AWARDS

Previous RPCV Journalism and Photography Awards Winners

2017 Winners

Best News Story

Sponsored by VFF

Commended: Ballarat Christian Brothers 'mislead police' over abuse, Charlotte King, ABC News Online

Judge's comments: King successfully locates an original, disturbing and significant news angle buried not only deep in time, but in a mountain of documents released by the Child Sexual Abuse Royal Commission. She didn't follow the media pack, but instead sought to find a story that would both serve her local audience and help shape the national discussion.

Highly Commended: Barnaby Joyce on receiving end of SA minister's tirade, Natalie Kotsios, The Weekly Times

Judge's comments: Kotsios' exclusive report ignited a political firestorm. It's an example of a journalist working sources to confirm minor-though shocking- details of a significant private meeting. In this case, a politician's use of profane language against political friends and foes alike while negotiating the management of the Murray Darling Basin. The story details (such as the Ministers' ice cream consumption) that help create an engrossing image of the event.

Winner: MedsASSIST Loopholes, Bridget Judd, ABC South West Victoria

Judges comments: Judd invested a large amount of time researching the illegal proliferation of over-the-counter drugs and earning the trust of an addict, ultimately convincing them to tell their personal story. This effort paid off in an engaging piece, which used a hyper-local lens to explore an issue of national significance. The lengthy report is held together by a strong narrative structure, sharp writing, an assured delivery and the exceptional use of natural sound and music.

Best Feature Story - Broadcast

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: Naloxone barriers, Bridget Judd, ABC South West Victoria

Judge's comments: Bridget's radio feature addressed opioid addiction in Victoria and investigated the use of Naloxone, an opioid overdose 'antidote', using local and global experiences. It was a well-crafted, thoughtful piece of journalism.

Highly Commended: Global efforts to eradicate hunger, Brett Worthington, ABC RN Country Breakfast

Judge's comments: Brett's feature shed a new light on a worthy topic, through the use of remarkable face-to-face actuality from cattle herders in South Sudan, agripoliticians in the US and researchers in Australia. It took us from the poorest of farming countries to one of the richest, and looked at the challenges for ensuring food security for all.

Winner: Pipis and prejudice, Fiona Pepper, ABC RN Off Track

Judge's comments: Fiona's feature on pipi harvesting in Venus Bay, and the resentment of the townspeople towards crowds of Asian families coming from Melbourne to take their resource, was a beautifully crafted, intelligent and entertaining radio feature. The use of natural sound and descriptive language transports the listener to Venus Bay, and the selection of articulate interview talent to flesh out the angels in the story and offer humour and frank insights was testament to the reporter's skill.

Best Feature Story - non daily newspapers

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: Lest We Forget, Natalie MacGregor, The Spectator

Judge's comments: Almost 50 years after fighting in the Vietnam War, Hamilton man Anthony Wright made the return trip with wife Erin. MacGregor's story captured the essence of the relationship between this couple, and the scars that Vietnam caused so many. Tightly written MacGregor still ensured the emotion of the event was understood by the reader.

Highly Commended: Not awarded

Winner: Beyond Silence , Tara Fry, Hamilton The Spectator

Judge's comments: With this piece Fry takes us into the world of a father and daughter, both suffering from bipolar. She demonstrates an attribute of all good journalists in the writing of this story: the ability to build rapport. It's a tough story to write, and one she clearly took care with.

Best Feature Story - daily and state based newspapers

Sponsored by Coles

Commended: Sold down the river, Christopher Testa, Sunraysia Daily

Judge's comments: Testa charts the challenges (BAHK-uhn-jee) Paakantji man Graham Clarke's Mungo National Park tour business faced, when he was priced out of the competition by the New South Wales government. He could have quite easily just got carried away with the story opportunity and made it an all guns blazing rant but he kept it controlled and balanced which I think in the end was a strength of the feature.

Highly Commended: The final days of Glenn Sanders, Matt Neal, The Warrnambool Standard

Judge's comments: Neal spent a week in the coronial inquest into the death of Derrinallum man Glenn Sanders, who died in an explosion during a stand-off with police in 2014. Neal did a great job of summing up five days of coronial inquest, with a writing style that transcends the day-to-day approach to court reporting.

Winner: James McLure's Journey, Greg Dundas, Geelong Advertiser

Judge's comments: Feature writing is about bringing out the character and personality of the person while telling their story and Dundas achieved that with his piece on James McClure. The story charts the gifted sportsman's near-20-year battle with mental health issues , most notably depression and schizophrenia. The feature also has the added benefit of helping individuals and families who read it - showing them there is hope if they get help.

Best Feature Series - non-daily newspapers

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: Tyrendarra's centenary of celebration, Benjamin Fraser, Portland Observer and Guardian

Judge's comments: The series of articles leading up to and then reporting on the 100th Tyrendarra show rekindle memories of when shows were the centrepiece of local communities. The articles succeeded in showing how one small rural community had defied the odds to maintain and grow its show. The series has a happy ending with 4000 visitors to the event revealing that some old-time symbols of local community success are still in force.

Highly commended: Wimmera Young Farmers, Erin Witmitz, Wimmera Farmer

Judge's comments: Farming is the cornerstone of the economy in the Wimmera. Often the image of farmers is of a weather-beaten older men but this feature highlights the next crop of farmers. By using personal profile stories, presented in a simple but effective manner, the series connects well with the local farming community, and gives those who aren't working in agriculture an appreciation of why those that do enjoy the lifestyle and the challenge.

Winner: Hazelwood Through the Years, Stephanie Charalambous, Jarrod Whittaker, Paul Grant, Bryce Eishold and Farrah Plummer, Latrobe Valley Express

Judge's comments: The changing importance and differing community attitudes towards the Hazelwood power station is nicely captured in this well written, illustrated and designed historic liftout. A timeline of events recognises the important milestones, but the photos and personal stories really tell the story. Not only does the series reflect the importance of the station, it successfully captures the changing times of the region.

Best Feature Series - daily and state based newspapers

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: What becomes of the broken hearted, Nigel McNay, Border Mail

Judge's comments: The newspaper and author must be congratulated on taking up this issue. It is a fine example of a newspaper's responsibility to be the voice of those unable to speak out. These series of articles are well written and well researched with the writer giving us a view from every angle. A comprehensive and excellent coverage of this important social topic. The outcomes should be another feature in the making.

Highly commended: Fraud on the Menu, Alexandra Sampson, The Weekly Times

Judge's comments: The author introduces us to this serious issue with a hard news piece then provides us with a captivating insight into series fraud on restaurant and cafe menus. The headline writer and layout designer have enhanced the impact with their creativity. But it is great writing, with the author's ability to weave in different threads of information, that must be congratulated.

Winner: Murray Darling Revolution, Natalie Kotsios, The Weekly Times

Judge's comments: An extremely well written, well researched and captivating feature series. The Murray Darling Basin is the lifeblood of the nation and this excellent feature series gives us a fascinating insight into the initial formation of the plan, combined with a balanced view of responses from those who depend on the system for their livelihood. Kotsios' comprehensive research is commendable but it is her ability to transform this into a great piece of writing that makes it a standout.

Best Campaign

Sponsored by TAC

Commended: Australian Wool Industry, Annabelle Cleeland, Farmonline

Judge's comments: Annabelle Cleeland's series of hard hitting articles on Australian Wool Innovation shone a light on how the corporation spends its funds and helped drive a national campaign to ensure greater scrutiny and accountability of the group's investments and executive payouts. As a result, the AW1 is now being held to closer account to ensure it delivers genuine progress on research and development in the wool industry.

Highly commended: Pride, Tara Fry, Hamilton Spectator

Judge's comments: Through its positive and prominent stories in support of Hamilton's Pride and Inclusion Day, The Spectator sent a powerful message to the community: Being gay is okay. The paper's front page articles featuring personal stories from the local LGBTI community, demonstrating a firm commitment to promoting inclusiveness and equality. The Spectator's leading role in the campaign resulted in businesses across the town joining in to show their support by decorating shopfronts in a sea of rainbow colours.

Winner: #Homesafe, Andrew Eales, Australian Community Media

Judge's comments: Hashtag homesafe turned the traditional and somewhat tired road safety message into an engaging, innovative, multi-masthead, multi-platform campaign. It told raw stories from victims, families, emergency services and medical specialists using digital storytelling tools to combine words, images and video. Victims' stories were also detailed in an interactive online map created to put a face and a name to road fatality statistics.

Best Multi-Media

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: Not awarded

Highly commended: Mass of memory: music heals battle scars, Mark Kearney, The Bendigo Advertiser

Judge's comments: A beautiful and moving piece of work that powerfully uses audio, in the form of requiem music, and video interviews, to convey the depth of grief borne as a result of the WWII battle of Iwo Jimo. Well researched, with historical facts supported by photos and videos from that era. Excellent use of graphics to support the text and video elements. Great work.

Winner: Central Victoria floods, Bendigo Advertiser, The Bendigo Advertiser

Judge's comments: The Bendigo public should be proud to be served by this news outlet. Its outstanding coverage of the 2016 floods demonstrably impacted the community for the better. The entry demonstrated the integration of print and online coverage, using high-quality traditional news writing and photography, plus real-time blogging, video reports, Facebook and Twitter. The entry also draw on the data reporting available from social platforms to demonstrate the reach and impact of their coverage within the community. Exceptional work.

Best on Farm Story

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: A cut above, James Wagstaff, The Weekly Times

Judge's comments: The largest non-corporate Wagyu operation in Australia is a story in itself, and this article pursed many angles of the Mayura business which breeds, fattens, kills and then markets its own beef, and even has its own tasting room. The story is full of figures and information about the impressive business, and the story was so intriguing it was picked up by CNN Hong Kong, which ran a piece on Mayura the following week, as well as Forbes magazine.

Highly commended: Geddes growing gains, Annabelle Cleeland, Farm Online

Judge's comments: How farmers change their enterprises to be more profitable always provides a good read and this story is no exception. The Geddes have totally reassessed their operation and now even breed their own rams as it makes dollars - and sense. The story covered many aspects of a complex operation but offered several take home messages which could be of use.

Winner: Calf rearing choices reap rewards, Carlene Dowie, The Australian Dairyfarmer

Judge's comments: This is a fascinating story of how one dairy farming couple recognised they had a problem, sought advice and made changes. It is full of detail and costings, and presents a how to manual for other farmers to tackle the same challenges. The story was well written and followed a logical path. This is the kind of story that will evoke changes in the industry

Best Agribusiness Story

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: Share farmer, Peter Hemphill, The Weekly Times

Judge's comments: Hemphill sets out to answer the question: 'Would a farmer be better off toiling away on a farm all their life or putting their money into a share portfolio?" This piece demonstrated strong analysis - approaching the topic from a long-term angle. A lot of work went into it.

Highly commended: Dairy's big bust, Brett Worthington, ABC Rural

Judge's comments: This online feature provides in-depth analysis of the dairy industry at a time when it was sorely needed. It expands on the issue of opening milk prices, clawback mechanisms and dollar-litre milk macroeconomics, and the prospect of big business in dairy.

Winner: Fonterra's trump card, Simone Smith, The Weekly Times

Judge's comments: Smith's analysis of Fonterra's opening milk price, in an era of enormous change in the dairy industry, was timely, thorough, and captivating analysis. This strong article shows Smith's superior knowledge and understanding of the industry. A provocative piece that elicited a strong response from the audience. This article provided economic analysis and shed light on a confusing and emotional situation. It said what many where thinking, but few dared to say.

Best Sports Story

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: GVFL Hall of Fame, Andrew Mole, Riverine Herald

Judge's comments: Excellent depictions of three who received the Goulburn Valley league's highest honour. You get a real sense, especially, of John Haw's personality, and what life was like as a country footballer.

Highly commended: The club that said "I do" to marriage equality, Mark Kearney, Bendigo Advertiser

Judge's comments: The story has a superb opening, with Matt Keane's recollection about the day he quit footy. Kearney did an excellent job of prompting the reader to consider the social changes in football in recent years. And he was clearly respectful in reporting a sensitive issue.

