The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax Media




Print/Text: Feature Writing Short (Under 4,000 words)

The ancient city of Mosul’s devastation by Islamic State may feel unthinkably tragic and distant, but Michael Bachelard has tapped into visceral, personal stories to help readers find insight through a common humanity. Visiting hospitals, mass graves, military bases and homes, Bachelard’s stories introduce us to people both resilient and exhausted by the ravages of war. 

Kate Geraghty’s photography and The Age Multimedia Team’s design and subtle video elements help immerse readers into the atmosphere of a city and a situation far from the understanding of most. 

Bachelard is the editor of The Age investigations unit and the foreign editor of Fairfax Media. He began his journalism career at The Canberra Times in 1990 before moving to Melbourne with roles at The Melbourne Times and The Australian. In 2006 he joined The Age investigative unit, then The Sunday Age, and served as Fairfax’s Indonesia correspondent 2012-15. Bachelard was executive producer of the Phoebe’s Fall podcast, and authored The Great Land Grab, and Behind the Exclusive Brethren. After wins in 2010 (Business) and 2015 (Print/Text News Report with Armando Cordoba), Bachelard is now a four-time Walkley Award winner, including this year’s Gold Walkley. 

Geraghty has worked as a photographer since 1997, and with Fairfax since 2002. She’s covered stories around the globe that have won her a raft of awards. Her mantelpiece now has seven Walkley Awards, counting her wins this year in this category along with the Gold and Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year (see page 38). Adding to her profile are the numerous photo essays and award-winning multimedia projects she has produced for all platforms. 

Judges’ comments:

“The real war begins” is an insightful account of the tragedy that befell Mosul, powerfully conveyed through the stories of its victims. Bachelard and his team worked under difficult conditions to gather a dozen personal accounts from sources on the ground, distilling a decade of history into a fast-paced feature.