2017 Walkley Award categories explained

Categories have changed in 2017 — if you’re a longtime entrant, please read carefully! See our post in the Walkley Magazine for an overview of all the changes we’ve made this year.

In all cases, “report” refers to either a single report or a collection of reports covering an event, subject or issue, although entrants in most categories are limited to submitting no more than three pieces of work per category. See specific category descriptions for entry requirements.

Major categories

Gold Walkley: The Gold Walkley is the pinnacle of journalistic achievement. The winner is chosen from the category winners, excluding “Leadership” and “Outstanding contribution to journalism” awards.

Outstanding Contribution to Journalism: Recognises the achievements of a person or group for outstanding or enduring commitment to the highest standards of journalism and is chosen by the Walkley Trustees.

Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year: Entrants must submit a body of work up to ten images showing the photographer’s range and self-editing skill. Body of work can encompass any genre.

Longform Journalism

Book: The Walkley Book Award celebrates the value and importance of journalism and acknowledges the proud line-up of Australian writers who have taken subjects of enduring topicality and consequence from news bulletins, eyewitness reporting, investigations and historical records and provided readers with expanded factual detail, revelation and greater clarity of analysis in book form.

Documentary: This award recognises excellence in documentary production that is grounded in the principles of journalism — accuracy, impact, public benefit, ethics, creativity, research and reporting — together with rigorous filmmaking. The award is open to a variety of documentary storytelling styles and the judges will be looking for courage and creativity in concept, approach and execution. Documentaries may encompass in-depth examination of issues of local, national or international importance or of contemporary or historic events and may include investigative, biographical and first person stories that reflect the emotion and drama of the human experience. Entries that have appeared within regularly scheduled television current affairs programs must be documentary in nature and execution.

Print/Text Journalism

The following categories recognise journalism delivered primarily as written word, across print or digital media.

News report: This category recognises excellence in news journalism created for text formats. It recognises the diverse skills of the news reporter/journalist – not just for breaking news but for all the other elements that make a great story under the pressure of deadlines – tenacity, writing ability, accuracy, ethics, research, impact and great storytelling.  The emphasis of this award is on solid, gripping reporting and outstanding individual (or small team) efforts in covering a news story. Entries in this category may be a single news report or no more than three related reports on the same subject.

Feature writing short (under 4,000 words): Based on a single entry, this category recognises short-form newspaper and magazine-style feature writing in print or digital. The focus of this award remains on quality writing. It celebrates excellence in the craft of feature writing and storytelling, with prime consideration given to the written word and research ability as well as originality, creativity, impact and technique. (This award is also open to multi-media packages where writing is the primary medium.)

Feature writing long (over 4,000 words): Primarily and critically, this award is judged on the quality of writing and narrative skill in written works over 4000 words. Based on a single entry, this award recognises long form journalism that shines a light, tells a compelling story or provides in-depth analysis and investigation. It also recognises reporting excellence, accuracy, storytelling, originality and high standards of ethics and research. (This award is also open to multi-media packages where writing is the primary medium.)

Photography

This platform recognises visual journalists producing still photography for any platform. Criteria include storytelling, courage, public impact, creativity, innovative use of technology, technical ability and resourcefulness and can include sound slides and photo film.

News photography: Newsworthiness, impact, technical superiority, creativity and originality will be looked at in this category. News photography encompasses a range of news photography from an exclusive or spontaneous news moment or images depicting news values on the day. The images should represent a story or event not a series on a theme.

Sport photography: This category will reward those who capture the emotion and drama of sport. Entries may show action and/or feature imagery in the sporting arena. Will be judged on up to five images. These do not have to be related and can represent a body of work.

Feature/photographic essay: Between 5 and 12 images of a feature story or essay, of which one photograph must have been published on any platform.

Nikon Photography Prizes

These are not Walkley Awards, but prizes administered by the Walkley Foundation on behalf of Nikon. These photos appear in the Nikon-Walkley Press Photography exhibition, which travels across Australia each year.

