central Leader editor Katherine Forbes says she’s thrilled Scott and Jason’s work has been recognised, particularly because the stories were nominated by people who read the paper rather than the journalists and photographers involved.
“We’re always mindful that there are so many people doing amazing things in our community and we want to celebrate that no matter how old they are.
“In fact, some of the stories we’ve written over the years on older people and their achievements will put a lot of younger people to shame.”
Mr Mason says the judges also wanted to acknowledge Suburban Newspapers and its commitment to older people.
Of the 26 shortlisted entries, more than half came from Suburban Newspapers.
Winning team: Scott Morgan, left, and Jason Oxenham celebrate their win at the Age Concern Patron’s awards.