2009 Walkley Award Winners
Use the links at the top to find a specific category or winner, or scroll through all 33. Click on the images to enlarge, and follow the links to see the stories that made these the deserving winners of the 54th Walkley Awards.
Gary Hughes, The Australian - Black Saturday 1 & 2 read more
Steve Pennells, West Weekend Magazine, “Collateral Damage” read more
Maroondah Leader team, "Feeling the Strain" read more
Kirk Gilmour, Illawarra Mercury and The Sydney Morning Herald, âBatten Down the Boogie Boardsâ read more
Janine Cohen, Liz Jackson and Kate Wild, Four Corners, ABC TV, "Who Killed Mr Ward?" read more
Paul Cully, The Sydney Morning Herald read more
Louise FitzRoy, Steve Kyte, Kon Karamountzos and Simon Rogers, ABC Kinglake Ranges 94.5FM, âA New Voiceâ read more
Anne Connolly, Sarah Ferguson, Ivan O’Mahoney and Kate Wild, Four Corners, ABC TV, “Code of Silence” read more
Phil Hillyard, The Daily Telegraph, âSports Lightâ read more
Samantha Donovan, The World Today, ABC Radio, âBlack Saturday Aftermathâ read more
Anita Barraud, 360, ABC Radio National, âIndonesian Journeys: Democracy and Diversity: Jakarta, Aceh, West Timor, Baliâ read more
Annabel Crabb, Quarterly Essay, âStop at Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbullâ read more
John Garnaut and Mathew Murphy, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, “Rio Tinto Executives Detained in China” read more
Peter Nicholson, The Australian, âBashir and Bombingâ read more
David Rowe, The Australian Financial Review, “Budget Boat” read more
HeraldSun.com.au team, âBlack Saturday Bushfiresâ read more
Patrick Carlyon, Herald Sun, âWhere the Hell is Everyone?â read more
Justin McManus, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, âBlack Saturday Bodyâ read more
Duncan Hughes, The Australian Financial Review, âASIC Knew About Storm for Monthsâ read more
Jason South, The Age, âPapua Birthâ read more
Fouad Hady and Geoff Parish, Dateline, SBS TV, âCity of Widowsâ read more
Tim Noonan, Today Tonight, Seven Network, âStreet Gangsâ read more
Seven News Victoria team, âBlack Saturday Bulletinâ read more
Anna Broinowski and Sally Regan, SBS TV, âForbidden Lie$â read more
Andrew Geoghegan and Mary Ann Jolley, Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV, âZimbabwe, Left to Dieâ read more
Michael McKinnon, Neil Warren, Peter Doherty and Michael Best, Seven News, “Police Corruption” read more
Tracy Grimshaw, A Current Affair, Nine Network read more
Jo Chandler, The Age, âAngola versus Angelinaâ read more
Renee Nowytarger, The Australian read more
Graham Freudenberg, Churchill and Australia, Pan Macmillan read more
Michael McKinnon, national Freedom of Information editor, Seven Network read more
Tony Stephens, journalist and author read more
Gold Walkley / Print News ReportBack to Top
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Gary Hughes, The Australian, “Black Saturday 1 & 2”
On February 7, Gary Hughes and his family were lucky to escape with their lives as the Black Saturday bushfires that raged through Victoria destroyed their St Andrews home. Just hours after reaching safety, Hughes borrowed a computer to write a first-person account of the experience. It was published in its first draft – immediate, and with the stripped-back observation of one running on shock and adrenaline. The story became an international touchpoint for the bushfire victims’ experience; so raw and confronting that Hughes cannot reread it to this day.
Days later The Australian published an open letter from Hughes to the prime minister Kevin Rudd calling attention to the needless bureaucracy victims faced as they sought emergency aid from Centrelink. Within hours of the article appearing there was a public apology in federal parliament.
Hughes has spent 35 years working in daily journalism in Australia and overseas in a range of writing and editing roles, including as The Australian’s Victorian editor and head of The Age’s Insight investigative unit. He has won a number of national and international journalism awards, and these wins take his Walkley tally to five.
Hughes displayed not only courage but astonishing storytelling ability in recounting the tale of his family’s survival. This was the story that brought the Australian bushfires to the world. Combining journalistic skill with the steadiness of an eyewitness, this is the essence of what print journalism is all about.
Best Online JournalismBack to Top
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Maroondah Leader team, “Feeling the Strain”
The Maroondah Leader’s online project took an in-paper series of stories and expanded on them with compelling multimedia galleries and relevant background information and links. They set out to investigate the complex mental health system of Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, a tangled web involving dozens of programs and nearly as many service providers.
Reports of ill-treatment at in-patient wards and complaints about poor access to crisis assessment teams became more common as the Maroondah Leader expanded its coverage of social issues, including homelessness and mental health. Discussions with police revealed growing contact between mentally ill residents and officers who were ill-equipped to deal with both their complex needs and sometimes volatile behaviour.
The Maroondah Leader shed light on a story that so often goes untold. It wasn’t just the system they explored; photographer Andy Drewitt’s dramatic images and profile of former male model and schizophrenia sufferer, Stuart Evans, provided a human face and personal history through which to examine the many challenges faced by individuals with mental illness. Using audio galleries, Drewitt and editor Dave Crossthwaite gave voice to those directly affected, including sufferers, carers, mental health nurses and those who have lost loved ones as a direct result of mental illness.
“Feeling the Strain” is one of many innovative multimedia pieces produced by the Maroondah Leader in conjunction with the newspaper’s online team. The production brought together a photographer, journalists, graphic artists, animators and a web producer to highlight the struggle facing Melbourne’s health professionals and patients as the mental health system is stretched to breaking point.
This story focused on a topic not being covered in the general mainstream news. This was an original story and getting these people to talk must be commended. We recognise a smaller news organisation which told a story that would otherwise not have been told. It is journalism that clearly benefited from multimedia treatment, conveying a story that print media could not tell alone. They didn’t have tremendous resources to create the piece, but it is professionally presented, easy to navigate, and every word of this story is original journalism.
Daily Life / Feature PhotographyBack to Top
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Kirk Gilmour, Illawarra Mercury and The Sydney Morning Herald, “Batten Down the Boogie Boards”
While on a separate news assignment near Towradgi beach, north of Wollongong, Kirk Gilmour noticed a storm approaching over the Illawarra escarpment. He watched as the majority of beachgoers cleared out, fleeing the wind and rain. But in true Aussie style, one couple had no intention of leaving. As their beach umbrella turned inside out, they calmly raised their boogie boards above their heads to shelter from the elements.
