Rural journo could win trip to Netherlands


One rural Australian journalist (18-35 years) has the chance to attend a boot camp with their international peers in the Netherlands next year.
ABC journalist Danielle Grindlay was successful in 2016 and attended the IFAJ Congress in Bonn, Germany. Read more about her experience here.
The winning candidate would receive €1000 (AUD$1500) towards the cost of airfares and registration at the annual IFAJ (International Federation of Agricultural Journalists) Congress. Learn more about the Congress here.
Who can enter: Any young journalist (18-35 years) showing professional and leadership potential. Entrants must be members of the Rural Press Club of Victoria.
Entry criteria: Examples of published work and written explanation of professional and leadership potential. See online application form here.
How does it work: The Australian winner will be selected by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) and progress to international judging, where 10 entrants are selected from across the globe.
What is on offer: The 10 Young Leaders selected by the IFAJ each receive €1000 towards the cost of airfares and registration at the IFAJ congress (participation in the boot camp is free).
To apply, please visit the ACAJ website by Friday, December 16.

RPCV New President - Laura Poole



The Rural Press Club of Victoria has a new president in Laura Poole.
Laura, vice-president for the past two years, takes over from Rex Martinich, senior journalist at the Ararat Advertiser and Stawell Times News, who has been in the top job for the past two years.
Laura started her journalism career with the Wimmera Mail-Times. She moved into broadcast media with the ABC, initially working as the Western Victoria Rural Reporter. After a stint presenting and producing the South Australian Country Hour, Laura moved back to her home of Gippsland where she is the chief of staff of ABC Gippsland. She is passionate about quality journalism in regional Australia, and loves living and working in Gippsland.
“Regional communities need strong journalism, and the press club is here to support journalists in a changing media landscape and celebrate their great work,” she said.
Laura will oversee the current review of the RPCV award categories. The committee plans to make some subtle changes to reflect the changing platforms regional journalists are filing to more regularly.
This year’s annual awards night was held in August, in front of a crowd of 110 rural journalists. The club received more than 300 entries from across Victoria, southern New South Wales and Tasmania.
Laura led the Club’s involvement in organising a successful event in Gippsland last month featuring Tracey Spicer. More than 100 people attended the Warragul event, which the RPCV staged in collaboration with Women in Media and Women in Gippsland .
Rex will stay on as vice-president of the club.
“As president for 2016-17, I’d like to thank all committee members and those that attended
and helped out at events,” he said.
The committee welcomes Stephen Cooke, Dairy News Australia, back to the treasurer’s role, and Laura Griffin, Currie Communications, returns as secretary.
The RPCV’s next event is a news photography workshop planned for December 4.
Details will be posted at shortly.


2017 Awards Night


The Bendigo Advertiser named Media Outlet of the Year at Rural Press Club of Victoria awards.

The Bendigo Advertiser has been named Media Outlet of the Year at the Rural Press Club of Victoria’s Journalism & Photography Awards, held at South Wharf in Melbourne on Friday, August 25.

The newspaper claimed the prestigious title, ahead of three other finalists - the Sunraysia Daily, ABC Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley Express.
The Bendigo Advertiser editor Nicole Ferrie accepted the award on the night.
Rural Press Club of Victoria President, Rex Martinich, said the Media Outlet of the Year finalists have covered some of the key events in regional Victoria in the last 12 months.
Martinich said the Advertiser’s commitment to its community, combined with its willingness to tell stories in new ways and on new platforms, stood out.
The judging panel said the Bendigo Advertiser was a fierce advocate for its community, but still challenged its readers. “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.”

The Weekly Times’ Simone Smith was named Journalist of the Year.

The panel of judges said Smith’s body of work demonstrated a developed contact list.
“Smith has worked her industry contacts for these stories and then always value 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,” noted the panel of judges.

Jay Town of the Geelong Advertiser was named Photographer of the Year. Town’s work held-up as an example of photography, where the essence of a situation can be grasped immediately by the reader.

A highly competitive field in the Ray Frawley Young Journalist of the Year showed that the future is in good hands. The award was presented to Bridget Judd, ahead of Christopher Testa from the Sunraysia Daily, and Tara Fry from the Hamilton Spectator.
This is the second year in a row Judd has won the Journalist of the Year award.

“For Bridget to gain the 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,” the judging panel wrote of Judd’s work.

The awards took place on Friday 25 August in front of 125 people, including 110 of Victoria’s leading rural and regional media.
The other winners were:
•Best Feature Series (daily/state based newspaper): Natalie Kotsios, The Weekly Times
•Best Feature Series (non daily newspapers):Stephanie Charalambous, Jarrod Whittaker, Paul Grant, Bryce Eishold and Farrah Plummer, Latrobe Valley Express
•Best Feature Story (daily/state newspapers): