Samantha Maiden has won the Gold Walkley, Australian journalism’s highest honour, for her reporting for news.com.au on “Open secret: The Brittany Higgins story”. 

The judges said “Samantha Maiden broke the story of Brittany Higgins’ allegation of sexual assault in Parliament House and pursued it fiercely for weeks. Her powerful reporting revealed significant new angles that built a disturbing picture of the mistreatment of women in Australian politics and fuelled a national discussion about gender relations that dominated public affairs in 2021.”

Alex Coppel was named the Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year for a body of work spanning  sport, breaking news, features and daily life, all loosely linked by the shadow that the COVID-19 pandemic cast over world events. Kate Holden’s The Winter Road (Black Inc.) won the Walkley Book Award. The Walkley Documentary Award went to Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra, from Ivan O’Mahoney, Wayne Blair and Nel Minchin for In Films and ABC.

The award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism went to one of Australia’s most recognisable journalists and interviewers, George Negus. Known for his charisma, his peerless and fearless approach, and his signature moustache, Negus has reported through decades of technological, political and social change for news organisations including, ABC, SBS, Channel Nine, Network 10, The Australian and The Australian Financial Review.

The 66th Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism were presented in 30 categories, announced tonight in Sydney.

The Walkley Foundation’s chief executive, Shona Martyn, said:

“The Walkley Awards are, without doubt, the highlight of the year for Australian journalists. After Covid-19 forced a virtual ceremony in 2020 and the postponement of the presentation of the 2021 awards, it is brilliant that we have finally been able to celebrate these achievements in person. Hearty congratulations to all the 2021 winners and finalists.”

The chair of the Walkley Judging Board, Michael Brissenden, praised the range and depth of this year’s winning entries, which must have been published, broadcast or televised in Australia in the 12 months from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021. 

“This year, the judges had a difficult job picking winners among so many high quality entries across the 30 award categories that covered an incredibly broad range of subjects; from Covid-19 to the war in Afghanistan, mental health, underprivileged Australians, sexual harassment, racism and the Tokyo Olympics. The winning entries showcase the pinnacle of Australian journalism, long-form writing and photojournalism,” he said. 

Winners of the Walkley Awards were selected by the Walkley Judging Board in October, after first round peer-judging in September. You can find information about the Walkley Awards judging process here and the Terms and Conditions of the Awards here

The Walkley Foundation has a mechanism for dealing with any conflict of interest, actual or perceived, that may arise during the judging process. The guidelines are based on the principle that all actual conflicts of interest are to be avoided and that even a perceived conflict may be damaging to all parties. You can read more about the conflict guidelines here.

The list of winners follows. Photos by Adam Hollingworth.

For media enquiries, contact: 

66th Walkley Award Winners

PRINT/TEXT NEWS REPORT
Award Partner Media Super
Kate McClymont, The Sydney Morning Herald, “The Lady Vanishes: Melissa Caddick and the missing millions

PUBLIC SERVICE JOURNALISM
Award Partner Sydney Airport
Naaman Zhou, Guardian Australia, “Australia’s delivery deaths: the riders who never made it and the families left behind”, “’They don’t have brakes, the tyres are gone’: food delivery companies accused of bike safety failures” and “Uber Eats riders earning as little as $5 for deliveries crossing multiple NSW suburbs

INNOVATION
Award Partner Google News Initiative
Kylie Boltin, Ella Rubeli, Ravi Vasavan and Emma Anderson, SBS, “Ravi and Emma

HEADLINE, CAPTION OR HOOK
Award Partner ACM
Duska Sulicich, The Age, “Michael rolled, the vote assured, Hallelujah!”, “It’s all a bit cray-cray” and “The Art of the Steal”

FEATURE WRITING LONG (OVER 4000 WORDS)
Award Partner Facebook
Andrew Quilty, The Monthly, “The Worst Form of Defence: New revelations of Australian war crimes in Afghanistan

FEATURE WRITING SHORT (UNDER 4000 WORDS)
Award Partner The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age
Tom Patterson, The Australian, “Searching for a lost soul

COVERAGE OF INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS
Award Partner PwC Indigenous Consulting
Karla Grant, Julie Nimmo, Michael Carey, Mark Bannerman and the Living Black Team, Living Black, NITV, “Taken”, “Missing Pieces” and “Heritage Victory

COVERAGE OF COMMUNITY OR REGIONAL AFFAIRS
Award Partner BHP
Andrew Messenger, Northern Daily Leader, “‘You feel so powerless’: little room for kids in rural mental health”, “Banksia Mental Health Unit: children’s services ruled not ‘economies of scale’ in plan for new mental health unit” and “Tamworth Banksia Mental Health modelling says New England North West won’t need more general-purpose beds until 2031