Gilmour started at the Illawarra Mercury as a cadet photographer in 1979. In 1986 he took up a position as News Limited’s Wollongong bureau photographer, and there he stayed for nearly eight years until it closed in July 1993. Offered a position back at the Illawarra Mercury, he returned to Wollongong’s daily newspaper as a senior photographer in 1993. From darkrooms to digital images, Gilmour has now marked 30 years in the newspaper industry. He has been chief photographer/pictorial editor for 10 years.
Blame it on the boogie! Technically it is very good to catch the rain cloud. It is a mischievous image, really quirky. Interesting that even the lifeguards went home – yet the subject and the photographer remained. That’s Australia, that’s summer.
All Media: Coverage of Indigenous AffairsBack to Top
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Janine Cohen, Liz Jackson and Kate Wild, Four Corners, ABC TV, “Who Killed Mr Ward?”
Mr Ward was a respected Western Australian elder who, after being arrested for driving under the influence, died locked in the searing heat of a prison van driven 400km across the desert. Four Corners undertook a detailed, forensic investigation of the events that led to Ward’s detention and death, and explored the impact for his family and community.
Janine Cohen, Liz Jackson and Kate Wild found that the guards driving the prison van did not stop to check on Ward’s welfare. They found evidence that the Department of Corrective Services was warned of the risks their substandard fleet of vehicles posed to prisoners. They found the justice of the peace who refused Ward bail and ordered him driven to a Kalgoorlie jail. And the minister for corrective services at the time admitted it was the “biggest regret of [her] public life… I think we were negligent”.
The program revealed years of systemic inertia by the Western Australian government, the Department of Corrective Services and the two private security companies, GSL and AIMS, towards the welfare of prisoners being transferred long distances in Western Australia – most of them Aboriginal.
Liz Jackson joined the ABC in 1986 as a reporter/producer on ABC Radio National, where she won the Walkley for international journalism. In 1994 she joined Four Corners and in 2005 she presented the ABC’s Media Watch program. She returned to Four Corners in 2006 and won the Gold Walkley for excellence in journalism for “Stoking the Fires”, her report on political rivalries and violence in East Timor.
Kate Wild joined Four Corners in July 2007. She began her career in radio and has worked in television as a researcher and producer for the past 15 years on programs including The Chaser and Australian Story on the ABC, Insight on SBS, and more than 20 individual documentaries. In 2008 Wild was part of a Four Corners team awarded the Walkley for best use of media for the story “Tipping Point”. The story also won the Eureka Prize for environmental journalism this year.
Janine Cohen has produced more than 60 Four Corners programs, many of which have won awards including the New York Film Festival Gold Medal, UNE SCO Silver Medal and a United Nations Environment Award. After six finalist and commended nominations, this is Cohen’s first Walkley.
This was a very powerful investigation, an impressive, forensic piece of work and an example of investigative journalism at its best. The interviews were extremely strong. Liz is renowned for her tenacity. She brought emotion and softness into the story. The team used every investigative tool at their disposal and the public benefited from this. Excellent television.
Best Three HeadingsBack to Top
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Paul Cully, The Sydney Morning Herald“From second fiddle to fecund Siddle”
“The curious case of Jenson Button, the man whose salary is stuck in reverse”
Most great subeditors will have a story of the perfect headline, the one that comes from the blue, as if delivered by a lightning bolt – often at 3am. Such was the case for Paul Cully and his “From second fiddle to fecund Siddle”. Cully played the waiting game until the man in question, Australian cricket team paceman Peter Siddle, actually came to the party with a performance to fit the bill.
His other two headlines, about NRL wunderkind Benji Marshall and Formula One driver Jenson Button, share the same energetic mix of puns, pop culture and humour. Button’s curious case showed that even Formula One stars aren’t immune from the global financial crisis, but as Cully wrote: “Luckily for Jenson there are no plans to have high-speed driving outsourced to a cheaper alternative, so the subeditor’s sympathy has its limits.”
Paul Cully was born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1973 and moved to Northern Ireland when he was five. His first job in journalism was as a commodities reporter in London in 1995. He moved to Australia in 2000 and was the founding editor of Rainmaker Group’s Financial Standard before moving to Fairfax. He has been in The Sydney Morning Herald’s sports department since 2005, where he is now the deputy chief sub-editor. This is his first Walkley win.
The fiddle headline in particular was very witty; we could believe that he thought of it at 3am and was waiting for the occasion. You can really believe that the cricketers would have debated it a lot themselves. An absolute original, scoring high on creativity. He had three that were very good, which was just inspirational. Very well thought out headings.
All Media: Coverage of Community and Regional AffairsBack to Top
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Louise FitzRoy, Steve Kyte, Kon Karamountzos and Simon Rogers, ABC Kinglake Ranges 94.5FM, “A New Voice”
Borrowing a 15-metre cherrypicker to raise the ABC radio transmitter above the mountains to reach the Kinglake community, a new radio station was born out of the Black Saturday tragedy. Working in a small room within Kinglake’s Neighbourhood House, Louise FitzRoy and Simon Rogers’ studio was like a living room, fitted with couches and on-loan, basic radio equipment.
Producing and researching their own programs, they provided vital information about life after fires. They interviewed key figures including politicians, emergency authorities and, most importantly, locals. And they helped with the community’s emotional recovery, providing a voice and a space for grief, loss and support. The community really took ownership of the project. Eventually FitzRoy and Rogers trained a band of volunteers in basic radio production, and were awarded honorary citizenships of the town for their journalism services.
Louise FitzRoy started work at the ABC as a rural reporter. Arriving in Victoria two days prior to Black Saturday, she spent the next month reporting from different fire-affected locations around the state, before being selected as the breakfast presenter for ABC Kinglake Ranges.
Kon Karamountzos is operations coordinator for ABC Local Radio Victoria. He has also been a senior producer for 774 ABC Melbourne and technical operator for 3AW.
Steve Kyte is a media executive with a career spanning 25 years in commercial and public service TV and radio in the UK and Australia. In 2004 he arrived in Australia and worked first as program director of 774 ABC Melbourne, and then as manager of ABC Local Radio & Online in Victoria.
Simon Rogers currently hosts the ABC Central & Western Victoria Saturday Breakfast program.
This is an example of journalism encompassing an entire community spirit. It was achieved under very trying circumstances and has had a real impact on the local community. They came into the makeshift studio and sat on the lounge chairs – they took total ownership of the station. There was a real element of a healing process as they really told the people’s story.
All Media: Best Sports JournalismBack to Top
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Anne Connolly, Sarah Ferguson, Ivan O’Mahoney and Kate Wild, Four Corners, ABC TV, “Code of Silence”
Four Corners examined the culture of footballers’ attitudes to women, and the female fans who pursue sex with players. The team painstakingly tracked down women involved in off-field incidents with NRL players, and overcame their fears of vilification to go on the record. The program centred on “Clare” who was clearly still traumatised after a group-sex incident involving Cronulla Sharks players in Christchurch in 2002.