Winner: Geelong's A-League bid, Ryan Reynolds, Geelong Advertiser

Judge's comments: Reynolds did well to break the story, given that the consortium would have gained more purchase if its plans had been reported in the metro media. It was this story that more than any other among the final entries that informed readers of something they did not know, and it would have sparked much discussion around water coolers in Geelong and beyond.

Best Sports Photography

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: Flying Reed, Jay Town, Geelong Advertiser

Judge's comments: A classic photograph, nicely achieved with all the elements in place. You don't get much time photographing cricket, especially when it's a fast bowler!

Highly commended: Slippery contest, Tammy Brown, Colac Herald

Judge's comments: What a mess! A sports photograph becomes a news picture when like this it highlights a matter warranting urgent community attention. (The need to upgrade the playing surface of the Birregurra Recreation Reserve)

Winner: All or nothing, Kate Healy, The Courier

Judge's comments: I love sports photography when it turns into ballet. This picture is that rare beast when action and symmetry combine to make a satisfying image of a decisive moment.

Best News Photography

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: Hazelwood closure 2016-17, Hayley Mills, Latrobe Valley Express

Judge's comments: A very simple but powerful photograph. Simplicity to my mind is the essence of a good, strong newspaper picture.

Highly commended: Honey, I flooded the car, Jay Town, Geelong Advertiser

Judge's comments: An extraordinary picture of a remarkable event. It has great impact because it is a dramatic, totally unexpected sight. It invites you to write your own back-story- how did the car get into the water?

Winner: Worker relief, Josh Nash, Portland Observer

Judge's comments: A stand out winner, embraces everything a good press photograph should be. It has impact and tells a story. Love the fact that it looks like a real slice of life and not a staged picture. No on is looking at the the camera and the emotion of the moment is so very obvious. It even has the Prime Minister in the photo joining in wholeheartedly. Photography is all about capturing the "decisive moment" as famously said by one of the greatest photographers Henri Cartier Bresson. And this picture achieves that.

Best General Interest Photography

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended: Casper, Jay Town, Geelong Advertiser

Judge's comments: A simple, beautiful evocative photograph. I liked this picture very much.

Highly commended: Goodbye Norma Jean, Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser

Judge's comments: A nice bit of fun. Sometimes the job of the photographer is to be patient and wait for that special moment, as Glenn has achieved here.

Winner: Boxing Day Best, Billy-jay Easson, Hamilton Spectator

Judge's comments: Billy-jay has really got that peak moment. Thankfully it's impossible to stage a photograph like this. The press photographers job is to be award and ready to capture that split second. A wonderful joyful photograph! A classic "1000" words" photograph.

Ray Frawley Young Journalist of the Year

sponsored by RPCV

Commended: Tara Fry, Hamilton Spectator

Judge's comments: Tara was skilful in seeking out local stories to illustrate two issues that are front page in the national dailies - mental illness and same sex marriage. She told the stories of people in her district compassionately but without drama, in a way that would have prompted local discussion and left a powerful impression.

Highly commended: Christopher Testa, Sunraysia Daily

Judge's comments: Chris's work is first rate, with an obvious commitment to accuracy, research and balance. He lets the facts stand for themselves but has a clear grasp of local issues and their implications on a state and national level. His work on the closure of a regional training college was well constructed, his coverage of discrimination on the basis of hair style showed a mature approach, and his coverage of a complex local planning issue simplified it for the readers. A valuable reporter for any outlet.

Winner: Bridget Judd, ABC South West Victoria

Judge's comments: Bridget delivered three very mature examples on subject matter that maintained a local flavour but had an impact far wider. Listeners were drawn in by her skill in developing the story and using radio craft to maintain interest and ensure the flow of the interviews. The subject matter of opioid addiction and suicide is very challenging and emotive. For Bridget to gain confidence of her interviewees to divulge intimate details of the effects on their lives was great work. She has the touch and the talent to go a long way in journalism.

Photographer of the Year

Sponsored by RPCV

Commended; Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser

Judge's comments: Glen is obviously very close to the local community and it shows in his 3 photographs of events and situations that are a big part of the challenge of rural life.

Highly commended: Dale Webster, The Weekly Times

Judge's comments: 3 uncomplicated photographs with no distracting elements. Showing a variety of emotions in a clear unambiguous way. Always makes for a good press photograph.

Winner: Jay Town, Geelong Advertiser

Judge's comments: A very hard decision to make. A press photographers' job is to portray the essence of a situation so that it can be grasped immediately by the reader. Jay produced a consistently good range of photographs.

Journalist of the Year

Sponsored by RACV

Commended: Adam Holmes, Bendigo Advertiser

Judge's comments: Holmes has tackled challenging stories; from access to abortion to family violence. He has earned the trust of his informers, and delicately told intimate stories. Journalists are charged with sharing experiences their audiences would otherwise struggle to comprehend. Holmes has executed this task.

Highly commended: Greg Dundas, Geelong Advertiser

Judge's comments: Dundas' 20 years of experience working in regional newspapers comes through in his writing. Articulate and concise writing, his stories hold audiences from opening par to conclusion. His writing is a guide for developing writers, and judges encourage those wanting to improve their writing, to check out his alternative approach to print.

Winner: Simone Smith, The Weekly Times

Judge's comments: Dairy has been one of the biggest talking points in the last year - so it makes sense for the top gong to go to such a respected dairy reporter. The judges value how accessible Smith's agricultural journalism is to the wider audience. Smith has worked her industry contacts for these stories and then always valued added by getting a human perspective to support the hard news. Smith's dairy reporting in an unprecedented year has been ahead of the pack, accessible and resulted in processors being held to account.

Media Outlet of the Year

Sponsored by CFA

Commended: Latrobe Valley Express

Judge's comments: Where would the Latrobe Valley community be without the Express? In the dark. The paper that always punches above its weight continues to ask the questions of a State Government that the community wants answered. It has never been afraid to ask tough questions, but it has also shown a variety in its reporting style to keep coverage fresh. This includes highlighting positive changes in a district where good news is always welcome.

Commended: ABC Gippsland

Judge's comments: All journalists working in Gippsland have had a tough year reporting on a series of economic body blows to the region. The coverage by local ABC team 'broke' many of the major news streams picked up by the state and national media, providing an excellent case-study not only of persistence, but also of the effective use of multi-media and multi-platform delivery.

Highly commended: Sunraysia Daily

Judge's comments: All regional media outlets are well embedded into their local communities, so it comes down to that 'extra mile'. The effort put into a high quality entry mirrors this team's pride in its professionalism and its news and feature capabilities. The 'extra mile' was a fantastic whole-of-staff effort to create a special Sunday edition to provide the Sunraysia district with a full and gripping coverage of a devastating storm last November.

Winner: Bendigo Advertiser

Judge's comments: The Bendigo Advertiser is a fierce advocate for its community, but that doesn't mean it won't challenge its readers, and it will always stand behind its decisions some find controversial. The depth and quality of its journalism and the creativity in design is a feature of the printed paper and online. It has clearly worked hard to create not just a presence, but a relationship, with the Bendigo community, and has been rewarded by an increase in print readership and a surge in online traffic.

 

2016 Winners

Best News Story

Sponsored by VFF
 
Commended: Australia Crew, Replaced, Tiana Richardson, Portland Observer
Judge's comments: This was the story of the carrier MV Portland and its Australian crew who refused to sail their ship to Malaysia where they would be replaced by foreign crew. And while the Portland Observer had this story in its own backyard, their reporting was quickly followed up by mainstream media.
 
Highly Commended: Sack them all, Mandy Squires, Geelong Advertiser

Judge’s comments: The Addy obviously got a leak on the findings of a Government Commission of Inquiry recommending a sacking of the Geelong City Council and its flamboyant mayor Darren Lyons. If you get a leak on a report before it is tabled in Parliament, you run with it, which is what Mandy Squires and the Addy did. One can only wonder how boring it must be now for the Addy without its council problems and its colourful mayor.

Winner: Worker Slave Shame, Alex Sampson and Emma Field, The Weekly Times
Judge’s comments: This story focussed on a group of Pacific Island workers who were sacked and sent home by an employer because of their complaints about their meagre pay and sub-standard housing. The story met all the criteria for a good news report. But more importantly it triggered action from government authorities and a Senate Committee Inquiry.
 
 
Best Feature Story - Broadcast
Sponsored by DELWP
 
Commended: High Country Women, Tim Lee, ABC Television
 
Judge's comments: A colourful take on the fabled man-from Snowy River – but this time a look at six generations of women in one family that has been continuing the business, and the traditions, of high country grazing. This report skilfully captures the colour, the history, the family ties and legacies; all woven into the political and operational challenges of today.
 
Highly Commended: Brim silo artwork: the tall tales and colourful characters behind Guido van Helten's paintings, Danielle Grandly, Victorian Country Hour
 
Judges’ comments: A beautifully told story behind the story’ of the appearance of the giant portraits on grain silos in the Mallee township of Brim. In acceding to the artist’s wishes for the identities of the locals featured on the 30-metre-high murals to remain secret, the reporter takes listeners into a tale of mystery and intrigue as colourful speculation begins weaving a whole new folklore for this small community that embodies so much of rural Victoria’s history and modern-day circumstance.
 
Winner: Abuse victims confront nuns caring for dying bishop, Charlotte King, ABC radio - PM
 
Judges’ comments: The reporter, with microphone on, joins a group of elderly women who confront, and are shunned, by nuns caring for one of the witnesses due to appear before the Royal Commission into the Institutional Response to Child Sex Abuse. The polite, almost shy, confrontation by women who were young convent girls and the effect on them 50 years later, starkly captures their lifelong distress and pain. The reporter showed initiative and cool-headedness in an emotional atmosphere and laid bare the humanity of this long-running saga.
 
 
Best Feature Story - Non-daily newspapers
Sponsored by Deakin University

Commended: Michelle looks forward after cancer journey, Tiana Richardson, Portland Observer

Judges' comments: Tiana Richardson’s story of breast cancer for local dentist Michelle Throw offers a sensitive view of the harrowing twelve months journey for this mother of three. Just as importantly it highlights the advantages where treatment was available locally and the importance of early diagnosis for women not considered in the most at-risk age groups.
 
Highly Commended: Lettuce bagged in salmonella outbreak, Jeanette Severs, Good Fruit and Vegetables
Judges’ comments: A well researched story following a salmonella poisoning cluster linked to bagged fresh lettuce. Presented as a full page feature this story gained authority by canvassing the range of different industry perspectives associated with this issue.
 
Winner: Breaking free of ice scourge, Skye Grigg, Hamilton Spectator
 
Judges’ comments: This story which led the Spectator on Saturday May 28 offered a chilling, first-hand account of a young Hamilton woman’s addiction to ‘ICE’ and subsequent recovery to provide a message of hope. This was only possible because of the trust writer Skye Grigg was able to establish with her subject, all the more difficult in a regional community where many of the audience will have known the subject and members of her family.
 
 
Best Feature Story - Daily and State-based newspapers
Sponsored by Coles
 
Commended: Miracle on dirt bike track, Nigel McNay, The Border Mail
 
Judges’ comments: This piece is a fine example of painting with words. The picture created by Nigel is vivid; we’re there, living every moment of Richard’s fight to live. A beautifully constructed and written feature, from start to finish. Well done.
 
Highly Commended:Gerard Henderson, Anthea Cannon, Geelong Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: If anyone is in doubt about the impact of domestic violence, then Anthea’s excellent piece on the terrifying story of Gerard Henderson is a must read. It leaves you shell-shocked.
 
Winner: The special envoy, Natalie Kotsios, The Weekly Times - DecisionAg
 
Judges’ comments: Politics can be a bland subject but Natalie Kotsios has produced a gem with her story on former Trade Minister Andrew Robb. She produced an intriguing and fascinating account of this very private man and what drove him, using good old fashioned legwork. A standout piece.
 
