Siobhan Downes (centre) is congratulated on her success by (from left) Fairfax’s national content editor Kevin Norquay, Dominion Post editor Bernadette Courtney, Massey Journalism head Dr Grant Hannis and Massey Journalism senior lecturer Dr Cathy Strong. Photo courtesy The Dominion Post.

Fairfax Media awards $1000 to Massey’s top journalism student in 2013

8 November 2013

She’s loved newspapers since she was a child, and Siobhan Downes is now this year’s top student on Massey’s postgraduate journalism course.

Siobhan picked up a $1000 prize and a certificate of achievement for her success.

The prize is funded by Fairfax Media, and Siobhan received her award at a ceremony at Fairfax’s Wellington offices in early November.

She was rapt at her achievement.

“People have always said I should be a journalist,” she said.

“When I was a child, I used to make my own newspapers. I’d ask my parents to deliver them to the neighbours, but they wouldn’t!”

Siobhan now works as a multimedia journalist at Fairfax’s Wellington bureau, producing stories for Fairfax’s stable of newspapers and its online news site, Stuff.

Siobhan’s boss, Kevin Norquay, praised Siobhan for the quality of her research and writing.

“She recently wrote a 1000-word piece about how few houses in New Zealand are numbered 13.

“It was a massive amount of work, but the story contained no holes and I barely had to change a word.”

The article was published in the Sunday Star-Times.

Siobhan studied history and Japanese before journalism, and her language skills have helped her find stories.

In one case, a Japanese blog put her on to a story about how the design on New Zealand chocolate-bar wrappers had inadvertently outraged people in Korea.

Massey Journalism head Dr Grant Hannis said Siobhan had been a quiet achiever on the course.

“She worked hard, and consistently performed excellently in the tests and other assignments.

“Perhaps her biggest success was shorthand, where she reached a speed of 120 words a minute.

“Over the past decade only one other student achieved that speed - and that student topped the course in her year too!”

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