The research behind the piece was forensic, the interviews sensitive and yet explosively revelatory. Four Corners also obtained behind-the-scenes insights into how the NRL culture sees itself, through interviews with Newcastle Knights players. The program’s impact has been wide-reaching, forcing much debate on issues of sport, fame, power and attitudes to women. An annual survey of NRL footballers by Rugby League Week found a third said they had changed their behaviour as a result of the broadcast of “Code of Silence”.
Sarah Ferguson joined Four Corners in February 2008. She began her journalistic career in newspapers in the UK before moving to France where she worked for the BBC. In Australia she has worked for the SBS programs Dateline and Insight, and Nine’s Sunday.
Ivan O’Mahoney is an award-winning freelance journalist and documentary film-maker. Before joining Four Corners he made programs for HBO, BBC Current Affairs, ARTE , PBS and CNN.
Anne Connolly has been a researcher/producer with Four Corners since 2000. She began her career as a reporter at The Australian before heading to Europe where she worked as a freelance journalist for five years. She worked as a producer on the ABC’s 7.30 Report and Media Watch where she was part of the Gold Walkley-winning team in 1999.
Kate Wild is also part of the winning team for coverage of Indigenous affairs this year.
Outstanding investigative reporting. They conveyed that the officials were condoning risk-taking off-field behaviour. Ferguson found the victim seven years on, in a severely depressed state, and she interviewed her with great care and sensitivity. This piece had vast and long-term repercussions, including the events later uncovered at the Cronulla Sharks.
Sport PhotographyBack to Top
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Phil Hillyard, The Daily Telegraph, “Sports Light”
Whether under harsh midday summer sun, gloomy wet conditions or stadium spotlights, sport photographers are always working against the light to nail that split-second shot. While light can pose a challenge, it can also be the catalyst for a stunning shot. Phil Hillyard reckons when good light presents itself, usually only for minutes, the sport photographer’s eye comes alive and works harder to use that light in the best possible way.
These five photographs are all elevated from great shots to extraordinary ones by their lighting. Hillyard’s characteristic skill for composition and his eye for a fresh perspective are in play, but it’s light – the rainbow over a stadium, the glinting droplets of water shaken from a swimmer’s dreadlocks, steam rising off a horse in the dawn – that makes these magical.
Phil Hillyard began his career as a copy boy with the Adelaide News, gaining a cadetship as a photographer eight months later in 1989. After its closure in 1992, he freelanced for a couple of years before accepting a staff position on Adelaide’s Advertiser, working there as a news photographer and moving over to sport in 1996. Hillyard has been shooting for The Daily Telegraph since 1998. He has won many national and international awards for his work including this, his fifth Walkley Award. He was named Australian Press Photographer of the Year in 2001.
Stunningly shot. A great sense of moment in these photographs. It is a beautiful juncture of the ultimate moment of style and quality of light. The images are all important sporting moments and technically stunning.
Radio News and Current Affairs ReportingBack to Top
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Samantha Donovan, The World Today / AM / PM, ABC Radio, “Black Saturday Aftermath”
Late on the night of Black Saturday – February 7, 2009 – Samantha Donovan drove to Kilmore and worked through the night interviewing firefighters and people who had fled the fires for a special Sunday morning edition of AM. Over the following days, Donovan filed both packages and live crosses via mobile phone for The World Today and PM.
She worked hard under intense time pressures and without studio resources. She filed audio to the Sydney studios via the landline phone of a local shopkeeper and edited, mixed and voiced another report via laptop in the early hours of the morning. Donovan was the first broadcast journalist to tour the devastated town of Callignee in Gippsland, where she recorded a package at a get-together for locals.
The most powerful aspect of Donovan’s reporting is the voices of bushfire survivors. It took compassion and sensitivity to find people who were willing to talk, and Donovan put their wellbeing first. She found their grief and shock unpredictable – one interviewee could talk matter-of-factly about fighting the fires and the burns he had suffered, but the loss of his beloved horse was a subject that could not be broached.
Samantha Donovan has been a reporter with ABC Radio Current Affairs in Melbourne since mid 2006. After a dalliance with a career in law, in 1996 Donovan joined ABC Radio as a rural reporter in Shepparton. She worked in New York from 2003-2006 before returning to her current role with ABC Radio Current Affairs in 2006.
Reporting breaking news, Samantha Donovan unveiled this moving series of reports from the Victorian bushfires. Our worst fears are realised as we hear the first heart-rending accounts from traumatised survivors at the Whittlesea relief centre. Working through the night of Black Saturday with limited resources, Donovan carefully found those able to tell this story of unimaginable horror and loss.
Radio Feature, Documentary or Broadcast SpecialBack to Top
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Anita Barraud, 360, ABC Radio National, “Indonesian Journeys: Democracy and Diversity: Jakarta, Aceh, West Timor, Bali”
Anita Barraud went beyond the beaten track for this extensive primer on Indonesia’s transition to democracy after more than 30 years of dictatorship under military strongman Soeharto. She spoke to politicians, artists, analysts and activists not only in the cities, but in remote regions of West Timor and Aceh.
Her exploration of such complex issues as decentralisation, corruption, and Muslim identity after the Bali and Jakarta bombings was anchored with excellent radio production techniques including natural sound and descriptive writing. In a co-production with the BBC World Service, journalist/producer Barraud worked with support from BBC producer Neil Trevithick
Anita Barraud has worked for more than 20 years as a broadcaster with Radio National, making feature programs, reporting and producing across a range of specialist areas including European politics and arts, education, business, law, science and social justice issues. For 10 years she was a reporter on Asia and Pacific current affairs. She currently produces The Law Report and All in the Mind.
An outstanding use of the medium. The extensive use of natural sound, compiled with Anita’s skill in painting word pictures, gave the program a rich texture. She took on a number of guiding roles to tell the story – a history teacher, a tour guide, a political analyst. She delivered a very well-informed program. Her programs reflected the immense diversity of Indonesian culture and politics in the lead-up to the elections.
Magazine Feature WritingBack to Top
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Annabel Crabb, Quarterly Essay, “Stop at Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbull”
This beautifully written and highly detailed character sketch of opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull combined new revelations with insights gleaned from his history in politics and business. As an examination of Turnbull’s character traits – audacity, fearlessness and impatience – the piece arrived at an extraordinary time and foreshadowed the events and leadership tensions that embroiled Turnbull in the months that followed its publication.
The OzCar affair – or “Utegate” – broke shortly after, crippling Turnbull in the opinion polls and demonstrating his preparedness to take risks in the pursuit of success, and his fondness for intrigue and adventure. Annabel Crabb researched and wrote the piece over several months with the consent of her editor at The Sydney Morning Herald. She spent hours with Turnbull for interviews and background discussions, and also spoke to dozens of Liberal Party politicians, present and past, businesspeople, lawyers, campaigners, bureaucrats and others who had encountered Turnbull in various of his earlier guises.