 
Best Feature Series - Non-daily newspapers
Sponsored by DEDJT
 
Commended: Brides speak out, Luke Horton, Wimmera Mail Times
 
Judges’ comments: A classic example of a newspaper standing up for their local community.The Wimmera Mail Times took on the concerns of three different brides upset about the services of a photography agency. In a small rural community, this was a good example of brave reporting to confront an issue of broad concern.
 
Highly Commended: Bay school finds a new home, Benjamin Fraser, Portland Observer
 
Judges' comments: Another prime example of a newspaper standing up for its local community.The Observer took on a campaign to seek funding for a new school for local people with disabilities. The resulting $7million allocation was welcomed by the community.
 
Winner: Yes, I have cancer, Andrew Mole, The Riverine Herald
 
Judges’ comments: This series of stories provides a detailed and compelling insight into how a woman faces life-threatening breast cancer, and how medical support services respond to her needs. Using graphic and confronting images and personal story-telling, the articles take us on a journey that highlights the benefits of early detection.The photographic image of the cancer being removed from the woman may have been distressing to some readers, but it is a valid and complementary display.
 
 
Best Feature Series - Daily and state-based newspapers
Sponsored by AFD
 
Commended: The lower Darling in crisis, Christopher Testa, Sunraysia Daily
 
Judges’ comments: Drought is a common topic but, in the lower Darling region, it has special meaning to locals who suffer because water is taken out of the river system from users thousands of kilometres upstream. Christopher worked his way up and down the river to talk to locals who spoke about the injustice, the need for a sustainable approach to water management, and the lack of action from state and federal governments. That Christopher's work shamed a NSW cabinet minister and senior water bureaucrat into separate tours of the region was proof of the power of his words
 
Highly Commended: Tough Toll, Erin Pearson, Geelong Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: As a police reporter, Erin Pearson fully understood the impact the road toll had on the Geelong community. But getting members of Geelong’s highway patrol to open up on the impact that attending fatal road accidents had on them and their personal lives meant earning their complete trust. Her aim was simple - to use their stories to encourage public discussion in the hope that it would change dangerous behaviour on the roads. So for 10 weeks she listened to stories about everything from missed dinners and cancelled appointments through to failed relationships and post- traumatic stress. And, above all, the heartbreak they see and feel when delivering tragic news to a family after a fatality. The series launched at the start of the December holiday period and Erin's stories were poignant and powerful.
 
Winner: Worried sick, Mandy Squires, The Geelong Advertiser
 
Judges' comments: Getting Year 12 students to open up publicly about the pressures they faced was a major coup for Mandy Squires. Armed with their revealing - and often confronting - honesty, Mandy delivered a thought-provoking series into the stresses, anxieties and suicidal thoughts suffered by so many teenagers undertaking Year 12. One of the great strengths of the series was publishing students' words unedited, which allowed readers into the minds of teens in distress. Importantly, it also sought out experts for advice on how teenagers could deal with exam pressures and the expectations of their families, their friends and themselves. And Mandy made sure that the key message of the series shone through - that there IS life after VCE!
 
 
Best Campaign
Sponsored by TAC
 
Commended: Foreign worker exploitation, Emma Field, The Weekly Times
 
Judges’ comments: Emma Field’s dogged pursuit of the story of farm worker exploitation and the rorting of the visa system gained momentum throughout 2015/16, earning her a Walkley along the way, and a ‘commended’ in these awards in 2015. Her strong accounts of affected workers bring a human face to an often-hidden problem. In the past year, The Weekly Times’ campaign has led to Federal Government changes to close a loophole in the visa system, plans for workplace reform, a $20m boost to the Fair Work Ombudsman, a State Government inquiry and has seen farm operators cutting ties to dodgy labour-hire firms.
 
Highly Commended: Royal Commission into church sex abuse, Melissa Cunningham, The Ballarat Courier
 
Judges’ comments: In a highly sensitive campaign, Melissa Cunningham built trust with some of the most damaged survivors of clergy sex abuse, and encouraged them to share their stories. Their poignant crowdfunded trip to Rome to witness Cardinal Pell’s testimony was partly due to the national attention Melissa secured. The paper also backed the ‘Loud Fence’ ribbon movement, which gave the community a way to express support. Melissa’s clear rapport with survivors led to her being sent to Rome to help convey their story and the resulting articles, videos and posts led the national coverage for Fairfax newspapers and online.
 
Winner: Save Our Uni, The Warrnambool Standard
Judges’ comments: ‘Save Our Uni’ is a textbook grassroots campaign, ramped up a notch for the social media age. The paper exposed the threat to Deakin Uni’s viability and mobilised the community to fight. The campaign was rarely off the front page: it sparked online petitions, hashtag selfie campaigns, a call-to-arms rally attended by 800 and live-streamed to another 6,000. It allowed the wider community to articulate how important the uni’s presence was to them. It did such a good job of highlighting the uni’s value and recruiting new students that Deakin has dropped takeover talks and committed to staying
 
 
Best Multimedia
Sponsored by Dairy News Australia
 
Commended: Warrnambool Deakin rally: Hundreds gather to save regional university campus, Bridget Judd, ABC News South West Victoria
 
Judges' comments: A good tight package covering a significant local. The package featured multiple elements and entry points for the online reader, including a tidy video which nicely complemented the written texts, as well as social media snapshots to add the element of live coverage and timely reporting.
 
Highly Commended: Chines tourists flood isolated gain town, throwing drought-stricken community an unexpected lifeline, Danielle Grandly, ABC Victorian Country Hour
 
Judges’ comments: This entry was a very strong package, well-researched and excellent choice of subject. The story successfully portrayed the challenges of a dwindling small town population struggling to cope with unexpected growth and cross-cultural interaction. Good use of photography, excellent audio package, well-written text, and whimsical use of video to break the tension.
 
Winner: Silvers Circus - the changing world of the circus, Caleb Cluff, Luka Kauzlaric, The Ballarat Courier
 
Judges’ comments: The stories of Silvers Circus stood out for the combination of engaging text, exceptional photography, creative digital display and complementary video. Importantly, the reporters did not approach the story as outsiders describing circus life – the Q&A format of the texts allowed for the revelation of personal insights from the circus staff. Combined with beautiful photography, the package pulled back the mask of the entertainer and humanised their way of life.
 
 
Best Agribusiness Story
Sponsored by Rural Finance, Rural Bank
 
Commended: Bale Boom, Nathan Dyer, RM Williams OUTBACK magazine
 
Judges’ comments: Well written and packed with facts on the expanding cotton industry in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Also a good example of modern photo-journalism, the images and narrative combined by the writer into a comprehensive insight into an industry, its people and its economic impact.
 
Highly Commended: Fishermen fear their lives are on the line, Anthea Cannon, Geelong Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: A gutsy feature that brings urgency and relevance to the closure of a local bay fishing industry that politicians and bureaucrats would rather disappear quietly for the sake of political convenience. Well researched and written it exposes the power of political populism over scientific objectivity and gives voice to a small industry not well understood and which has been easy to malign – as the journalist discovered when she found herself on the receiving end of the same dogmatic outrage.
 
Winner: A sticky business, Alex Sampson, The Weekly Times, DecisionAg
 
Judges’ comments: A skilfully written, entertaining, and informative profile of Capilano Honey’s triumph-over-adversity. A strong example of engaging business writing, taking readers into the realities of modern beekeeping and honey production in a changing rural landscape, and the harsh realities of agribusiness – in this instance the story of how a regional company hit by the Global Financial Crisis was able to rebuild. This feature is enjoyable to read, packed with facts and leaves no question unanswered.
 
 
Best On-Farm Story
Sponsored by RASV
 
Commended: Drought prompts change in farm system, Carlene Dowie, Australian Dairyfarmer
 
Judges’ comments: Carlene Dowie’s article on how the Singleton family had overhauled their dairy enterprise to deal with climate change and a lack of irrigations water - while expanding the farm operating and making a profit - was timely and contained a wealth of information.
 
Highly Commended: Bairnsdale wheat reaches 5t/ha...plus more, Jeanette Severs, Ground Cover
 
Judges’ comments: Jeanette Sever’s article on the Caithness family’s move into high rainfall cropping in East Gippsland dealt with innovation, productivity and sustainability.The article contained a wealth of information and technical detail on how the family approached their cropping enterprise in terms of varieties, inputs, soil conditions, yields, and marketing options. It also set out how Trevor and Toby Caithness had accessed information from outside the district and subsequently incorporated innovative practices in their cropping operation
 
Winner: Duxon's measured success, Fiona Myers, The Weekly Times
 
Judges’ comments: This story dealt with innovation in using sheep genomics and Australian Sheep Breeding Values as a way of making more money from Merinos.Fiona Myer’s article examined how Ben Duxson from Marnoo used a range of genetic technologies, alongside other management innovations, to not only improve the productivity and profitability of his flock, but also the flocks of his ram clients. The story ticked all the boxes. It was engaging, well written and informative
 
 
Best Sports Story
Sponsored by AWI/The Fibre of Football
 
Commended: The day India came to Portland, Samuel Ord, Portland Observer
 
Judges’ comments: A great example of the truism that the best stories often start with the simplest question. The writer asked an old hand about the best cricket ever played in the town and the story went from there. Clearly, it was a labour of love. The writer enjoyed his research. He had the skill to make the town a character as much as the players. The judge shared his sense of wonder as the story unfurled.
 
Highly Commended: The final siren, Tim Lee, Landline, ABC Television
 
Judges’ comments: Superb use of the travails of two clubs to describe the wider problem of falling population and its effect on country football. Plenty of leg work, first of all with a trip to the Mallee, but then shooting at training and on match day. Voices are all strong and genuine. Writing is crisp and clean. Vision a wonderful evocation of the Mallee’s low horizons. The judge cared about the people and the clubs, which is no small thing.
 
Winner: Sam Moorfoot, secret weapon, Greg Dundas, Geelong Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: Great idea. Slightly outside the square. Would have taken some leg work to up. Done with humour, compassion and sensitivity. Quite a coup to get the Geelong captain, Joel Selwood, to comment so effusively. And a good job to give Sam his own voice without contriving a mawkish tone. Excellent use of detail to describe Sam’s popularity, with the players wanting to be in photos. The story brought a massive smile to the judge’s face. Also a strong sense of connection. The judge liked Sam and his parents. He wanted to meet them!
 
 
Best News Photography
Sponsored by Coretext
 
Commended: Milk money evaporates, Sittixay Ditthavong, Riverine Herald
 
Judges’ comments: A dramatically-lit photograph which illustrates the story of the impact of the dairy milk price crisis.
 
Highly Commended: Grand theft auto, Nigel Hallett, Geelong Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: Action accentuates the intense drama of the situation. The photograph makes few if any words necessary for the reader to get the picture of what has happened.
 
Winner: Protest breaks the line, Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: The epitome of a good press photograph, it has the action and drama yet focusses solely on one face that tells the whole story.
 
 
Best General Interest Photography
Sponsored by V/Line
 
Commended: Best Mates, Robyn Agnew, Hamilton Spectator
 
Judges’ comments: This photograph has the “aww!” factor. Two happy friends expressed by a simple gesture, captured at the decisive moment.
 
Highly Commended: Bringer of fire, Mike Moores, Meander Valley Gazette
 
Judges’ comments: A dramatic photograph made more mysterious by the tonality, blur and colour and by not overpowering the subject with flash.
 
Winner: Queen Michelle, Kate Healy, The Ballarat Courier
 
Judges’ comments: This is a simple, joyful photograph that tells the story, which is what a good press photograph should do. Simply composed with no distracting elements, it captures the special moment which is the essence of good photography.
 
 
Best Sports Photography
Sponsored by Currie Communications
 
Commended: Brotherly Love, Tammy Brown, Colac Herald
 
Judges’ comments: An example of a simple gesture captured which presages the whole story and invites the reader to find out more
 
Highly Commended: Rodeo fun for Rattle n Hum, Mike Moores, Meander Valley Gazette
 
Judges’ comments: What needs to be said but “great action”! The photographer has taken this from the right angle to get an almost balletic shot. It’s crucial to be in the right spot at the right time.
 
