Judges for the 2014 Jacoby-Walkley Scholarship have taken the unusual step of selecting two recipients after being unable to choose between two outstanding finalists.
Megan Stafford (James Cook University) and Kirrily Schwarz (Deakin University) both won after six finalists were quizzed on career ambitions and knowledge by a high-profile panel of judges: Anita Jacoby (ITV Australia managing director), Darren Wick (Nine Network director of news and current affairs) and media industry veterans, Tom Krause and Jim Waley.
Jacoby said the six finalists had all impressed judges with their depth of knowledge, professionalism and enthusiasm for a career in TV journalism and choosing a winner was “almost impossible”.
She said Megan’s warm personality, passion for news and instinctive storytelling abilities meant she would be a “real journalistic force” in the years to come. Kirrily’s natural intelligence, depth of general knowledge and inquiring nature meant she was also assured of a fantastic career.
“Megan and Kirrily both display a great passion for ideas, sourcing talent and storytelling – the lifeblood of all good journalism,” Jacoby said.
Wick said Megan’s attitude to journalism could be summed up in one word: “Hunger”.
“She wants to chase stories, she has a burning desire to get the story and broadcast it first,” Wick said. “This is what every executive producer and news director looks for in a reporter.”
He also lauded Kirrily for her “intelligence and a curiosity that impels her to ask questions beyond the obvious”: “She’s not satisfied with knowing what happened,” Wick said.
“She needs to find out why something happened, is it still happening and what forces are at play that could determine whether it happens again. She is a natural investigator.”
Wick said while the winners had different personalities, both stood out for their tenacity and “sheer desire to tell a story – both in the submissions they entered and during their interviews as finalists”.
“They both deserved to win … I believe both women will derive enormous benefit and inspiration from their scholarships,” Wick said. “This experience, I believe, will be the springboard for wonderful careers”.
The annual scholarship was established in 2013 with the generous support of Anita Jacoby in honour of her father Phillip, a pioneer in the broadcasting industry.
Both recipients will spend eight weeks at the Nine Network in Sydney (working on 60 Minutes, A Current Affair, Today and in the newsroom) and four weeks at The Walkley Foundation for Journalism, as well as participate in at least one TV production course through the open program at AFTRS.
They will also be mentored by senior journalists on the Walkley Advisory Board and work with and learn from some of Australia’s leading news and current affairs journalists and producers.
“I’d like to thank Louisa Graham and the Walkley Foundation for helping make my dreams of a TV journalism scholarship in my father’s memory, a reality,” Jacoby said. “I’d also like to thank my fellow judges, Darren Wick, Jim Waley and Tom Krause for so generously devoting their time and expertise.
“Finally, the Jacoby-Walkley Scholarship wouldn’t exist without the invaluable support of the Nine Network and the Australian Film TV & Radio School.”
The Walkley Foundation congratulates other finalists in the 2014 scholarship: Saskia Edwards (Queensland University of Technology), Jack Fisher (University of Technology Sydney), Nathan Roye (Sydney University) and Aneeka Simonis (Swinburne University of Technology).
For more information about the scholarship’s judging criteria, visit http://walkleys.com/get-involved/scholarships/scholarships-criteria-judging/.
The Walkley Foundation thanks Anita Jacoby and family, the Nine Network and AFTRS for their generous support.
Media Enquiries: Flip Prior, The Walkley Foundation communications and partnerships manager T: +61 2 9333 0956 | M: +61 409 912 955 | E: email@example.com| @walkleys