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Hamilton Student wins Media Studies challenge

Better Public Media Trust was delighted to present Hamilton Boys High School student, Josef Gillgren with a large cheque for $1000 as first prize for the Geoff Lealand Student Challenge for 2023.

Josef, year 13, received the prize on Monday at the last Prefects Meeting of the year. It was presented by a judge of the competition, Josephine Maplesden who is a well-known Hamilton teacher and social studies Head of Faculty at Hamilton Girls’ High School, and also Geoff Lealand’s widow.

“Josef was absolutely shocked, in a good way,” she said after surprising him with the prize.

HBHS also won $500 for the media studies department.


This year’s Student Challenge was the first to honour Hamilton legend, Geoff Lealand who passed away last year. Geoff was a trustee of the Better Public Media Trust and organised the first few student challenges. He was one of New Zealand’s best known media studies educators, having pioneered the course at Waikato University where he taught for 25 years. His work left an indelible mark on many of his students, who went on to become film-makers, television professionals and even prime ministers.

Josephine was a big part of Geoff’s work on the student challenge and kindly agreed to take on Geoff’s role as co-judge this year.


The challengeJosef receives ludicously large cheque from Josephine.jpg

This year, the student challenge asked students to produce an essay, video or any other piece of content on the following questions:

‘Do news media focus too much on crime reporting? Is that good or bad for New Zealand?’

There were many high-quality entries that engaged with the subject in imaginative, creative and thoughtful ways.


The winner

The BPM Trust thinks Geoff Lealand would have been very impressed by this year’s entries, including the winner from his hometown, Hamilton. Josef Gillgren’s entry was a 27-minute video called ‘Crime Reporting A Tale of Murder and Cultivation Theory’. The judges described it as a humorous and insightful exploration of news media, crime reporting and Eurovision!

“I thought it was in-depth sophisticated use of material,” wrote Josephine when judging the competition. “I felt he showed real understanding of the issues, actually used film techniques to keep up the interest, and it was personal but it felt interesting.”

“That whole Euro vision stuff!!!!

“There were one or two spaces where there was too much talking but actually overall, I felt it concentrated on the whole idea of crime reporting and had a clear focus. Good use of theory and tried to explain/analyse it in context.”

The next Geoff Lealand Student Challenge will be held in 2024 and will be open to secondary school students across New Zealand.

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