Annabel Crabb has been a political columnist and sketchwriter for The Sydney Morning Herald. She joined the federal parliamentary press gallery in 1999 and has reported on federal politics ever since, with one absence during which she served in London as the correspondent for Fairfax’s Sunday titles. This is her first Walkley Award.
Annabel Crabb’s Quarterly Essay on Malcolm Turnbull was newsworthy, incisive and funny. Her portrayal of Turnbull’s personality eventually proved to be freakily accurate as he struggled to handle the “Utegate” affair. Annabel’s carefully crafted essay also showcases her considerable gift for writing.
All Media: Best Scoop of the YearBack to Top
John Garnaut and Mathew Murphy, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, “Rio Tinto Executives Detained in China”
While covering riots in China’s Xinjiang province, John Garnaut discovered an even bigger story. Stern Hu, Rio Tinto’s Australian iron ore sales chief in China, had “disappeared” from work along with three Chinese employees. Garnaut was able to reveal Hu’s identity and that he and his colleagues had been the subject of a sustained investigation.
At the same time, about 9.45pm, Mathew Murphy independently heard of the story and was able to obtain the first official confirmation that an Australian had been detained. The joint story, on the front pages of the late editions of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, broke the saga wide open and heralded the ensuing diplomatic spat that would consume Australia and China and also inflame China’s relations with the outside world more broadly.
Not just a good get, the story was broken through excellent contacts and despite challenging conditions. Garnaut filed the scoop from Xinjiang, where Chinese authorities had cut all international phone lines and opened only one hotel room for internet access. There were four or five times as many journalists as internet cables.
John Garnaut is The Age and Sydney Morning Herald’s China correspondent. He worked as a commercial lawyer before joining the Herald as a cadet in 2002. The same year he was appointed economics correspondent in the Canberra press gallery. In 2007 he was posted to Beijing as the Asia economics correspondent for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
Mathew Murphy reports on resources for The Age, and first worked for The Age as a researcher in its Canberra bureau in 2002. In 2003 he was awarded a scholarship by the Myer Fellowship to travel to the Philippines and work for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Back in Melbourne in 2004, he had stints in sport, online and the state political bureau for The Age before moving to the business section in March 2007.
John Garnaut overcame great cultural and logistical difficulties in China – as well as being distracted by covering a different story – but through the use of assiduously cultivated contacts was able to reveal that Stern Hu and his three associates had been detained. He was able to file under great deadline pressure, and followed the story as its international repercussions mounted. By coincidence Mathew Murphy was alerted to the same story in Australia and, together, they pulled off a highly creditable scoop which is still having an impact on China-Australia relationships.
Best CartoonBack to Top
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Peter Nicholson, The Australian, “Bashir and Bombing”
Working to complement the breaking page-one story from Jakarta correspondent Stephen Fitzpatrick, which directly implicated Noordin Topp in the July 17 Marriott bombings, Peter Nicholson had his work cut out for him: suicide bombers aren’t very funny. Abu Bakar Bashir was claiming his organisation was being made a scapegoat, despite local sources connecting the bombers with former students of Bashir’s notorious Al-Mukmin madrassa.
The evidence emerged slowly as Nicholson worked, taking aim at the appalling morality of a spiritual teacher who has guided his young pupils towards suicide bombing. Knowing the risks of questions of taste, and skirting around the event itself, he delivered a chilling comment on Bashir’s disturbing self-appointed role. He even finished 20 minutes before deadline.
Peter Nicholson has been a cartoonist with The Australian since 1994, where he has now won five Walkley Awards. He also produced the Rubbery Figures television programs, which were like elaborate rubberised cartoons. In a more serious vein, Nicholson has also made the bronze portrait busts of five prime ministers for the Prime Ministers Avenue, Ballarat.
Cartoons should make you feel a little uncomfortable even as you laugh, and Peter Nicholson’s cartoon sums up a very hopeless situation. Nicholson uses humour on such a delicate subject; the message of the cartoon is conveyed without bad taste. This is the art of cartooning at its highest. It has great depth with such simplicity. To come up with a cartoon of this nature about suicide, it takes a great mind.
Best ArtworkBack to Top
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David Rowe, The Australian Financial Review, “Budget Boat”
After many years tasked with producing a strong cover image for The Australian Financial Review’s budget edition, David Rowe works hard to come up with something different. He tapped into the mood of the prime minister spending like a drunken sailor as his treasurer, Wayne Swan, navigated through the rough economic seas.
The story behind this illustration is almost as fascinating as the image itself – Rowe sculpted the figures at home, then oven-baked, painted and dressed them in hand-sewn clothes. Avoiding Photoshop wherever possible, Rowe had to concede defeat and Photoshop the sea in the image when he couldn’t find a baby pool big enough for the boat, which refused to float anyway.
Technical inventiveness aside, Rowe brings the same sharp-eyed attention to detail to his sculpture as he does with his pen. Caught up in a rousing sea shanty, Kev’s beer threatens to slop onto seasick Swan, and above it all a seagull appears poised to drop his opinion on the whole proceedings.
David Rowe has worked at The Australian Financial Review since 1993, where his cartoons feature daily on the opinion pages and caricatures accompany “The Chanticleer” column. Rowe began his career as an illustrator at The Canberra Times before a brief stint as a freelance artist in London. Rowe has won a number of Stanley awards for his cartooning and artwork.
A beautiful piece of work. The way this piece has been constructed is brilliant. David Rowe has managed to convey high comic drama, capturing it perfectly. The use of the props and the making of the clay really show a high level of commitment to the profession. Great likenesses, extraordinary detail, outstanding work.
Outstanding Continuous Coverage of an Issue or EventBack to Top
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HeraldSun.com.au team, “Black Saturday Bushfires”
The HeraldSun.com.au team demonstrated excellent use of new media techniques to provide broad and deep coverage of a fast-moving story, delivering a reader experience that went to the heart of the Black Saturday disaster. The site combined constant updates with ever-expanding accounts of the disaster from witnesses, officials and reporters.
Adding depth to their coverage, the site included a wealth of multimedia features including interactive Google-mapping, a “word cloud” of more than 3500 reader tributes to firefighters, and extensive use of reader images and videos. But where the coverage really excelled was in positioning itself as an online space for discussion and sharing of information. A “virtual town hall” allowed real-time conversations between people searching for lost ones. The site ran grief counselling sessions with a Lifeline counsellor, who provided offline follow-up where required. The internationally recognised image of “Sam” the thirsty koala was first published on the site, then mobilised to raise money for firefighting efforts.
The site is still being updated today, with follow-up from the Royal Commission inquiries into the fires. It remains a permanent tribute to the victims and heroes of a tragic chapter in our country’s history.