CARTOON
Award Partner Epson
David Pope, The Canberra Times, “Rollout de Vax”

SPORTS JOURNALISM
Michael Warner, Herald Sun, “‘Do Better’: The Secret Collingwood Racism Report

SPORT PHOTOGRAPHY
Alex Coppel, Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Courier-Mail and The Advertiser, “The Games that Had to Happen”

RADIO/AUDIO NEWS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS
Award Partner ABC
Sally Sara and Victoria Pengilley, RN Breakfast and The World Today, ABC, “Afghanistan Interviews

RADIO/AUDIO FEATURE
Award Partner Telum Media
Angus Grigg and Lap Phan, The Australian Financial Review, “The Sure Thing

PRODUCTION
Rhiona-Jade Armont and the 101 East team, Al Jazeera English, “This is Myanmar’s State of Fear

SCOOP OF THE YEAR
Award Partner Nine News
Ellen Whinnett, The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, The Advertiser and The Courier-Mail, “The AN0M Files”

COVERAGE OF A MAJOR NEWS EVENT OR ISSUE
Award Partner Sky News Australia
Samantha Maiden and the news.com.au team, news.com.au, “Open Secret: The Brittany Higgins story”

NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY
Brook Mitchell, The Sydney Morning Herald, “Sydney Anti-Lockdown Protest”

BUSINESS JOURNALISM
Award Partner ING
Caitlyn Rintoul, The West Australian, “Police investigating alleged sexual assault at BHP’s South Flank mine near Newman”, “WA mining giants unite for apology to female mine workers and back calls for sex assault inquiry” and “Mine site sexual harassment inquiry: Submission shows BHP sacked dozens of WA workers

FEATURE/PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY
Award Partner Canva
Dean Sewell, The Sun-Herald, “Of Mice and Men”

TELEVISION/VIDEO: CAMERAWORK
Andy Taylor, ABC TV, “Exposed – The Ghost Train Fire

TELEVISION/VIDEO NEWS REPORTING
Award Partner Seven
Peter Fegan and Rebeka Powell, Nine News 6pm, Nine, “The Investigation of Andrew Laming”

TELEVISION/VIDEO CURRENT AFFAIRS SHORT (LESS THAN 20 MINUTES)
Award Partner SBS
Christine Ahern, A Current Affair, Nine, “Epping Disgrace

TELEVISION/VIDEO CURRENT AFFAIRS LONG (MORE THAN 20 MINUTES)
Award Partner TEN News First and The Project
Nick McKenzie and Joel Tozer, 60 Minutes, Nine, “Nazis Next Door

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
Award Partner AGL
Nick McKenzie and Joel Tozer, 60 Minutes and The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Nine, “Nazis Next Door”, “Inside Racism HQ: How home-grown neo-Nazis are plotting a white revolution” and “From kickboxing to Adolf Hitler: the neo-Nazi plan to recruit angry young men

COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS, OPINION AND CRITIQUE
Award Partner Thomson Geer Lawyers
Katharine Murphy, Guardian Australia, “Brittany Higgins’ shocking story must be a turning point. Women in politics have had enough”, “Canberra’s pale, stale and male tribe is missing the moment – as it did with Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech” and “Scott Morrison’s efforts to engage with women are more ‘me’ than mea culpa

WALKLEY DOCUMENTARY AWARD
Award Partner NSW Government
Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra, Ivan O’Mahoney, Wayne Blair and Nel Minchin, In Films, ABC

WALKLEY BOOK AWARD
Award Partner Banki Haddock Fiora
Kate Holden, The Winter Road, Black Inc.

NIKON-WALKLEY PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
Award Partner Nikon
Alex Coppel, Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Courier-Mail 

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO JOURNALISM
Award Partner News Corp Australia
George Negus

GOLD WALKLEY
Samantha Maiden
news.com.au, “Open secret: The Brittany Higgins story”

For media enquiries, contact: 

The 2021 Walkley Judging Board were:

  • Chair: Michael Brissenden, senior journalist and author
  • Deputy Chair: Claire Harvey, editorial director, The Australian (abstained from judging in 2021)
  • Natalie Ahmat, NITV News
  • Michael Bachelard, The Age
  • Neil Breen, 4BC Breakfast
  • Jane Doyle, Seven News Adelaide
  • Narelda Jacobs, Network Ten
  • Deborah Knight, 2GB
  • Stella Lauri, WIN Television
  • Dean Lewins, AAP
  • Hamish Macdonald, ABC and Network 10
  • Mark Mallabone, The West Australian
  • Bhakthi Puvanenthiran, ABC Everyday
  • Tory Shepherd, Guardian Australia
  • Cameron Stewart, The Australian