The Sydney Morning Herald




Young Journalist of the Year Awards
Text based journalism

Erik Jensen (@ErikOJensen) started in journalism at the age of 15, working as a critic and features writer for Sydney’s largest music magazine, The Drum Media. A year later, he was offered a job writing on music for the Sydney Morning Herald, where he contributed weekly reviews and occasional opinion. He finished school as a Premier’s Best All-Rounder and, in 2007, became a news reporter with the Herald – the youngest person to join the paper’s news staff in two decades. In the past three years, he has written on social affairs, politics, television and the arts. His work has detailed sex abuse in the Catholic church, the presence of Chinese intelligence networks in Australia and the misuse of government money during World Youth Day. He has worked in the paper’s Canberra bureau, and filed reports from the flood zones of central western NSW and the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. He has written features from Australia’s dying mining towns and pen-portraits from Macquarie Bank’s redundancy parties. His columns on politics and culture have appeared on the paper’s opinion pages and he has worked occasionally for its back-page gossip column. Last year he won a United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Award for his reporting on abuses in the international education sector, exposing rorts and mistreatment that ultimately led to the Baird Review into the industry. He is also the author of an unfinished biography on the artist Adam Cullen.

Judges’ comments:

“Erik Jensen’s body of work reveals a journalist of extraordinary ability, regardless of age. His highly-researched work exposing unscrupulous educational institutions exploiting foreign students led to the establishment of the Baird review and many anticipated reforms of one of Australia’s biggest export industries. On the other end of the spectrum, the almost Simpsons-esque revelation that Taronga Zoo had sold exotic animals to game shooters was a left-field but incredibly captivating story that eventually forced the NSW Government to abandon a key alliance with the Shooters Party.”