The small team at HeraldSun.com.au comprises news producers, video journalists, technical developers and designers. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and handle every aspect of the site’s news coverage, appearance and performance. The team is led by editor Matthew Pinkney, homepage editor Nathaniel Bane and news editor Patrick Horan.
HeraldSun.com.au’s coverage of the Black Saturday bushfires was innovative and groundbreaking. The website was able to demonstrate the powers of multimedia through reaching out to the community during such a devastating tragedy. The “town hall” feature was the clincher and took the coverage to a new level.
Newspaper Feature WritingBack to Top
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Patrick Carlyon, Herald Sun, “Where the Hell is Everyone?”
In the wake of the Black Saturday fires the entire town of Marysville had vanished. The exact death toll was unclear – and so was why so many locals had been caught unaware. Patrick Carlyon went to evacuation centres and spoke to survivors in his attempt to reconstruct the events before, during and after the Marysville catastrophe.
Inspired by John Hersey’s 1946 book Hiroshima, Carlyon focused on four victims for the spine of the piece, and found power in describing the sheer ordinariness of their lives before the flames. Continually asking through the writing process, “What was it like to be there?”, Carlyon re-created the themes of confusion and broken-down communication that marked the tragedy.
Patrick Carlyon has been a features writer at the Herald Sun since 2008. Previously, he worked at The Bulletin, where he covered several Olympic Games. Patrick has also contributed profiles and colour stories to many other magazines, including Good Weekend and Gourmet Traveller.
A strong, comprehensive, compelling read. There’s an elegance to his writing that goes beyond normal newspaper feature writing. Patrick Carlyon has a good forensic detail that gives strength to the story’s eloquence. It gives the reader a direct connection with those caught up in the disaster, planting them right in the middle of it all. He has a beautiful turn of phrase.
News PhotographyBack to Top
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Justin McManus, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, “Black Saturday Body”
The day after the Black Saturday bushfires, as towns affected by the fires were roadblocked, Justin McManus found a lift with a local and reached the township of Narbethong. There he took this picture of a body near the side of the road.
It’s a stark, simple and heartbreaking image. At first glance, the lone body laid in a smouldering burnt landscape could have been shot in black and white; the blue sky breaking through the blackened trees is the only colour. McManus lets this covered corpse speak for all the death, destruction and grief of the fires.
Justin McManus has been a photojournalist since 1996 when he worked for Adelaide’s Messenger Newspapers. As a social documentary photographer, his work has been published in the UK’s The Guardian, The Times and The Independent and at Argentina’s Buenos Aires Herald. McManus has worked for The Age since returning to Australia in 2006, where he has won awards from the Quills, the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers Association (PANPA), and now a Walkley.
Monochromatic but in colour, this photograph is an example of how a picture of one victim can tell the story of 173 victims. It represents the loneliness of those who died. A photograph to stop you in your tracks.
All Media: Business JournalismBack to Top
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Duncan Hughes, The Australian Financial Review, “ASIC Knew About Storm for Months”
The collapse of Townsville-based Storm Financial on January 11 was the moment the global financial crisis became personal. Overnight, thousands of Australians lost their life savings and faced losing their homes. But no-one wanted to take responsibility – not the banks, not Storm founder Emmanuel Cassimatis, or the advisers.
Duncan Hughes spent weeks talking to Storm clients, staff and bank employees, and pulled together a picture of an investment operation careening out of control. He found evidence of the Commonwealth Bank’s implication in the billions of dollars lost, even as the bank continued to deny responsibility. Eventually filing more than 90 articles, Hughes’s coverage played a significant role in forcing the banks to admit responsibility and make settlement offers to Storm clients; every one of those clients will say that’s journalism with a real impact. ASIC inquiries are continuing.
Duncan Hughes completed a graduate cadetship at The Herald, Melbourne, in 1980 and spent three years as a general and police reporter. He has worked for London’s Daily Telegraph, the South China Morning Post and reported from New York for the Post and (UK) Sunday Business. He returned to Australia in 2004 where he initially worked for The Age before joining The Australian Financial Review.
It’s a forensic analysis of one of the biggest business stories of the last 12 months. These stories revealed new details of the involvement of the Commonwealth Bank’s massive lending to clients of Storm Financial. The story had considerable public impact, helping force the Commonwealth Bank to admit its role.
Photographic EssayBack to Top
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Jason South, The Age, "Papua Birth"
Opening with a confronting image of a woman giving birth on a Port Moresby hospital floor, Jason South’s photographic essay paints a dramatic portrait of the dangers of childbirth in Papua New Guinea. With a health system straining under the weight of population growth and the breakdown of basic services, the number of Papuan women dying during or after labour has doubled in 10 years. The maternal death rate has risen to 733 in every 100,000 births; the equivalent figure in Australia is eight deaths in every 100,000 births. Of the country’s 200,000 births each year, an estimated 120,000 are unsupervised.
South’s photographs achieve a remarkable intimacy and are observed with the utmost respect. Women sit on the hospital floor with their newborn babies swaddled in colourful blankets – there aren’t enough beds. One baby cries during an immunisation, while another baby curls up next to its mother. A quietly distraught father carries the wrapped body of his dead baby.
Jason South has been a staff photographer on The Age in Melbourne since 1996. In this time he has won Press Photographer of the Year twice and several other Walkley Awards for his images from places including Iraq, East Timor and Melbourne.
And people whinge about the NSW health system! Jason South shows an enormous amount of respect for his subjects at very difficult times. The deceased child shows the power of the essay – not just a happy ending. Each image is powerful, even shocking, and the series has a strong narrative.
All Media: International JournalismBack to Top
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Fouad Hady and Geoff Parish, Dateline, SBS TV, “City of Widows”
As a former refugee from Iraq, Fouad Hady brought an incredible perspective to this report, showing viewers a side of his homeland that is rarely seen, especially by Western media. Hady takes us into the Baghdad suburb of Al Rashad, where supporters of militant cleric Moqtada Al Sadr live in unserviced makeshift homes, and are regularly raided by government security forces. With a hand-held camera he shows us inside an abandoned women’s prison from the Saddam era; the desperate now live in cells where women were once executed.
As a former local, Hady also ferrets out hope and the halting beginnings of a new society. In a country with an estimated 740,000 women made widows by the combined ravages of terrorism, Saddam Hussein’s regime and the US invasion, Hady visits a widows association meeting. As they demand compensation in a boisterous meeting, the sprouts of hope in a new civil society are clear.
This is powerful journalism providing an insight into a complex country, imbued with one man’s memoir and his hopes for the future of his homeland. That extra dimension of local knowledge and personal passion makes for riveting viewing.