Photo of the Year: Recognises an outstanding “hero” image worthy of individual celebration and recognition. Judges will select a single image that defines the year from photographs submitted across all categories in the awards.

Portrait Prize: Recognising excellence in portraiture, photographers can enter a single image.

Community/Regional Prize: Celebrating the best work of photographers working in regional and community media, entries for this prize can comprise up to five images.

New! Contemporary Australian Daily Life Prize: A single picture or a series of up to 5 still images with an emphasis on stories of originality and human interest.

Radio/Audio Journalism

This platform recognises journalism produced primarily in an audio format, for radio or digital platforms.

News and Current Affairs: This category recognises excellence in news and current affairs journalism produced in audio formats, taking into consideration the immediacy and unique demands of the medium. This award acknowledges the special skills required to present content for radio and digital broadcast, including interviews and podcasts. In particular, the judges will reward work demonstrating the best elements of the platform – accuracy, immediacy, incisiveness, research and production skill, originality, public impact and a gripping story. Entries in this category may be a single news report or no more than three related reports on the same subject.

Audio Feature: Based on a single story, this category recognises audio feature productions and journalistic research programs focusing on in-depth information, utilising the crafts of storytelling and/or investigative journalism. This award acknowledges the unique skills required to present content for radio and digital broadcast, including documentaries and podcasts. Judges will recognise excellence in long-form current affairs, highlighting research, impact, storytelling, investigation, analysis and public impact.

Television/Video Journalism

This platform recognises journalism primarily produced in video formats, for television, film and digital platforms.

News Reporting: This category recognises the skill of producing quality news journalism in television and video formats under deadline pressure. The emphasis of this award is on solid, gripping reporting, clarity of message and outstanding individual or team efforts in covering a news story. In particular, the judges will reward work demonstrating accuracy, immediacy, incisiveness, public impact and storytelling ability. Entries in this category may be a single news report or no more than three related reports on the same subject from any program, i.e. news, current affairs or online.

New! Current Affairs Short (less than 20 minutes): Recognising current affairs and analysis of unfolding news events and interviews in short formats. Reports will be judged on originality, newsworthiness, public benefit, courage and impact as well as production expertise and writing. Entries in this category may be a single story or no more than three related reports on the same subject.

New! Current Affairs Long (more than 20 minutes):This category will recognise excellence in long-form current affairs, including interviews, highlighting research, storytelling, investigative journalism and analysis as well as impact. Documentary programs are not eligible to enter the television current affairs category. Entries in this category must be a single story.

Camerawork: This award recognises excellence in camerawork in Australian news, current affairs and documentary as well as videography and photo films in digital formats, representing the highest standards of the craft. Entrants can choose to submit a single piece of footage or up to three pieces of work showcasing a body of work.

All Media

New! Innovation: This category recognises journalism that pushes the craft forward in innovative and creative ways, while also honouring the skills in getting and telling a great story. Entrants are encouraged to enter journalism which explores new techniques for news-gathering and distribution, new formats for consumption, new modes of audience interaction, experiments, technology or new products.  “Innovation” could also involve clever use of more “traditional” news-gathering and storytelling techniques (eg successfully using FOI or data journalism in a new, creative way). Entrants can link to a single project and are encouraged to explain how their project is innovative in their entry statement. See our Walkley Magazine post: Here’s what we’re looking for with our new Walkley Award for Innovation in Journalism.

Coverage of a Major News Event or Issue: Primarily, this is an award that recognises the valuable role of teamwork and organisational commitment as well as journalistic skill in coverage of an issue or event.  Judges will take into consideration criteria such as impact, accuracy, immediacy, creativity and journalism that provides context and deeper understanding to a story, issue or area of public debate. Available resources, live broadcast considerations and the pressures of breaking news will also be factored in the judging process. Entries are open to all media and should be packaged to represent a showcase of the work. Each entry should include the initial story that led to the subsequent coverage over the course of days, weeks and months. For television and audio entries this means an initial story accompanied by up to 90 minutes of compiled footage. Print entries should include the initial story and up to five subsequent stories. Digital entries should include all relevant web links. Entry statements should include a summary of the story or issue, an outline of the response or planning and a timeline or rundown of events/reports.