Winner: Gai's eye on the prize, Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: Sometimes the best sports photograph is not on the field but in the crowd. Quite often a really good press shot doesn’t have to be dramatic but can be quite quirky or even naughty.
 
 
Ray Frawley Young Journalist of the Year
 
Commended: Bethany Tyler, Geelong Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: Bethany Tyler’s portfolio of work demonstrated a mature understanding of complex issues and showed the power of empathetic and hard reporting to achieve outcomes for battling community groups. Tyler's frontline piece on the region's domestic violence task-force went inside homes of victims and offenders to lift the lid on Geelong's crime fight. She achieved a scoop on Target’s future, which made national headlines, and exposed failings in the NDIS, which garnered continued support for clients of the 366 Pathway program. The Geelong community has been well served by Bethany’s work
 
Highly commended: Christopher Testa, Sunraysia Daily
Judges’ comments: Christopher Testa has provided exceptional coverage of local government, political and environmental issues in his first 21 months as a full-time journalist at Mildura’s Sunraysia Daily. His extensive coverage of the water crisis gripping the lower Darling River over a period of more than 12 months has provided the small but thriving community with political exposure as they lobby the NSW Government for greater water security. He has a strong news sense, and also spent six weeks as acting editor of The Guardian newspaper in Swan Hill, just eight months after becoming a graded journalist, where he organised the only federal candidates forum for the seat of Mallee. A bright future ensues.
 
Winner: Bridget Judd, ABC Warrnambool
Judges’ comments: Bridget is the only journalist in the ABC’s Warrnambool office and despite the large distance to cover, has broken several stories on major local issues, including the Alcoa aluminium smelter, threats to the future of Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus and the dairy crisis. Bridget’s work has been aired on ABC Online, ABC Radio Current Affairs, ABC TV News and on local radio. Her body of work shows her ability to analyse and explore some of the highly complex issues facing rural and regional communities and present them to a broader, national audience.
 
 
Photographer of the year
Sponsored by RACV
 
Commended: Dale Webster, The Weekly Times
 
Judges’ comments: Three authentic photographs of country Australia. Action is well represented in the rodeo shot, while the other two are fine portraits of rural people.
 
Highly Commended: Mike Moores, Meander Valley Gazette
 
Judges’ comments:This group of photographs shows quality in a range of situations. Best of the three is the rodeo shot which demonstrates the required press skill of capturing the peak moment.
 
Winner: Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: The strength of this portfolio lies in the successful capture of three completely different subjects, showing the photographer’s competence across the press spectrum. The protestor image is a proper press photograph and clinches the deal for this photographer in a close field.
 
 
Journalist of the Year
Sponsored by RACV
 
Commended: Melissa Cunningham, Ballarat Courier
 
Judges’ comments: Melissa is commended for a good mix of writing versatility, original thinking and above all, the thoughtful approach to the way she covered the story of the year for Ballarat - the Royal Commission into the Institutional Response to Child Abuse, including being assigned as a regional journalist to travel to Rome with abuse survivors.
 
Highly commended:  Simone Smith, The Weekly Times
 
Judges’ comments: The rural story of the year has been the collapse of the dairy industry, interwoven with the behaviour of milk companies and the impact on dairy farmers, their families and their communities. The coverage by Simone Smith, The Weekly Times, exemplifies the highest standards of thoroughness, investigative research, breadth of coverage and sustained effort.
 
Winner: Mandy Squires, Geelong Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: Mandy’s body of work had sheer impact resulting from doggedness, courage and her clear sense of purpose as a journalist. Mandy’s coverage of the conflict and culture leading to the implosion and sacking of the Geelong Council is casebook journalism, and as her spread of entries shows, is a reflection of her approach generally to her role as a conduit for information that protects a community from abuses of power and breakdowns in social decency.
 
 
Media Outlet of the Year
Sponsored by the CFA
 
Winner: The Weekly Times
 
Judges’ comments: In the past 12 months The Weekly Times launched its website nationally with a print, TV and online campaign. It launched Crop Gear, a 40-page quarterly magazine, produced a special 20-page feature to help farmers at the height of the dairy price crisis and continued its strong tradition of breaking news, with Emma Field’s coverage of the mistreatment of illegal workers awarded a Walkley Award. This was the acknowledged catalyst for the investigation into the 7-11 convenience store workers. Five years after it was the first media outlet to highlight the dangers of quad bikes, the Victorian Government imposed safety rules on their use on farms and introduced rebates on rollover protection. Its work has seen online audience rise more than 100%, significant increases in its social media following and rises in print circulation.
 
Finalist: Geelong Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: FEARLESS reporting that exposed corruption, brought about change, engaged print readers and grew an online audience has been the cornerstone of the Geelong Advertiser’s excellence this year. The Victorian Government’s sacking of the Geelong council came as a result of a 15-month Addy investigation exposing a culture of bullying, corruption and financial mismanagement. The “exclusive” tag became a familiar sight for Addy readers, with the paper first to report on vital regional issues including Target’s decision to close its Geelong headquarters. The paper celebrated the Addy’s 175th birthday in November with the publication of Our Geelong, a 12‐magazine collection mining the paper’s rich archives. This coverage has seen rises in print and online circulation.
 
Finalist: Bendigo Advertiser
 
Judges’ comments: The past year has seen a division in the Bendigo community over a proposal to build a mosque. The Bendigo Advertiser chose to tell story differently. Instead of reporting on the ugliness and giving a voice to the hatred, it came out in support of the Muslim community. As anti-mosque protesters planned their first rally in Bendigo, the Addy came out in support of its Muslim community. It made the decision that unless a newsworthy event happened during the protest, and subsequent demonstrations, it would largely ignore them. The paper was threatened, targeted on social media and became the subject of the hate speech it took a stand against. The Addy challenges it community through delicate reporting of issues such as euthanasia and gender rights, but also gives it a powerful voice.
 
Finalist: La Trobe Valley Express
 
Judges’ comments: The La Trobe Valley Express continues to champion its community by asking the questions specific to its readership. It explores these issues in great detail, leaving no stone unturned and demanding answers from Government. Its coverage of the second Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry was first class, exploring health, mine rehabilitation and health improvement in great detail. It also acted on behalf of the community with a series on the high price of fuel in the Valley, an ongoing sore point for locals. Following this coverage, fuel prices in the Valley began to decrease, and the Express has monitored them since. When the Government talked up a decline in unemployment rates, the Express took them to task, asking why unemployment continues to soar in the Latrobe Valley. The newspaper continues to ask questions in its bid to represent its community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Winners

Best Regional News Story

Sponsored by Coles

Commended: Sleep Tight,Emma Field, The Weekly Times

Judge’s comments: An expose of a network of 10 alleged illegal rooming houses in East Gippsland that are providing temporary accommodation for overseas horticultural and farm workers. Emma has been doggedly pursuing the issue of overseas workers’ employment conditions for two years.

Highly Commended: $50 milion vanishing act, Louis Nelson, Latrobe Valley Express

Judge’s comments: Louis was the first to disclose how the Latrobe Valley electricity generator HRL was able to receive nearly $50 million from the former Labor Government's Carbon Tax program as compensation for reducing its carbon admissions. Subsequent investigation disclosed that HRL was entitled to only fraction of this compensation. The inability of the current government to retrieve the over compensation was policy failure of extreme public interest.

Winner: Gun sale test, Chris McLennan, The Weekly Times

Judge’s comments: Chris was first with a story that literally had people up in arms. The story exposing a loophole in the government's gun laws was well written, succinct, and with plenty of attribution. It had the government scrambling to close the loophole.

Best Rural News Story

Sponsored by the Victoria Farmers Federation

Commended: Dairy Battle, Laura Griffin, Stock and Land

Judges’ comments: This article showcases the clash between ‘industrial’ agricultural development and traditional grass-based production.

Highly commended: Over cooked, Alex Sampson, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: A decision by an inner-urban council to ban caged eggs from all products sold in the South Melbourne market – including cakes and pies – had an immediate impact on the stallholders and their suppliers. Alex canvassed opinions from a wide range of stakeholders.

Winner: Foot on the gas, Jeanette Severs, Stock and Land

Judges’ comments: The winning article captures the Lock the Gate movement’s determination to fight to keep gas miners off agricultural land in East Gippsland. Its energy and information are well supported by a great photograph, organised by the reporter.

Best FeatureSeries - Broadcast

Sponsored by Telstra

Highly Commended: Food Labels - What's in a name?, Catherine McAloon, Sarina Locke, Lucy Barbour, Babs McHugh, Edwina Farley, ABC Rural

Judges’ comments: With food labelling such a hot topic, the ABC rural team took a look at what it actually means at the production level. The four-week feature series effectively used natural sound and on-the-ground interviews to take the listener through the farm gate.

Winner: Drought policy apartheid, Danielle Grindlay, The Country Hour

Judges’ comments: This rolling coverage of the drought affecting Victoria and south-east South Australia gave new voice to farmers experiencing hardship in the region. It also shed light on contentious loan assistance policies and forced a government re-think.

Best Feature Series - Non-daily newspapers

Sponsored by Telstra

Highly Commended: Time to take a stand, Lauren Henry, Weekly Advertiser

Judges’ comments: The entry highlighted one of the region’s most important but often ignored social problems; domestic violence. The front cover included an eye-catching graphic and a well-selected quote. The articles covered a variety of events and perspectives while presenting a topic deserving of community recognition. The series would have benefitted from a personal perspective, even if presented anonymously.

Winner: On the land, The Local, Donna Kelly

Judges’ comments: The importance of farmers and people who live off the land or continue long-held rural traditions is well captured in this series of five articles, each showcasing a different occupation in the rural area. The articles nicely capture the colour and character of the subjects and are accompanied by suitable photos. This style of writing - highlighting local characters - will be appreciated by The Local’s audience and is what such publications should be about.

Best Feature Series - Daily/state-based newspapers

Sponsored by Telstra

Commended: Fighting Spirit: Women's health in focus, Meagan Rooth, Geelong today - Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: A maturely written exploration of people in a local community who are confronted suddenly with terminal illness. It’s hard reading because of the inherent emotion, but these stories are written as an engaging and informative celebration of the lives of ordinary people made extra-ordinary when put on the receiving end of life’s roll of the dice.

Highly Commended:Interfert-Megafert, Peter Hemphill, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: This series begins as a strong news report and through the journalist’s persistence and experience unfolds into an expose of significant relevance to the paper’s rural and agribusiness readership. The series investigating the failure of two related fertiliser companies, allegedly aided and abetted by questionable bank practices, is an exhaustive inquiry into tangled company structures and financial arrangements, subsequent court proceedings and the impacts on the lives and businesses of innocent people affected.

Winner: Breaking Ice,Mandy Squires, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: A powerful series of skilfully written and edited features that takes readers into the horror and impacts of ice addiction, from a range of perspectives. Backed up by useable information and fact boxes, this is an excellent piece of high quality community journalism. It doesn’t succumb to sensationalism but relies on the frank honesty of the people who are telling their stories – families, police, healthcare workers, addicts – for its impact and compelling reader engagement, and the newspaper’s push for a properly resourced rehabilitation program for the community.

Best Feature Story - Broadcast

Sponsored by DEDJTR

Highly Commended: Shattering the Bulletproof Myth, Danielle Grandly, The Country Hour

Judges’ comments: This feature provided important, compelling and powerful listening. It explored suicide amongst rural men in a sensitive and responsible manner. The introduction to the interviews highlighted the journalist’s understanding of the issue but the judge was especially impressed that the journalist then made the interviews all about her subjects not herself, she sat back and let her subjects tell their stories and share their experiences, gently guiding the story with questions where appropriate. This was responsible and informed reporting on a topic that has too often been considered a no go area.

