Entrants quit EY journalism awards over 'conflict of interest' concern

Globally Ernst & Young sponsors many awards, including the Golden Globe awards.
MIKE BLAKE

Globally Ernst & Young sponsors many awards, including the Golden Globe awards.

Media outlets, including Fairfax Media, have withdrawn their entries in the EY business journalism awards after an independent judge resigned citing commercial conflict.

Journalist Rebecca Macfie quit the judging panel saying it was clear that one entry was not going to be recognised "because of the problems fall-out from the story were creating for EY".

That story was from former National Business Review reporter Karyn Scherer about alleged accounting irregularities at Fuji Xerox .

EY was Fuji's auditor during the period covered but there is no suggestion it was at fault.

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Macfie, an independent judge of the awards, said she resigned when it became clear the article was not going to be considered.

"They had a conflict of interest, and the way they were resolving it was to make clear the story couldn't be recognised."

"It has been reported that I resigned in protest, but it didn't feel like a protest – it felt like a pretty obvious thing to do," she said. 

EY says the awards are designed to raise the profile of journalism and help "build trust and confidence in the markets".

It has been contacted for comment but neither the managing partner or communications exec are commenting.

Fairfax Media New Zealand, publisher of Stuff, sought information from EY pending a decision on whether to withdraw its entries from the awards but has not received any response.

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"We have sought assurances from EY but nothing has been forthcoming which is why we have decided to withdraw our entries," Fairfax national business editor Ellen Read said.

"We applaud all efforts to support great journalism but, just as we report independently, we need to know that any awards we are associated with are free from bias and we have not been able to determine that."

NBR earlier said it had withdrawn completely from the awards. NBR also tweeted that economic commentator Rod Oram had indicated he was withdrawing.

RNZ reporter Anusha Bradley tweeted that she was quitting the awards too. 

NZME, publisher of the New Zealand Herald, has also withdrawn its entries. Business editor Hamish Fletcher said "the removal of Karyn Scherer's entry without adequate explanation calls into question the process at this year's EY awards."

EY sponsors a number of awards globally including the Golden Globe Awards, and runs annual awards for entrepreneurs.

Aside from Macfie – who stepped down – the other judges of the awards are EY chairman Alan Judge, former EY Australasia managing partner Rob McLeod and New Zealand Initiative chairman Roger Partridge.

 - Stuff

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