Scoop of the Year: This award seeks to recognise the journalistic resourcefulness applied to breaking news through what is traditionally known as a ‘scoop’. A scoop is defined as an exclusive report which contains revelatory facts which inform and change public understanding or knowledge of an issue or event. The judges will be looking for a significant revelation, with public impact. It will display the skill of the journalist in getting the information and having it published or broadcast, and the degree of difficulty in so doing. Supporting documentation should include a chronology and must include and document the exact moment of broadcast or publication. Entries in this category may be a single story or no more than three related reports on the same subject.

Business Journalism: This award recognises excellence in business, economics and finance journalism. Judges will give special regard to newsworthiness, public benefit, storytelling, impact, incisiveness and research. Entries in this category may be a single story or no more than three related reports on the same subject.

Coverage of Community & Regional Affairs: This category is open only to journalists working in the suburban or regional media and recognises their role in reporting on and informing their local communities. Regional media shall be taken to include areas outside of Australian capital cities and the ACT, but does include Darwin. Entrants can choose to submit a single piece of work or three pieces of work showcasing a body of work.

Investigative Journalism: Recognising its valuable role, this category will reward well-researched and presented investigations. Works will be judged on accuracy, ethics, tenacity and public benefit. Entries in this category may be a single story or no more than three related reports on the same subject.

Coverage of Indigenous Affairs: This award recognises excellence in coverage of indigenous issues. Journalists and photographers working in both the indigenous and mainstream media are encouraged to enter. Entrants can choose to submit a single piece of work or three pieces of work showcasing a body of work.

Sports Journalism: This award recognises the diverse skills of the sports journalist and the elements that make a great sports story – tenacity, accuracy, ethics, research, great storytelling and the capacity to capture and share the emotion in sport. Entries in this category may be a single story or no more than three related reports on the same subject.

New! Public Service Journalism: This award aims to celebrate journalism’s role in informing citizens as part of our democratic system. It is about journalism that aims to make a difference, with tangible public benefit to the community. Journalism which this award encourages can include: Good civic journalism which gives a voice to the voiceless in our community; Journalism which starts a public debate on an important issue; Journalism which exposes incompetence or wrongdoing by those who should be working for the common good, especially in government or any institutions affecting the public; Journalism which points to solutions to important issues within the community or society which it serves. Entries in this category may be a single story or no more than three related reports on the same subject.

Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique: This category is open to journalists involved in comment and analysis and includes leader writers, reviewers, opinion columnists and bloggers across the spectrum of discussion and debate, including arts, sports, business and politics. Entrants should submit three samples, not necessarily related, to be judged as indicative of their work.

New! Headline, Caption or Hook: This award recognises the art of witty and succinct journalism that grabs attention across all media. It is open to all journalists, sub-editors and digital content producers whose job it is to attract readers and viewers with short-form formats and clever use of language. Entrants will be judged on three samples of their work, which could include tweets, instagram captions, TV and radio promos.

New! Production: This category recognises the work of producers, artists and designers in bringing stories to life across all media. Entrants will be judged on imaginative and effective use of the medium, and their ability to curate and produce story elements to make information accessible and attractive to the audience. Entries could comprise artwork or graphics, a page or program, or the work of a production team. The elements involved could include audio, animation, illustrations, photos, graphics, video, virtual reality or other emerging media. The judges will be rewarding work that creates a rich experience for the audience. Entries in this category must comprise a single entry.

Cartoon: Creativity, innovation, wit and style will ideally combine with newsworthiness and artistic technique for the winner of the best cartoon award. Based on a single cartoon entry.