Winner: Why won't Australian consumers buy more Australian grown food?, Nikolai Beilharz, The Country Hour

Judges’ comments:Nikolai Beilharz skilfully used the feature format to explore the impacts of not buying Australian grown food on local growers and rural communities. The program was broadcast nationally from a packing shed in Kialla, near Shepparton, and the judge’s decision took into account the challenges of mounting a complex one-hour program outside of a studio and doing this with seamless coverage. This balanced and informative program introduced a diversity of views from consumers motivated by price to the heartbreak of a farmer bulldozing the fruit trees that he had nurtured over many years.

Best Feature Story - Non daily newspapers

Sponsored by DEDJTR

Highly Commended: Harely turns his life around, Phil Holmes, Hamilton Spectator

Judges’ comments: A harrowing tale of a local man’s 10-year journey as a user and dealer of drugs, including ICE, which has quickly risen to be of major concern in both city and rural communities. The writer clearly gained the trust of the subject who spoke candidly and at length about a life that few could comprehend. This story provides the strongest possible message about the depravity that awaits those who flirt with drugs.

Winner: Rachel - A name to be proud of, Tessa Hayward, Hamilton Spectator

Judges’ comments: A well-constructed story to mark the Anzac centenary, profiling the service record of Sister Rachel Pratt, a nurse from the region who served in both the Gallipoli and European theatres of World War 1. The writer drew on details provided by a local resident, Sr Pratt’s niece, but more importantly included extensive quotes from Sr Pratt’s correspondence to family members, giving readers a rare, first-hand account of life for those in active service at that time.

Best Feature Story - Daily/state-based newspapers

Sponsored by DEDJTR

Commended: He had control all over again, Natalie Kotsios, Border Morning Mail

Judges’ comments: This feature highlights a terrible anomaly with the domestic violence laws. Eleanor’s story paints an insightful and graphic picture of her frustration and desperation. The use of two separate stories, the second giving readers the “background” to these laws, works well with this topic.

Highly Commended: Our giant's thumping heart is slowly dying, Danny Lannen, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: A great example of a “dry” subject brought to life through people and, in particular, words. The writer takes us inside the harsh environment of the Alcoa plant and cleverly brings the human face to the surface. A wonderful example of long-form journalism.

Winner: Finding a way to still waters, Nigel McNay, Border Morning Mail

Judges’ comments: A standout. I was captivated, living Nigel’s journey with him. Mental health is a difficult subject about which the writer has produced a hauntingly beautiful piece, drawing on every emotion. Writer cleverly weaves his own story through various stages of his life with thoughtful story construction, language and style.

Best Campaign (including social media)

Sponsored by TAC

Commended: Foreign worker exploitation, Emma Field, Alex Sampson, Rob Harris, Kath Sullivan, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: Over the year, the Weekly Times team has published an investigative campaign on the hidden issue of exploitation of foreign farm workers. Many are hired through contract labour hire firms, some of which underpay workers and charge for sub-standard housing, transport and training. In some cases, the workers may not hold valid visas. The journalists’ efforts are remarkable in an environment where it is difficult to gain information, given language barriers and a strong fear of reprisals. Their campaign has already led to significant changes including a Senate inquiry, raids, unregistered rooming house closures and changes to working holiday visas. The paper uses its digital platforms well and has vowed to continue the fight to expose unfair treatment of workers.

Highly Commended: Toxic Legacy, Jordan Oliver and David Jeans, Ballarat Courier

Judges’ comments: Well-written exposé about the health fears of former Lands Department (later DEPI) workers who were responsible for using chemicals for pest and weed control over several decades. Some have died, and others have illnesses doctors attribute to exposure to toxic chemicals. The young journalists worked on this project for several months, often after rostered hours, gathering interviews and facts from a pre-digital age. The campaign has resulted in an independent statewide inquiry, the first in Victoria under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, which publishes its findings later this year.

Winner: Bully City, Mandy Squires, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: In exposing an alleged bullying workplace culture at Geelong Council, Mandy Squires balanced careful handling of interview subjects, with the pursuit of calling the council to account. This was a sensitive issue, both from a legal and psychological perspective, and was handled in a meticulous and balanced way. Her investigations revealed compelling stories of harassment over a long period. Squires was careful not to stigmatise mental health issues and always promoted helplines. The campaign’s use of digital media extended beyond simply linking to the published series. Geelong Advertiser created an online Bully Wall to engage the community, provide visibility and encourage others to speak out. The outcome was a warning to council from the Local Government Minister, a $200,000 independent investigation into workplace culture, and an inquiry into councillor conduct. Squires and the Advertiser show a well-honed grasp of how to gather and represent the voice of the community, especially those who are at their most vulnerable.

Best Multimedia

Sponsored by Devondale Murray Goulburn

Highly Commended: Dry Argument - Australia's Drought Policy, Anna Vidot, Lucy Barbour, Edwina Farley, Renee du Preez, ABC Rural

Judges’ comments: A comprehensive history of drought policy in Australia at a time when the issue is again of high importance to primary producers. The online package combined an extensive and thoroughly researched written history, with photos and audio interviews. This was value-added by an excellent interactive timeline that succinctly highlighted the changes of significance to drought policy over the past century. It would have been good to see a link from the interactive timeline back to the main story to assist reader engagement. The strengths of the package were also its weaknesses – reading extensive texts online is often not a comfortable experience and the package required readers to break their entrenched online behaviours – that of digesting short and snappy morsels.

Winner: Peter Bakker: Remembering Forgotten Aboriginal Soldiers, Emily Bissland, ABC Open South West Victoria

Judges’ comments: An excellent combination of text, photos and video to tell a newsworthy story of both historical and cultural significance. The multimedia piece celebrates the years of unpaid research that Peter Bakker has devoted to uncovering the names and service stories of Aboriginal soldiers in the Boer, First and Second World Wars. The well-written text story could stand in its own right as a good read. But when published as part of a broader package it complemented and expanded on the content of Bissland’s video. The video was beautifully shot and skilfully edited. Both elements were just the right length for online consumption.

Best Agriculture Story

 

Sponsored by Legendairy

Commended:As Australia's apple orchards drop away, two farms transforms to survive, Danielle Grandly, ABC Country Hour

Judges’ comments: Danielle Grindlay explores the challenges facing the apple industry with rising labour costs an competition from imported products by interviewing two neighbouring producers who have taken different approaches to increase their profitability and stay in the industry.

Highly Commended: The White Way, James Wagstaff, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: James Wagstaff’s article covers the dramatic changes taking place in the Riverinia as cotton production moves into an area more traditionally known for its role in the Australian wool industry. The article clearly sets out the economics and agronomics behind the move to cotton, a crop which has traditionally been grown in the north. The facts are well presented by including interviews with a number of key players who outline why cotton is staking up as a viable alternative enterprise in southern NSW.

Winner: Faulty Meat Probe, Shannon Twomey, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: Shannon Towmey’s article highlighted the vulnerability of meat producers who sell cattle over the hooks and the lack of redress when mistakes in carcass assessment cost farmers significant price penalties. The article highlighted how a faulty meat probe had been incorrectly measuring fat depths for more than a month at a Murray Bridge abattoir that kills 6000 cattle a week. Hundreds of producers had potentially incurred price penalties for having cattle assessed incorrectly as being too fat. The story included interviews from a range of industry sources and demonstrated that farmers who have disputes have nowhere to take their complaints.

Best Business Story

Sponsored by Rural Finance, Rural Bank

Commended: Our Dead Heart, Courtney Crane, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: The basis of Courtney Crane’s story was derived from good old-fashioned leg work – literally. She mapped every vacant store in Geelong’s CBD to show a business district rapidly deteriorating. Having detailed the problem, Courtney then tracked down those involved to find out the cause of the problem. Her coverage saw the local council and the State Government, then in opposition, take action. Good old-fashioned journalism with flair and purpose.

Highly Commended: A high country hiccup, Jenny Kelly, The Weekly times

Judges’ comments: The 2015 High Country calf sales were widely reported as the “best ever”. However, Jenny analysed historical price results and comparisons to financial returns to give producers a better insight into the market. At a time when most media was focused on the hype and headlines of rapid price increases, Jenny’s analysis painted a more complete picture.

Winner: Not so Super, Peter Hemphill, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: Picking up on frustration in the agribusiness sector about Australian superannuation funds’ reluctance to invest in Australian agriculture, Peter Hemphill followed the trail. He found that Australian super funds hold $1.9 trillion in capital and were prepared to invest in overseas agriculture, but not in Australia. The story highlights a trend in how the "farm" is often sold off to foreign investors when big financial institutions could invest but won't. Peter provides a complete and balanced picture of a scenario detrimental to Australia’s future.

Best Sports Story

Sponsored by Currie Communications

Commended: Gentleman Jim, Brendan Bunworth, Hamilton Spectator

Judges’ comments: Brendan has captured the longevity — and spirit of irreverence — of harness racing identity Jim Barker to a tee. And not just the highs of winning Cup races, but also the lows where Gentleman Jim suffered two broken shoulder bones over his long career.

Highly Commended: From a magpie to a crow, and much in between, Natalie McGregor, Hamilton Spectator

Judges’ comments: Natalie’s story was published in October well before Phil Walsh’s much-publicised death in Adelaide this year. It’s a well-researched backgrounder on Walsh’s local footy career in Hamilton and her story continues with his VFL progress at Collingwood, Richmond and the (then) Brisbane Bears. Natalie’s interview with Phil was not long after his senior appointment by the AFL Crows.

Winner: Kicking on in Memory of Aaron, Alex Oates, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: A heart-wrenching story of the days following the death of a much-loved Otway Districts footballer. He’d passed away out on the football oval after the application of what seemed to be an everyday, run-of-the-mill tackle. Reporter Alex Oates has captured the feelings of Aaron Mahoney’s family very sensitively and clearly enjoys the confidence and respect of the entire, grieving family. It’s no easy thing for a reporter to capture a family’s feelings — particularly their grief — at such raw moments in their lives.

Best News Photography

Sponsored by Coretext

Commended: Fire Rages, Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser

Judges’ comments: A classic of the Australian bushfire season, this image captures the drama, the intensity and the sheer size of the task ahead for the fire brigade illustrated by the tiny truck dominated by the huge wall of fire as a fireman directs a tiny stream of water onto the flames.

Highly Commended: Fatal Fog Crash, Robert Gunstone, Warrnambool Standard

 

Judges’ comments:The peace and tranquil atmosphere of the fog shrouded scene is shattered by the overturned semi-trailer leaving a trail of debris from what was a fatal crash. Rather than a tight shot of an overturned truck this image tells the story well.

 

Winner: Shooting Tragedy, Michael Dugdale, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments:A solid news picture clearly showing the distress of the situation and the importance for a newspaper photographer of being prepared. Well caught.

Best General Interest Photography

 

Sponsored by Dairy News Australia

Commended: Carer's Love, Brendan McCarthy, Bendigo Advertiser

Judges’ comments: A fleeting, tender moment between Mother and Child beautifully captured.

Highly Commended: Harry Hay Season, Greg Scullin, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: The man on the land with wide-brimmed hat, mud stained jeans, soft focus bales of hay and stormy skies in the background all make for a classic portrait of a farmer.

Winner: Recovery, Brendan McCarthy, Bendigo Advertiser

Judges’ comments: A simple image that beautifully captures what looks to be a period of reflection on the subject's good fortune to have overcome the illness of drug addiction.

Best Sports Photography

Commended: Cold Splash, Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser

Judges’ comments: An unexpected reaction to landing in cold water gives a great edge to what would otherwise have been a standard athletics pic.

Highly Commended: Washed Out, Adam Trafford, Ballarat Courier

Judges’ comments: An eye-catching image of a cricketer in front of a what could have been a huge snow bank – but is in reality the covers caught by the wind - turns out to be a cricketer watching hail pound down on the covers protecting the wicket from damage during a storm. Just because there is no play doesn't mean there are no pictures for the newspaper photographer to find.

Winner: Challenge, Julie Mercer, Shepparton News

Judges’ comments: Newspaper photographers are always on the lookout for an unusual image at a sporting event and this shot of an athlete having an impromptu shower with what appears to be beer certainly fits the bill.

