In 1956, while our sportspeople were collecting gold medals at the Melbourne Olympics, Australia’s journalists were receiving their first Walkley Awards...
The awards were started with five categories by Ampol Petroleum founder Sir William Gaston Walkley. William Walkley appreciated the media’s support for his oil exploration efforts. He envisaged awards that recognised emerging talent in the Australian media. Since then, winning stories have chronicled Australia’s history, people and events.
The Walkleys grew organically to 21 categories over the passing decades, as television news came of age and different reporting niches were recognised. In 1995, the Walkleys underwent a major review which resulted in a massive expansion of the awards to encompass all major areas of the media. The number of categories grew from 21 to 30, and the two-tier judging system was introduced, modelled on the Pulitzers’ judging system. The review also established the Walkley Advisory Board appointed by the Media Alliance.
Subsequently the Alliance formally established the Walkley Foundation under by-laws endorsed by the Federal Council of the Alliance. These by-laws delegate the trusteeship to the nationally elected officers who are members of the media section of the Alliance plus the chair of the Walkley Advisory Board. The trustees are responsible for the oversight of the administration and management of the Foundation. The Walkley Advisory Board is charged with responsibility for judging of the Walkley Awards and advising the trustees on matters relating to the Awards. Read more about the Walkley Advisory Board here.
Another review of the Walkleys was undertaken in 2008-09, and you can read more about those changes to the awards here. The Walkley Advisory Board is conducting a major review of the Walkley Awards in 2013, examining a wide range of issues including award categories, eligibility requirements and judging. Read more about this review here.
The Foundation’s broad aims are to support and encourage professional and ethical journalism and promote and reward excellence in the Australian media. To do this it manages the Walkley competition and other awards, and hosts a year-round professional development program for journalists and media professionals. It also produces The Walkley Magazine – Inside the Australian Media – full colour bi-monthly media magazine mailed to around 10,000 media professionals.
In 2008, 34 awards were presented across all areas of print, radio, television and online journalism, including the coveted Gold Walkley. The awards were given on November 27 at Melbourne’s Crown Palladium for work done in the 12 months ending August 31. This year the 54th Walkley Awards will be celebrated in Sydney on Thursday November 26.
In over half a century, the Walkley Awards have been the inspiration for hundreds of great careers in journalism.
The Trustees are the senior elected officials of the media section of the Alliance, plus the chair of the Walkley Advisory board. Elections take place every three years. Currently the Trustees are:
- Laurie Oakes
- Stuart Washington
- Chris Warren
- Gina McColl
- Philippa McDonald