Radio/Audio: News and Current Affairs Journalism

What lay beneath the soil in prime farming land in Queensland’s Darling Downs was a closely guarded government secret at the heart of this report. A big story in every way – geographically, politically, economically – the reporters captured the human cost as farmers lost crops and individuals suffered ill health from the toxic gases leaking from an experimental plant run by Linc Energy. Queensland’s environment department was forced to admit workers at the plant were exposed to a range of poisonous gases.

Mark Willacy is an investigative reporter for the ABC’s National Reporting Team and is based in Brisbane. Before that he was a foreign correspondent for 10 years in the Middle East and North Asia, reporting for the ABC in more than 30 countries. He has won Walkley Awards for his coverage of the 2003 Iraq War and the 2011 Japan tsunami and consequent nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima. Willacy’s book about the meltdowns, Fukushima, was long-listed for a Walkley Book award and is being translated into Japanese. He has won the Eureka Prize for journalism and is a former Queensland Journalist of the Year.

Mark Solomons is an investigative journalist with more than 20 years’ experience in print and broadcast. He spent 10 years at the Financial Times in London before coming to Australia in 2009. Since joining the ABC’s National Reporting Team in 2013, he has produced and reported stories for TV, radio and online on police corruption, white-collar crime and the environment, among other topics. He won a Walkley in 2014 with the ABC’s Matt Brown for a story on Australia’s first suicide bomber. Solomons was named Queensland Journalist of the Year in 2013 for his work with The Courier-Mail’s Kelmeny Fraser exposing state MP Scott Driscoll.

Judges’ comments:

Willacy and Solomons’ revelation of one of Australia’s most significant environmental contamination is a compelling piece of journalism. When a government department has the hide to hire a private investigator to track a journalist in an attempt to discover a whistleblower’s identity, it’s a good indication the journalist has bravely ruffled some political feathers.