Ray Frawley Young Journalist of the Year

Commended: Richard Koenig, Hamilton Spectator

Judges’ comments: Richard has been at the Spectator for 18 months and has shown exceptional growth in his first role in journalism. His page one stories have created a difference in the community. His story on fuel pricing rallied the community, who took their concerns to Parliament, while his work with police on the Dob in a Dealer campaign saw a large increase in drug crime reported to police. Richard’s stories have also drawn national attention, with one of his first court stories causing outrage for the perceived lenience of the sentence.

Highly commended: Bethany Tyler, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: Bethany has demonstrated impressive versatility in her two years at the Advertiser – breaking big stories, reporting with sensitivity when needed, and generating impressive news content. Her work covering the scourge of the ice epidemic in Geelong was highlighted by the moving stories shared by victims of the drug. She gained their trust and the emotive yet hard-hitting stories showed the community the human side of this epidemic. A bright future ensues.

Winner: Kara Irving, The Ballarat Courier

Judges’ comments: Kara has shown great initative, dedication to the task and fine writing to compile an impressive portfolio of work over the past 12 months. Kara used a Freedom of Information request to force the council’s hand into revealing why they closed the Black Hill Pool, pressure which ultimately led to it reopening. She turned a routine call to a house fire into an impressive multimedia report, using an iPhone, while keeping the community informed through twitter, and filing copy. She displayed great sensitivity with her interview with a mother who had lost her daughter in a car crash, days after her 15th birthday. A very worthy winner.

Photographer of the year

Sponsored by RACV

Commended: Josh Nash, Portland Observer

Judges’ comments: Versatility is the name of the game in newspaper photography and this portfolio shows that versatility by making good images from subjects that lack drama.

Highly Commended: Brendan McCarthy, Bendigo Advertiser

Judges’ comments: Three interesting images from jobs that had no inherent drama points to the skills necessary to be a good newspaper photographer.

Winner: Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser

Judges’ comments: Summing up a year’s work in three images is an almost impossible task but Glen Daniels has shown his versatility and skill in his portfolio.

Journalist of the Year

Sponsored by RACV

Commended: Peter Hemphill, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: As the Weekly Times agribusiness reporter, Peter has broken some of the biggest and more important rural stories of the past 12 months. A hallmark is his forensic investigation of issues and painstaking research that enables him to present watertight reporting of some of the most complex and legally challenging stories imaginable. Peter’s skill is to then make each story completely engaging through simple yet effective writing. Peter’s work has given a voice to hundreds of people that have lost money and suffered through the shoddy business decisions of others. Each of Peter’s stories required a great deal of legal risk in publishing and place him in a hostile environment.

Highly commended: Danny Lannen, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: Danny Lannen has again shown his versatility and professionalism over the past 12 months. Danny’s reporting of the closure of the Alcoa plant not only showed the human impact, but led to several other front page features. His work on the human condition was again exemplary, taking his readers on an emotional journey through sensitive reporting of a local resident who survived a 12,700-volt powerline shock. His stories of Geelong’s involvement in war was a welcome break from the jingo-ism of the national coverage – providing a solemn counterpoint.

Winner: Mandy Squires, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: Investigative reporter Mandy Squires has delivered compelling content across subjects as diverse as uncovering the ice epidemic in Geelong and exposing bullying within the council. She has also led successful campaigns that have benefited the community. All stories required an unflinching search for the truth, compassion and fearlessness, and an ability to do it all in a regional city. Mandy’s reporting on the impact of ice in Geelong unveiled a lack of treatment and led to a campaign for rehabilitation beds, while her expose on the widespread culture of bullying inside City Hill resulted in a high level inquiry. She has shown how journalism has the power to change the course of a city.

Media Outlet of the Year

Sponsored by the CFA

Commended: The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: Like any great paper, The Weekly Times continues to invest in journalism, opening a new office in Bendigo, launched a new agribusiness magazine, and held a reader forum. This helped it engage with its readership, which in turn helped it hold print circulation and readership. It maintained its exclusive foreign worker coverage, leading all other media including the ABC’s Four Corners, and its exposes have now changed a raft of federal and state laws. It shows its importance on a national level, with revelations a seven-shot shotgun was on its way to Australia, and at a local level, with stories on closing one-man police shops, home-schooled kids and coal seam gas.

Highly Commended: The Latrobe Valley Express

Judges’ comments: The Latrobe Valley Express had a wealth of issues within its community to cover but it did so with great impact and, when needed, great sensitivity. When the national media moved on from the Hazelwood mine fire, the Express continued to monitor and contribute to the community’s recovery. It provided context to the controversial sacking of a Latrobe City Council whistle-blower and the subsequent implosion of the council’s administration. Barred from fully reporting the departures for legal reasons, it gave personal accounts of harassment to paint a picture for its readers. Its reporting on dumped asbestos saw council overhaul its internal health service procedures – a significant win for community safety. The Express is an integral part of its community.

Winner: Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: In its 175th year, the Geelong Advertiser fought for its readers and its community – and provided compelling reading throughout. It exposed a culture of bullying in the Geelong council, leading to State Government intervention and an ongoing investigation. It led an online petition and successfully fought for more police numbers in Geelong’s CBD. It revealed the depth of Geelong’s ice problem in a ground-breaking Breaking Ice series. It successfully campaigned for State Government backing to keep Jetstar at Avalon Airport. And it said goodbye to Alcoa, a major contributor to jobs and the economy. It was a big year – and the paper never stopped for breath.

 

 

Thank you to our sponsors:

  • RACV
  • Victorian Farmers Federation
  • Transport Accident Commission
  • Telstra
  • Legendairy
  • CFA
  • Currie Communications
  • Devondale (Murray Goulburn)
  • Coretext
  • Rural Finance/Rural Bank
  • Dairy News Australia
  • Coles
  • DEDJTR

2014 Winners

Best Feature

Sponsored by Telstra

Commended: End of the line, Danny Lannen, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: Judges’ comments: Judges were looking for evidence of reporters who provided the background to their stories and then allowed their sources to help tell the story. Danny Lannen’s story - The end of the line - about the closure of the Geelong Alcoa refinery – was a perfect example of this.

Highly Commended: A tree falls, Fiona Breen, ABC Landline

Judges’ comments: Fiona Breen’s 7-minute story – A Tree falls – investigated the impact of Tasmania’s timber industry. This story contained great vision and some excellent interviews with industry participants.

Winner: Tragic descent into a deadly darkness, Mary Alexander, Warrnambool Standard

Judges’ comments: Mary Alexander’s story focussed on Derrinallum resident Glenn Sanders, who took his own life in a series of explosions after a stand-off with police on his property in April this year. This story produced a timely and clever background to Glenn Sanders, whereby Mary included many quotes from local residents. What topped the story for Mary was her journalese with a clever use of the tight sentence

 


Best Feature Series or Campaign

Sponsored by Currie Communications

Commended: It's up to us, Kim Quinlan, Ballarat Courier

Judges’ comments: A strong entry focussing on domestic violence deserving of recognition. Kim’s excellent feature was well-presented by the paper.

Highly Commended: The Northern hospital campaign, Mandy Squires, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: This concerted campaign highlighted the need for better health services in Geelong’s disadvantaged northern suburbs. The Advertiser’s coverage highlighted the extraordinary health challenges and the huge discrepancies in government funding between the marginal seat of Corangamite, which takes in the city’s south and the safe Labor electorate of Corio in the north. The campaign culminated in the Napthine Government announcing $28 million for a health centre in an area which has one of the highest chronic disease rates in Australia.

Winner: Annie North, Nicole Ferrie, Bendigo Advertiser

Judges’ comments:“The Annie North campaign” In a remarkably effective campaign, the Advertiser managed to force a government turnaround on funding for the much-needed Annie North women’s refuge within the space of eighteen days. The money was conspicuously absent in the May Budget but the paper’s dogged pursuit of the issue, with news and feature articles highlighting the domestic violence problem, forced a back-flip by Premier Denis Napthine.

Best Regional News Story

Sponsored by TAC

Commended: Record readings, Louis Nelson, Latrobe Valley Express

Judge’s comments: A strong local report, capturing the real-time realisation of the enormity of the health implications facing the Latrobe community during the Hazelwood coal mine fire. The to-the-point report captured the seriousness of the situation without over-dramatization, providing readers with important information which up to that point had been missing from all official communications.

Highly Commended: Police alarm at NLIS breakdown, Emma field, The Weekly Times

Judge’s comments: Some lateral thinking, sleuthing and police contacts gave the National Livestock Identification System issue a new dimension by looking at the ramifications for policing stock theft. The strong news report was complemented by support stories explaining both technological and institutional failures, plus the impact on theft victims.

Winner: Stop this deadly cycle, Anthea Cannon, Geelong Advertiser

Judge’s comments: A succinct data-backed news report on the highly emotional subject of road cycle accidents. The judges described this as a good example of how to extend the treatment of an issue of considerable community interest by backing up the news report with a supporting news feature. The news report keeps a tight focus on the local context, amplifying the gravity of the issues that lie behind the statistics and making the story an inescapable challenge for the newspaper’s readership.

Best Rural News Story

Sponsored by the Victoria Farmers Federation

Commended:Simple commodity with complex trail, Rex Martinich, Hamilton spectator

Judges’ comments: It was a simple question that led reporter Rex Martinich on a long and winding corporate road ... if local readers wanted to support local dairy farmers, what brand of milk should the buy? Unravelling the web of ownership with clear, concise writing and the use of strong graphics, Rex was able to give his readers a better understanding of who owned what, and the pros and cons of buying $1 a litre milk. Educational and informative while showing a strong grasp of the intricacies of the business world.

Highly commended:Basketcase, James Wagstaff, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: Just how much do farmers receive for the produce sold in supermarkets? The answer is – very, very little. James Wagstaff’s exhaustive investigation involved working back from the cash register price of a range of products all the way to the farmgate. His report was disturbing, revealing the dismal news that farmers received as little as 27c/kg for product that commanded $14 a kilogram on supermarket shelves. It was a clever, innovative way to highlight a major community concern.

Winner: Bushfire bureaucracy, Sue Neales, Rachel Blaxendale, Aaron Francis, The Australian

Judges’ comments: At no small personal risk to themselves, Sue Neales, Rachel Blaxendale and Aaron Francis travelled behind police lines to reveal that the police decision to place strict road blocks around a bushfire zone on Melbourne’s northern fringes during February’s fires had inadvertently created a second horror – starving livestock and a potential public health risk because dead animals could not be buried. Their interview with a desperate farmer in a yard full of dead livestock was gripping reading. After their story appeared, Premier Denis Napthine personally intervened and hay and water trucks and excavators were allowed through police lines to begin the recovery.

Best Agriculture Story

Sponsored by Dairy Australia

Commended: Where the genes wear the pants, Fiona Myers, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: This article featured Andrew Bouffler's unconventional wool enterprise where sheep are shorn twice a year and greater emphasis is put on genetic selection for muscle and fat cover to lift ewe fertility without sacrificing wool cut.

Highly Commended: Poppy monopoly, Fiona Breen, ABC Landline

Judges’ comments: This entry on the potential loss of Tasmania's monopoly on the production of opium poppies covered issues such as managing climate risk, security, the ban on genetically modified crops in Tasmania and import replacement. It involved interviews with a range of people, including farmers on both sides of Bass Strait, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and the Premier of Victoria.

Winner: Beef you can truly bank on, James Wagstaff, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments:This article featured former National Australia Bank agribusiness manager Mike Carroll and his beef property in Western Victoria. It covered the reasoning behind the farm purchase and development, the business goals and details of the farm management program. The article was not only highly informative but also showed someone who was a leader in agribusiness and is now also striving to be a top performer in beef production.

Best Business Story

Sponsored by Coretext

Commended: Taking control of grain price risk, Carlene Dowie, The Australian Dairyfarmer

Judges’ comments: This is an ideal example of what farmers want to read. The writer uses an on-farm story, and combines that with technical information drawn from the opinions of experts, to clarify the risks involved for dairy farmers in the fluctuations of feed grain prices, and how best to cope with those risks.

