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Flagstaff editor judged top reporter at national media awards

Flagstaff Team

Devonport Flagstaff editor Rob Drent was named best community newspaper journalist at the national Voyager Media Awards last Friday. His entry included an investigation into Vista Linda, a major Devonport landlord, and its tenants who felt they were being forced out by rent rises; the controversy over a trucked in-villa in Cheltenham; and a backgrounder on the revived Devonport Heritage group.

Judges said Drent’s entry stood out from other entrants and his stories were well researched and well written.

The Flagstaff has won numerous Community Newspaper Association awards. And in recent years it had been a finalist in the national media awards. But this was the first national win.

Ironically Drent, who in his 21st year of editing the Flagstaff, felt his entry wasn’t particularly strong.

“Awards can be a bit of lottery, depending a lot on what other reporters have done that year. For example one of the Flagstaff’s best editorial campaigns – getting rid of synthetic cannabis drug Kronic from local dairies – didn’t win anything as it was the same year as the Christchurch earthquakes, and community papers there did some amazing work in very difficult conditions.”

“I’m rapt to have won, as much for the paper as myself. It’s a small team, and very much a combined effort.

“It also reflects well on Devonport that the suburb can sustain a robust community paper.”

One of the trends at the awards was the increasing prominence of locally owned media organisations placing well against the bigger corporates.