Fouad Hady arrived from Iraq as a refugee in 2001. After 12 months in Curtin Detention Centre at Port Hedland, he moved to Melbourne and became an Australian citizen. A s a video journalist he has contributed to Dateline for several years. His work has also been shown on Iraqi television.
Geoff Parish is Dateline’s chief producer. H e joined the program in 2001. In a career spanning more than two decades he has worked in print, radio and television and has reported from South-East Asia, Europe and Africa.
Iraqi refugee Fouad Hady’s return to Baghdad uncovered new stories of Saddam’s barbaric regime and the hardship still endured by many Iraqis. It was riveting, unconventional journalism that told a new story. Judges liked the rough camerawork and honest, straightforward voiceover. Judges found this piece very moving and outside the usual journalism template. They were engaged till the end.
Television News and Current Affairs CameraBack to Top
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Tim Noonan, Today Tonight, Seven Network, “Street Gangs”
Tim Noonan works alone; his own producer, journalist and cameraman. He brought a gonzo approach to this series of reports for Today Tonight, delivering an insider’s view of the gangs of Australia. As a solo video journalist, Noonan was able to infiltrate street gangs, graffiti gangs, street-racing syndicates and illegal base-jumping gangs.
The resulting reports are immediate, intimate and laced with the danger and adrenaline that drive the gangs. Shooting with a kit that fits into a backpack – a Sony HDV Z7, small lights and wireless microphones – Noonan was able to move quickly and capture shots from the heart of the action. It’s exciting storytelling that packs the punch of the latest news-gathering techniques.
At 27, Tim Noonan has worked with Today Tonight for a year. He has written and directed numerous short films that have won awards worldwide. Noonan has also been a reporter/producer on a number of Australian television programs and was nominated for a TV Week Logie in 2004. Before starting at Today Tonight, Noonan spent three years as a field producer on Seven’s police documentary series The Force and Border Security. This is his first Walkley Award.
Tim Noonan immersed himself in a subculture, producing compelling and evocative images under dangerous circumstances. He worked alone with a small camera and gained the trust of often difficult subjects. Noonan managed to convey a gritty underworld which most viewers rarely see. It’s gutsy camerawork and television.
Television News ReportingBack to Top
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Seven News Victoria team, “Black Saturday Bulletin”
On Black Saturday, Seven News Melbourne went to air at the height of the disaster, using an extended hour-long bulletin to deliver graphic and comprehensive coverage of the unfolding catastrophe. The team of journalists and camera crews got right into the action, at their own risk, to bring unforgettable images of the fires’ power and devastation.
The human stories, of residents battling to save their property and the angst of those evacuated, were sensitively told. There were memorable moments, such as the man running back into the flames to retrieve his trusty Valiant. And the story became very personal for chief-of-staff Norm Beaman, who left early in the afternoon after a phone call from his terrified wife, telling him their home was under threat. Stopped at a roadbock and unable to contact her, Beaman gave a phone interview that encapsulated all the fear, confusion and desperation of Victoria’s biggest natural disaster.
Seven News is Melbourne’s top-rating news service, with a team dedicated to bringing the people of Victoria coverage of the events that affect them.
This entry met all the criteria of the awards. Considering the fires broke out mid afternoon, the team overcame the degree of difficulty filing under horrendous conditions in a bid to meet their deadline. It was incisive in its telling and adhered to all the standards expected in a late breaking story of such magnitude.
Television Current Affairs, Feature, Documentary or Special (more than 20 minutes)Back to Top
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Anna Broinowski and Sally Regan, SBS TV, “Forbidden Lie$”
At the heart of Forbidden Lie$ is a truly fascinating character – con-woman, fraudster and compulsive liar Norma Khouri. Khouri’s best-selling “memoir” of her past in Jordan, Forbidden Love, was exposed as a hoax in 2004 by Australian journalist Malcolm Knox. But instead of just exploring that narrative of hoax and discovery, Anna Broinowski’s partially dramatised documentary becomes an exploration of the nature of truth and lies.
Early in her research, Broinowski was urged by Knox to corroborate everything Khouri says. Khouri is dangerously believable, and even Broinowski finds herself taken in when she returns with her to Jordan.
The film uses production techniques, including CGI illusions and in-camera sleights of hand, in keeping with the spirit of trickery to bring the documentary to life. The interviews are excellent, tension builds magnificently and the viewing experience is almost more psychological thriller than documentary.
Anna Broinowski has been making documentaries since 1995, including Forbidden Lie$, Helen’s War, Sexing the Label and Hell Bento!!, all of which screened theatrically. She has won many awards including best film at the Rome Film Fest and the Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival, two Australian Film Institute Awards, two Australian Film Critics’ Awards, the NSW Premier’s Literary prize, best director at Films des Femmes in France, and the 2008 American Writers’ Guild award for best non-fiction screenplay.
Sally Regan has produced film and television in Australia, Europe, Asia and America for the past 17 years. In 2007 Sally was awarded The Screen Producers Association award for independent documentary producer of the year.
Despite being released two years before its broadcast on SBS TV made it eligible for entry in the Walkleys, Forbidden Lie$ holds its own as a mesmerising, psychological examination of a pathological liar. It was compelling viewing and it resonated long after the film was over. A fascinating study of a con-woman, you get to the end and you still don’t know what’s true. Great film-making, fabulous visuals.
Television Current Affairs Reporting (less than 20 minutes)Back to Top
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Andrew Geoghegan and Mary Ann Jolley, Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV, “Zimbabwe, Left to Die”
Sneaking into the country as tourists, their cameras hidden in backpacks, Andrew Geoghegan and Mary Ann Jolley chose a sensitive time to investigate the true extent of Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic. Morgan Tsvangirai was being sworn in as prime minister and Robert Mugabe’s henchmen had been arresting local journalists and opposition activists. The Mugabe regime had continually denied the existence of the epidemic and wanted to avoid international scrutiny of the appalling conditions that led to the outbreak of more than 100,000 cholera cases.
Filming undercover and working meticulously to earn the trust of humanitarian organisations fearful of reprisal, it was a delicate story to report. Geoghegan and Jolley uncovered that the United Nations was also implicated in the debacle. After their story aired, the UN conducted an internal inquiry and recommended a formal investigation into the UN humanitarian coordinator.
Andrew Geoghegan has been the ABC’s Africa correspondent since October 2006, reporting the continent’s major stories from Zimbabwe to Somalia and Darfur. After starting out as a cadet at the ABC in Perth, Geoghegan has worked in Europe, Asia and America as well as reporting for the ABC’s Lateline, Inside Business, 7.30 Report and Foreign Correspondent.
As a producer and reporter on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent since 2001, Mary Ann Jolley has filmed stories in some of the world’s most closed countries – Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Libya, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Before joining the ABC she worked on Today on Saturday and A Current Affair at the Nine Network. In 2005-2006, Mary Ann received a Harvard University Nieman Fellowship for journalism and in 2009 won the Grand Jury Prize at the New York Festivals International Television Programming and Promotions Awards.