Highly Commended: Gem of a network, Peter Hemphill, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: The main article details the complicated network of companies controlled by failed Murray Bridge grain business Sapphire (SA) Pty Ltd, Brenton Strauss. In a background comment piece, Peter Hemphill argues there have been too many failed grain traders in recent years. The story is supported with great graphics.

Winner: The extraordinary battle for Warrnambool cheese and butter, Sue Neales, The Australian

Judges’ comments: Sue Neales provided on-the-spot coverage as the three-way takeover battle for ownership of the small western Victorian milk and cheese processor, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, raged last year. The stories sparkle, bringing to life the people involved. The stories also clearly define the key issues, and explain lucidly why WCB proved to be such an extraordinary prize.

Best Sports Story

Sponsored by Rural Finance

Commended: Ballarat project, Melanie Whelan, Ballarat Courier

Judges’ comments: Excellent explanatory piece about a group of middle distance and distance athletes using Ballarat's extensive bush tracks for training over the summer months. They are international competitors yet cherish the Ballarat bush tracks experience.

Highly Commended: Swans do it for Casey, Danny Lannen, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: Lannen’s article reveals how South Barwon Football Club successfully rode a tide of emotions to claim the 2013 Geelong Football League flag, inspired by quadriplegic co-coach Casey Tutungi. Not overly mawkish or emotional, but an exceptionally moving story about how the Swans -- South Barwon Footy Club -- responded to Casey's presence at the ground and what winning meant, not just to them, but more particularly winning it for him.

Winner: Dead-eye Doran knocks on 3000 door,Roslyn Lanigan, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: A terrific story on 49-year-old Tony Doran, a veteran of more than 570 games of senior football, preparing for the game where he could have nailed his 3000th career goal. He eventually got to the 3000 milestone later in June. Roslyn's research into Tony's playing record stretching right back to the 1980 season is impeccable, including games played and goals kicked throughout that period. The accompanying statistics tables on Doran's career were beautifully laid out.

Best Production

Sponsored by Devondale Murray Goulburn

Winner: Weekly Times' Farm magazine, special project, Natalee Ward, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments:   “Images of Rural Australia” was produced in-house. Many of photographer Zoe Phillips’ pictures were unpublished gems found hiding among Zoe’s files of more than 2000 jobs over the past decade. Each job had to be looked at, with every photo from the hundreds available scrutinised. Thousands of images were cut down until Natalee selected about 250 pictures that depicted rural Australia at its best.

Best News Photography

Sponsored by Dairy News Australia

Commended: Fire aftermath, Jeanette Severs, Stock and Land

Highly Commended: Dust to mud, Rosemary Harris, Buloke Times

 

Judges’ comments:The lack of black and detail in this image simply enhance the drama of the moment as the storm vents its fury on those vainly seeking shelter under the umbrellas.

Winner: Maiden Gully in close fire call, Brendan McCarthy, Bendigo Advertiser

Judges’ comments:‘Maiden Gully in close fire call’

Even though taken after the initial drama of the bushfire, this image is an excellent example of the press photographer's skill illustrating a story. Almost perfectly framed this image would have been a much lesser image had the photographer zoomed in on the firefighters alone.

Best General Interest Photography

Sponsored by V/Line

Commended: Bendigo Cakes rise to the top, Brendan McCarthy, Bendigo Advertiser

Highly Commended: Club honours stalwart, Brendan McCarthy, Bendigo Advertiser

Judges’ comments: A lovely image of a tender moment beautifully lit with that wonderful soft light emanating from the window.

Winner: I can jump puddles, Josh Nash, Portland Observer

Judges’ comments: A timeless, perfectly executed image that beautifully shows the simple joys of childhood. The timing of the exposure, with the jet of water and the flying hair, and the lovely soft focus background all makes for a stunning image.

Judges' Special Award

Sponsored by BASF

Winner: Carving it up: who owns Australia's production?, ABC Rural

Judges’ comments: This innovative, multi-platform body of work cut through much of the often ill-informed debate about foreign investment in Australian agriculture with some fascinating insight into just who owns what. This series provided in-depth coverage of the sugar, wine, beef, horticulture, dairy and grain industries and our own role in investing overseas in agricultural production. It provided interesting statistics on ownership, backed up by interviews with farmers, investors and industry representatives in the field. With photographs, audio, graphics and fact boxes, it is a great example of how using different platform technology in the “new” media can really tell a compelling story.

Photographer of the year

Sponsored by RACV

Commended: Jim Aldersey, Bendigo Advertiser

Highly Commended: Glenn Daniels, Bendigo Advertiser

Judges’ comments:A strong collection of images showing the diversity needed to work in the press game.

Winner: Dylan Robinson, The Border Mail

Judges’ comments: Dylan’s portfolio showed excellent variety, technique and creativity. Use of unusual angles and clever juxtaposition enables Dylan to turn a good image into a great image. His use of technique can illustrate the drama of the moment. His use of natural light also enhances some beautiful portraits.

 

Ray Frawley Young Journalist of the Year

Commended: Jeremy Story Carter, ABC

Judges’ comments: Jeremy’s portfolio of stories informed and entertained; they treated their subjects with respect; and transported the listener into these people’s lives without trying to be over-earnest or sensational.

They examined the aftermath of bushfire, the story of a family leaving the farm after three generations and a light-hearted interview with a farmer whose off-farm job is that of an ageing punk rocker.

Highly commended: Jennifer Henderson , ABC Radio

Judges’ comments: Jennifer’s reports focussed on the stories of soldiers who have returned to regional communities and who have turned to social media to network and support each other. The journalist used this same medium to contact the veterans -- of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts -- and to gain their trust in allowing her to eventually tell their stories in a mature and constructive manner. This was an instructive example of journalism providing a community service, while also raising serious questions about the military hierarchy's attitude towards veterans who suffer health issues arising from war zone experiences.

Winner: Tessa Haywood, Hamilton Spectator

Judges’ comments: Tessa Haywood took what could otherwise be routine country town stories and crafted from them interesting and informative reads. Two local institutions -- one brand new and one celebrating its centenary -- that would normally just blend into the background were given centre stage. That shows a keen insight into what matters in a local community -- its people. The third story about a local motor cyclist's experience in a Chinese hospital after breaking his hip was a truly captivating read and demonstrated genuine feature-writing talent.

Journalist of the Year

Sponsored by RACV

Commended: Danny Lannen, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: The quadriplegic footballer Casey Tutungi; the forgotten soldier, Norm Lane, who gave his name to a local suburb but whose life would otherwise have been forgotten; and the distressing story of Leo Seemanpillai, the Tamil refugee who burned himself to death in public. All three stories show a gifted journalist with the skill and sensitivity to share the stories of people whose stories need to be heard because of what they tell us about our community, and history and our future.

Highly commended: Sue Neales, The Australian

Judges’ comments: Sue's entry comprises a suite of stories that demonstrate initiative, insight and extraordinary versatility in story concept. The report on the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter bidding war is a particularly stand-out article -- an excellent example of how intricately researched business reporting can then be brought to life and made accessible to anyone; deftly melding finance and trading data with human interest.

Winner: Emma Field, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: Emma Field’s three entries showcase the hard hitting (though not very ‘sexy’) stories she put together using research and persistence. They caught the attention of a number of state and national organisations which have since promised change. If "impact" determines the value of a portfolio, Emma’s rates highly.

Media Outlet of the Year

 

Sponsored by the CFA

Commended: Ballarat Courier

Judges’ comments: The Courier’s commitment to the ‘It’s up to us’ campaign to fight domestic violence is a fine example of a regional paper’s role in its community. The Courier is also taking positive steps to blend traditional and new media platforms to enhance its news and feature coverage.

Highly Commended: The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: The Weekly Times understands and serves its readership better than almost any other publication in the country. From cover to cover it is the full package of real news, issues analysis, human interest and community service. Regional Victoria is enriched by its presence.

Winner: Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: The Advertiser shows consistently high professional standards and performs a well-balanced community role; tackles the accountability issues inherent in the machinations of local power and politics, but also seeks out stories that contribute to social cohesion and to a positive sense of identity for the Geelong community. The newsroom presents itself as being unambiguously proud of its community which it will defend, cajole, stir, challenge and celebrate with shameless enthusiasm.

Thank you to our sponsors:

  • RACV
  • Victorian Farmers Federation
  • Transport Accident Commission
  • Telstra
  • Dairy Australia
  • CFA
  • Currie Communications
  • Devondale (Murray Goulburn)
  • BASF
  • V/Line
  • Coretext
  • Rural Finance
  • Dairy News Australia

 

2013 results

Best Feature 

Sponsored by Redstick Strategic Communications

Commended: Hero label does not apply, Mandy Squires, Geelong Advertiser

The sober truth  Kim Stephens, The Courier, Ballarat

Highly Commended: Grampians aftermath, Katrina Weatherly, Western District Farmer (Hamilton Spectator supplement)

Winner: It’s up to us, Kim Quinlan, The Courier, Ballarat

 

Judges’ comments: The almost 70 entries were all worthy contenders with a good mix of campaign stories, personality stories and stories that provided background and analysis of the news of the day. Features take a lot of time and reporters often have to fit features in around their daily news rounds and deadlines. The variety and depth reflected the passion and commitment of journalists in regional media.

Working with the local Citizen of the Year to launch a campaign against violence is a worthy task for a media outlet. Having that Citizen talk about their own long-term history of violence against woman is a show stopper. It’s a great compliment to the Courier that Tony Lovett trusted it to use his story to talk about the issue and not to simply demonise him for a sensational headline.

 

 

Best Regional News Story

 

Sponsored by Telstra  

Highly Commended:

Crisis at Wangaratta Council , David Johnston, The Border Mail

Aberfeldy Fire Day Five , Tom Kelly, Win Television

NBN Asbestos Crisis , Tom Cowie, Jordan Oliver, Gav McGrath and Pat Byrne, Ballarat Courier

Winner:  Raging Bull, Tammy Mills, The Border Mail

Judge’s comments: An impressive 59 entries from all over the state, covering everything from councils, crime and car crashes to footy, fires and Facebook….it’s a news list to make any chief of staff or news director salivate over.

Country Victoria knows full well the pain caused by drugs. But one reporter took it upon herself to investigate when police contacts told her of the deadly side-effects of the synthetic drug White Bull.

Brought across the counter at sex shops, it was considered legal but reporter Tammy Mills from the Border Mail decided to dig deeper and have the substance analysed.

The results were startling. The tests revealed that it contained a chemical known as MDVP, an illegal substance in the same legislative category as Ice. Her report, supported by her graphic interviews with users, led to White Bull being banned state-wide and contributed to the federal push to ban synthetic drugs.

Perhaps, most importantly of all, the story has almost certainly prevented more deaths.

 

Best Rural News Story

Sponsored by the Victoria Farmers Federation

Highly commended:

Stock loss pain , Emma Field, The Weekly Times

Centre lives on ...in Canada , Danielle Grindlay, Hamilton Spectator 

Winner:

$42,000 to kill 23 goats , Emma Field, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: The classic news story is the blue ribbon 100-metre event of media reporting. As the category title suggests, it is about news. The story must provide the reader with new information, especially something that hasn’t been reported elsewhere. The importance of story is that it should be either front-page or lead a news bulletin.  A good news story is one which some people or organisations would prefer not to be reported. Emma’s report on the high cost to cull feral goats in a national parks and the fact that culling contract was given to a New Zealand firm ticked all of these boxes.

 

Best Agriculture Story 

Sponsored by Dairy Australia

Highly commended:

When great minds meat,  James Wagstaff, The Weekly Times 

Holm on the range , Fiona Myers, The Weekly Times 

Winner:

Milk wars , Tim Lee, Ron Ekkel, James Fisher and Corina Scott, Landline  

Judges’ comments: A highly informative and thoughtfully constructed account of dairy farmers who have diversified into producing, packaging and marketing their own branded milk as a value-adding strategy designed to ensure their on-going viability in an environment of diminishing farm gate prices.  The interviews with new boutique-style branded milk producers are cleverly interwoven into a broader account of the current state of the industry and the challenges facing dairy farmers against the backdrop of heavy milk discounting by the supermarket chains.

