The Big Dry


The Maitland Mercury




All Media: Coverage of Community and Regional Affairs

Belinda-Jane Davis used a range of multimedia to shine a light on the drought and its impact on farmers, their families and their livelihoods. Her coverage showed the faces of the drought, through before-and-after photo sliders, interactive maps, photo galleries, Facebook Livestreams, video footage, infograms and user generated content.

But just telling the story wasn’t enough. In June she started “Buy A Bale” campaigns in a number of regions—raising money to buy hay, water and groceries for farming families—with the support of 37 sister mastheads. Collectively, The Big Dry Drought Appeal has raised more than $3.5 million. Davis and Fairfax Media also launched a petition, calling on the NSW Government to provide more support for drought-stricken farmers, collecting the required 10,000 signatures for a debate in the NSW Parliament.

Davis has been a journalist with Fairfax Media for 10 years and is based at The Maitland Mercury. She is also a fifth-generation farmer who is passionate about preserving local food bowls, food security and biodiversity.

Judges’ comments:

“Belinda-Jane Davis showed great passion and tenacity to ensure the crippling drought received the media attention it long deserved. Despite the strained resources of a regional newspaper and constant shutdowns from various politicians, Davis persisted. The worst drought in more than 100 years had long been ignored by the metro media, but Davis’s coverage ensured it finally became front page news and held responsible politicians to account.”