This is the first Walkley Award for both Jolley and Geoghegan.
With an impressive depth of detail, this report shed light on Zimbabwe’s shameful secret, vividly illustrating the sights and smells of a dreadful situation facing a population that cannot tell its own story. It also uncovers shocking revelations about UN operations within Zimbabwe, with potentially far-reaching international implications.
All Media: Investigative JournalismBack to Top
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Michael McKinnon, Neil Warren, Peter Doherty and Michael Best, Seven News, “Police Corruption”
In October 2008, Michael Best and Michael McKinnon revealed allegations of widespread police corruption on the Gold Coast. They followed up an initial tip-off with Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, but due to internal police investigations the documents were kept secret. The reporters then turned to working contacts, spending months tracking down victims of the Gold Coast police’s use of “dodgy warrants”. They gained access to internal police documents and further contacts within the police force.
Eventually, more than 10 serving detectives and ex-detectives from the Gold Coast confirmed the allegations, and a former detective eventually agreed to go public, acknowledging the extraordinary efforts by Seven News to investigate the story. Investigations by Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission and police into the allegations has confirmed Gold Coast police officers raided homes without sufficient evidence.
Michael McKinnon is the Seven Network’s national FoI editor. He was previously the FoI editor with The Australian, and FoI coordinator with The Courier-Mail.
Neil Warren has been a television journalist for almost three decades, 17 years of that with the Seven Network. He spent two years as Seven’s London correspondent.
Peter Doherty began his career in Sydney and Canberra, before moving to Queensland where he has been with Seven News in Brisbane for 15 years. He won a Queensland Media Award in 2006 for a documentary on Cyclone Larry and an ACS Cinematography Award for filming a dramatic siege.
Michael Best has been a reporter with the Seven Network for the past seven years. He has won best TV news story in the Queensland Media Awards three times, in 2007, 2008 and again this year.
This is a major corruption scandal, unearthed with impressive, innovative uses of FoI, combined with persistence. It demonstrates that there is a place for genuine investigative journalism in a commercial television newsroom. It takes a certain amount of courage to expose corruption in a police force, and the journalists involved did this in a particularly riveting manner.
Broadcast and Online InterviewingBack to Top
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Tracy Grimshaw, A Current Affair, Nine Network, “Simon Cowley”, “Nick D’Arcy”, “Matthew Johns”
Tracy Grimshaw’s standout interviews for A Current Affair stand as a fitting motif for a news year where sporting achievements were regularly overshadowed by off-field scandal. Simon Cowley was the swimmer assaulted by a fellow swimmer, Nick D’Arcy, with both interviews breaking new revelations on the affair. Then in May, following on from Four Corners’ “Code of Silence” investigation into group-sex allegations, former Cronulla Sharks player Matthew Johns was stood down from his duties at the Nine Network.
Asked by Nine boss David Gyngell to be interviewed by Grimshaw, Johns reluctantly agreed; his wife Trish also wanted to take part despite Grimshaw offering her the chance to reconsider. It’s easy to imagine the incredibly tense atmosphere in the crowded interview room – Johns’ entourage included a manager, network sports colleagues and friends as well as two camera crews. The cameras only rolled at 4pm and the interview was edited on a tight deadline to lead A Current Affair at 6.30. The impact and follow-on from the interview was unavoidable.
Tracy Grimshaw has been the host of the Nine Network’s A Current Affair since January 2006. Her almost 30-year career in television journalism began with a general reporter position in Nine’s Melbourne newsroom in 1981. She has presented programs including National Nine News, Midday, Today on Saturday and Today. This is her first Walkley Award.
When Matthew Johns sat down to talk to Tracy Grimshaw, we all sat down. It was compelling television as we watched a man’s career crumble. A tense and difficult interview, with the reporter also under particular pressures, but Grimshaw proved the expert interviewer.
All Media: Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and CritiqueBack to Top
Jo Chandler, The Age, “Angola versus Angelina”
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Jo Chandler, The Age, “Angola versus Angelina”
Sometimes the best journalism – and the stories that most need to be told – are the hardest to sell to an editor. There’s no local angle; there’s no timely news hook. There’s no celebrity glitzing things up, no pop-culture reference, no social media tie-in, maybe even no driving conflict.
After travelling in Africa in October 2008, Jo Chandler had a bunch of reflections and observations that didn’t add up to a headline news story, but which she felt compelled to share nonetheless. Travelling through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chandler wanted to bring the lessons of these brittle, failed states home to a comfortable first-world audience.
At a time when first-world markets are making traditional journalism a more fragile practice, Chandler used a landscape of distressed and oppressed countries to remind readers of the role of media in underwriting democratic, equitable, accountable society. Through exquisite writing and thought-provoking commentary, Chandler succeeds in making her audience think. By finding the universal concerns and desires and experiences that connect people around the world, she reinforces her own plea for recognition of the power that good journalism can have.
Jo Chandler started her career as a cadet on her hometown paper in country Victoria. A year later she shifted to suburbans before undertaking a fellowship to study journalism in the US. She returned to a job at The Age, where she has spent the past 20 years. She has worked across the paper – from general reporter to investigations, from the night desk to Saturday editor. This is her first Walkley Award.
The elegance of Jo Chandler’s prose and the passion behind each word makes these pieces utterly compelling. This is empathetic journalism at its finest. She has aired voices which could not be heard in their own country and has brought them to vivid life. Refreshingly, Chandler has found a new way to persuade us to engage with Third World oppression and suffering. A good read.
Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the YearBack to Top
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Renee Nowytarger, The Australian
Renee Nowytarger’s body of work demonstrates her versatility; the intimacy common to her shots is an insight into the integrity and empathy that earns this world-class photojournalist the trust of her subjects. Quite aside from her skill for putting subjects from all walks of life at ease, Nowytarger has a gift for drawing out their dignity – whether in glamorously posed portraits, or the harsh daily life in some Indigenous communities.
She draws out the quiet pride of an essentially homeless Indigenous woman, who cooks over an open fire and daily rakes the sand to keep her camp home clean and free of rubbish. Some of her documentary photographs of Indigenous disadvantage have taken years of work while others, like Malcolm Turnbull’s sorrowful smoko, were snapped in a split-second.
What better endorsement can there be for a photographer than the response of Essina Sullivan, a woman of the Stolen Generation – she began to cry as she recalled her grandmother banging her fist on the boot of the car that took her from her family, but insisted that Nowytarger keep shooting as she told her story.
Renee covers the whole human experience in this rounded, versatile body of work. Renee displays empathy for her subjects. She recognised Turnbull’s human experience to get that shot. The general standard of her work is fantastic.