 

Best Production

Sponsored by Devondale  

Highly commended

Natalee Ward and Travis Kennedy, FARM magazine

Laura Poole and Larissa Romensky, I spy a crocodile, ABC Rural

Winner:  Mark Bogue, Headline selection, The Weekly Times

Judges’ comments: If the selection of headlines that Weekly Times sub-editor Mark Bogue submitted for this year’s awards is any indication, the craft of headline writing is alive and well in rural journalism. The headlines – Barmah’s mane drag, Fluent in fowl language and When bush comes to shove – are clever and witty and succeed in encapsulating the essence of the stories they accompany. The skill in producing headlines of this standard in a short space of time can often be under-appreciated and this trio from Mark makes him a very worthy winner.

 

Best News Photography

Sponsored by CBH Group  

Highly Commended:

Crash Landing,  Ray Sizer, Shepparton News

Siege at Benalla , Ray Sizer, Shepparton News

Winner:

Racial Slur , Dean Koopman, Hamilton Spectator

Judges’ comments: A simple but thought-provoking image that told its story well – the definition of good news photography. This image showed the impact - the isolation and loneliness – of a racist slur on a rural sportsperson and stood out to both judges immediately for its high news value.

 

Best General Interest Photography

Sponsored by the Transport Accident Commission  

Highly Commended:

The Still Of The Night , Kate Healy, The Courier

Welcome Home, Mr Premier , Damian White,The Warrnambool Standard

Winner:

Captain Daffy , Rob Gunstone, The Warrnambool Standard

Judges’ comments: A good, fun image that captured the pleasure of the subject and Captain Daffy’s obvious authority and total control of the situation, combined with sound technical skill for a captivating result.

 

Photographer of the year

Sponsored by RACV

Winner: Dean Koopman, Hamilton Spectator

  

Ray Frawley Young Journalist of the Year

Highly commended: Alex Sinnott, WIN TV

Judges’ comments: Win TV’s Alex Sinnott also submitted an impressive body of work that highlighted his versatility as a television journalist. Of particular merit was his report on the south-west telephone exchange fire. The comprehensive package was filmed and written without the use of mobile phones or the internet and under considerable deadline pressure.

 

Winner: Alex Sampson, Weekly Times 

Judges’ comments: Alex has been a graded journalist for little over twelve months but her portfolio of work over that time has shown an excellence and maturity beyond her experience. She has tackled with considerable aplomb and determination some of the biggest issues facing rural and regional Victoria, including the controversial relocation of the Melbourne Markets from Footscray to Epping, the gradual demise of the canned fruit industry in Victoria and the aftermath of Black Saturday in affected communities.

 

Journalist of the Year

Sponsored by RACV 

Highly commended: David Johnson, Border Mail

Judges’ comments: David Johnson is recognised for his work as the Border Mail’s local government reporter. David led the way in covering the upheaval at the Wangaratta Council with breaking news and analysis that was followed up by state authorities and the metropolitan media. 

Winner: Danny Lannen, Geelong Advertiser

Judges’ comments: Danny’s entry was a standout with a collection of news and feature stories showcasing his writing talents. All involved deeply personal accounts on issues ranging from refugee policy, forced adoptions to the impact of suicide on a prominent member of the Geelong community. All were handled with appropriate sensitivity and empathy, free of sensationalism.

 

Media Outlet of the Year 

Sponsored by the CFA

Finalists: The Warrnambool Standard, The Border Mail, The Hamilton Spectator, The Ballarat Courier

Judges’ comments: It was more old-fashioned methods that helped the Warrnambool Standard made it stand out. While the south-west community was paralysed by the town’s telephone exchange fire, Standard staff showed a dogged determination to get the paper out, with phone-less reporters pounding the streets for information and subs driving USB sticks to Ballarat to set up a makeshift office at the Courier.

 Like the Standard, the Border Mail and the Hamilton Spectator have also been recognised for their on-going commitment to their readership with campaigning journalism that has really made a difference.

 The Courier, meanwhile, is leading the way with new technologies. Reporters and photographers file using Iphones and Ipads and are constantly learning new skills to update content as it happens.

Winner: The Ballarat Courier

Judges’ comments: For so long the leading provider of news and information to the Ballarat region, the Courier has taken its coverage to new levels with its on-line and digital presence. Through its multi-media platforms, the paper has broken significant national stories such as the NBN roll-out asbestos scare, as well as providing comprehensive reporting on health issues and the summer bushfires that wreaked so much havoc

 Thank you to our sponsors:

- RACV

- CBH Group

- Victorian Farmers Federation

- Transport Accident Commission

- Telstra

- Dairy Australia

- Redstick Strategic Communications

- CFA

- Devondale (Murray Goulburn)





 

2012 results

Best Regional News Story

Sponsored by Telstra

Commended

Brave Girl, Elizabeth O’Brien, Sunraysia Daily

Highly commended

Footy in a tangle, Cimara Pearce and Roslyn Lanigan, The Weekly Times

Winner

The Penshurst crash, Mary Alexander and the editorial team,     Warrnambool Standard

Best Rural News Story

Sponsored by Victorian Farmers Federation

Commended

Is processing dead? Louise Preece, Stock & Land

Highly commended

Wind wind-back a worry for green energy advocates, Anthony Stewart, ABC News

Winner

ATV photo stoush, Fiona Myers, The Weekly Times

Best Feature – all media 

Sponsored by Redstick Strategic Communications

Commended

Five decades of regional television, Alex Sinnot, Warrnambool Standard

Highly Commended

London Calling, Matilda Abey, The Weekly Times

Winner

Let's talk about it, Kathy Bedford, Rob Harris and the Statewide Drive team, ABC Victoria

Best Agriculture Story

Sponsored by Dairy Australia

Commended

The farmer's foe: Fantastic Mr Fox, Danielle Grindlay, Hamilton Spectator

Highly commended

It's still our land after 150 years, Chris McLennan, The Weekly Times

Winner

Marius champions wool, Danielle Grindlay, Hamilton Spectator

Best Production

Sponsored by Cargill

Highly Commended

Reg the Veg, Lucy Barbour and Larissa Romensky, ABC Rural

Winner

100 greatest country Australians, Natalee Ward and Cristina Panozzo, The Weekly Times

Best News Photograph

Sponsored by CBH Group

Commended

Player vs Spectator, Ray Sizer, Shepparton News

Highly commended

Convicted, Jim Aldersey, Bendigo Advertiser

Winner

Horse stuck in the mud, Peter Ristevski, Geelong Advertiser

Best General Interest Photograph

Sponsored by TAC

Highly commended

Naidoc Week celebrations, Vicky Hughson, Warrnambool Standard

Winner

Moving the sheep, Steve Hynes, Warrnambool Standard

Best Video Vision

Sponsored by Murray Goulburn

Highly Commended

Boxing Day murder, Julian Fisher, Channel Nine News Melbourne

Winner

Murphy Street arrests, Julian Fisher, The Bendigo Advertiser

The Ray Frawley Award – Young Journalist of the Year

Commended

Chris Gillett, Geelong Advertiser

Highly Commended

Lisa Cameron, Hamilton Spectator

Winner

Ted O'Connor, Wimmera Mail Times

2012 RPCV Photographer of the Year

Sponsored by RACV Royal Auto

Winner

Ben Robson, The Border Mail

2012 RPCV Journalist of the Year

Sponsored by RACV

Winner

Danielle Grindlay, The Hamilton Spectator

2012 RPCV Media Outlet of the Year

Sponsored by NAB

Winner

The Hamilton Spectator

Thank you to our award sponsors:

  • Telstra
  • TAC
  • Dairy Australia
  • CBH
  • RACV
  • RoyalAuto
  • NAB Agribusiness
  • Redstick
  • VFF
  • Murray Goulburn
  • Cargill

2011 winners


 

Best Regional News Story

BEST REGIONAL NEWS STORY

Sponsored by Telstra

WINNER

Darren Linton
Shepparton News
“Muto faces the sack"

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Danny Lannen
Geelong Advertiser
“Geelong’s walk”

COMMENDED

Kristy McDonald
The Spectator, Hamilton
“Legs up, who’s had a pap smear lately?”

Carlene Dowie and Kathryn Duxbury
Carisbrook Mercury
“Carisbrook floods”

Andrew Mole
The Weekly Times
“Ducks pay the bills”


BEST RURAL NEWS STORY

Sponsored by Victorian Farmers Federation

WINNER

Fiona Myers
The Weekly Times
“Roll barred”

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Andrew Mole
The Weekly Times
“It’s a fruitless task”

Leslie White
The Weekly Times
“Down, down”

Cathy Walker
Shepparton News
“Political bullets fly”


BEST FEATURE STORY OR SERIES –  ALL MEDIA

Sponsored by TAC

WINNER

Greg Muller
ABC Rural, Bush Telegraph
“Alpine cattle return to the national park” series

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Kristy McDonald 
The Spectator, Hamilton
“Road safety” series

Andrew Mole
The Weekly Times
“Mission fades as time blows by”


BEST ONLINE STORY

Sponsored by Rural Finance 

WINNER

The Courier Online, Ballarat
“The January floods”

HIGHLY COMMENDED BEST ONLINE STORY

Lucy Nash
ABC Gippsland
“Diary of a Showgirl”

Rebecca McLaren
ABC Local Radio, Horsham
“Rain Reshapes Grampians National Park”


BEST EDITING, SUB EDITING OR DESIGN

Sponsored by Department of Sustainability and Environment

WINNER

Natalee Ward
Farm magazine, The Weekly Times
“Where the wild things are”, “Out for a duck”, “French polish”

HIGHLY COMMENDED BEST EDITING, SUB EDITING OR DESIGN

Travis Kennedy
Home and Farm magazines, The Weekly Times
“Factory Worker” and “Hip Hops”

Mark Bogue
The Weekly Times
“Party Poopers”, “Pollie has a crack”, “A horse walks into a bar …”


BEST AGRICULTURE STORY

Sponsored by Dairy Australia 

WINNER

Tim Lee
ABC Television, Landline
“Empire of the Sons”

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Ebony Piera
WIN News
“McCain price dispute”

COMMENDED

Gemma Gadd
The Weekly Times
“High way or Subway for Wagyu”


BEST VIDEO VISION

Sponsored by Currie Communications

WINNER

Julian Fisher
Nine Network
“Rochester's worst ever flood” 


BEST NEWS PHOTOGRAPH

Sponsored by CBH

WINNER

Yuri Kouzmin
The Weekly Times
“Blood Bath”

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Jeremy Bannister
The Courier, Ballarat
“Deluge”


BEST FEATURE /GENERAL INTEREST PHOTOGRAPH

Sponsored by Redstick Strategic Communications

WINNER

Alex Ellinghausen
The Bendigo Advertiser
“Locust cleanup”

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Kate Healy
Wimmera Mail Times
Cultures Combine”


THE RAY FRAWLEY AWARD – YOUNG JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR

Alex Sinnott
The Warnambool Standard
“Federal Election 2010”


JUDGES SPECIAL AWARD

Sponsored by NAB

WINNER

Alison Wynd
Geelong Advertiser
“A Journey into Africa”

HIGHLY COMMENDED

John M. Lewis
Shepparton News
“Billy Bell”

Tim Lee
ABC Television, Landline
“Rodeo Juniors” 


PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by RACV

Jeremy Bannister,
The Courier, Ballarat


JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by RoyalAuto

Alison Wynd
Geelong Advertiser


RPCV would like to thank its 2011 awards sponsors: 

  • Telstra
  • VFF
  • TAC
  • DSE
  • Dairy Australia
  • CBH
  • Redstick Strategic Communications
  • Currie Communications
  • Rural Finance
  • NAB
  • RACV
  • RACV RoyalAuto
  • %2