Best Non-fiction BookBack to Top
Graham Freudenberg, Churchill and Australia, Pan Macmillan
In all the books on Winston Churchill, references to Australia are found only by way of an index. Graham Freudenberg set out to change that with a book that tackled 65 years of Australian history and Churchill’s relationships with seven Australian prime ministers, from the eve of the Boer War to the eve of Vietnam.
The interplay between journalism and politics is a key theme, and the narrative is threaded with anecdotes such as Banjo Paterson’s thoughts on Churchill when they met as correspondents in the Boer War – and Keith Murdoch’s role in thwarting Churchill’s grand design for Gallipoli.
Freudenberg entered journalism as a cadet reporter on the Telegraph newspaper in Brisbane in 1952. He worked on the Sydney Mirror, Mildura Sunraysia Daily, Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial and GTV9 News in Melbourne. In 1961, as press secretary to federal opposition leader Arthur Calwell, Freudenberg began developing the speechwriting role for which he is best known. He crafted oratory for Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke and NSW premiers Neville Wran, Barrie Unsworth and Bob Carr. The progression to books was a natural one and before Churchill and Australia he produced A Certain Grandeur, a biography of Gough Whitlam and winner of The Age Literary Award (1977), and A Figure of Speech – A Political Memoir (2005).
Remarkably, before this magisterial work by Graham Freudenberg, no author has written a comprehensive narrative that brings together Churchill’s ongoing and profound impact on Australia – as Colonial Secretary, at Gallipoli and in the struggle over retaining Australian troops in North Africa – and a great deal more. Being Freudenberg, the words sing. The book is very relevant to understanding the structure of Australia’s foreign relations today. Freudenberg’s writing brings a lifetime of thought, experience and judgment to the subject.
Journalism LeadershipBack to Top
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Michael McKinnon, national Freedom of Information editor, Seven Network
A name synonymous with the Freedom of Information (FoI) cause in Australia, Michael McKinnon has steered a 20-year fight for Australian journalists’ role in scrutinising open, democratic government.
McKinnon lodged his first FoI request in February 1990 as a junior reporter at a regional newspaper, the archetypal applicant governments were used to steamrolling. Within six months he’d won the first of many internal reviews against a federal government secrecy clamp, a victory not only for himself but for thousands of Diggers who had trained on an asbestos-riddled disused power station, not knowing that Defence had ignored medical advice it was unsafe.
In a groundbreaking move, News Limited backed McKinnon as FoI coordinator with The Courier-Mail and FoI editor with The Australian. With News Limited’s support he took the landmark case McKinnon vs Treasury to the High Court. News Limited chief executive John Hartigan recalls “we lost that costly battle, but not the war. The case was a critical turning point, shining a light on the insidious nature of Conclusive Certificates as a government’s last resort in thwarting good reporters who get too close to the truth.”
Moving to the Seven Network, McKinnon became the country’s first FoI editor in television. This year his work contributed to Seven News winning the Walkley for best investigative reporting with its exposure of alleged police corruption on the Gold Coast. Commonwealth ombudsman John McMillan believes McKinnon has played a “pivotal role in the transformation of Australian FoI law and practice” by drawing public attention to the cause.
“He has shone a light on many government actions that would otherwise be buried from public scrutiny, on matters such as asbestos contamination, tax administration, Treasury forecasts, weapons safety, grant schemes, bulk billing and Reserve Bank decision making,” said McMillan.
Despite being one of their prime antagonists, McKinnon is held in high regard by Australian FoI decision-makers and practitioners in the Australian government. Such is his standing in the industry that even his competitors clamoured to pay tribute. An agenda-setter whose dogged work has paved the way for all those journalists who follow, Michael McKinnon is truly a leader in our industry.
Most Outstanding Contribution to JournalismBack to Top
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Tony Stephens, journalist and author
Describing himself for The Walkley Magazine in 2007, Tony Stephens wrote that he had “been a journalist for so long that he looks at the obituary page every morning and, if his name is not there, he goes to work.” It was a characteristically cheeky sign-off to an article about the art of obituary writing, something the Walkley-winning journalist and author knew a thing or two about from his well-received work on The Sydney Morning Herald’s “Timelines” page.
News that Stephens would retire from his post was received with alarm by one high-profile fan, Gough Whitlam. “One of my greatest concerns now is that Tony will be unavailable to write up my entry in ‘Timelines’,” Whitlam wrote. “At 93 years old, it is a distinct possibility at any moment. And so, as a loyal subscriber to the Herald for probably seven decades now, may I make one request of the Herald’s management? Is it possible to contract Tony to write one final piece?
“If the Herald did so, I know that it will have all the trademarks of one of Australia’s finest journalists – scrupulously fair, objective and balanced, with a certain grandeur.”
Whitlam is far from alone in his estimation of Stephens as an old-school journo of an elite class. Stephens’s career – and his influence on Australian journalism – was much more than his final working years as Timelines editor. A country boy, born just three weeks after the outbreak of World War 2, he began his career in journalism in 1961 on the Daily Mirror and after a stint in London worked with News Limited papers until 1979.
Stephens joined Fairfax and went on the edit the Sun-Herald, leading a team in the continuingly fierce battle of the Sundays. After joining The Sydney Morning Herald in 1986 as a senior writer Stephens rapidly became the newspaper’s – and some would say Sydney’s - voice on a series of major state and national events and issues. He interviewed every prime minister from John Gorton to John Howard, wrote perceptively on election campaigns, the republic and indigenous and social issues and his love of cricket shone through in a series on beautifully written pieces.
Stephens reported movingly from Anzac Cove in 1987 and later produced a book, The Last Anzacs, commemorating the incredible lives of these Australian heroes. A second book was published on Governor General Sir William Deane. He was there when Cathy Freeman took gold at the Sydney Olympics and in Hobart as the victims of the Port Arthur massacre were remembered.
When Nelson Mandela came to Australia in 1990 Stephens encapsulated the visit wonderfully in his first few page one paragraphs. “If self-trust is the essence of the hero, it became clear in St Mary’s Cathedral last evening that an old man in a dark grey suit and white socks was a hero.
“As the choir sang the African anthem, Mr Nelson Mandela stood with his left fist clenched and held above his shoulder. It was a simple gesture, though rare in most churches of the world, where congregations hear words of peace while wars are fought outside in the names of various gods. Mr Mandela’s action carried a certain revolutionary defiance but, above all, a certain faith. This was the self-trust of the hero.”
Stephens won a Walkley in 1997 for commentary, analysis, reviews and opinion.
Tony Stephens represents the best of Australian journalism. He is a consummate writer and editor whose work stands the test of time. In his long and distinguished career, Stephens has been a mentor to hundreds of journalists who have had the privilege of learning the craft of reporting from one of the nation’s best.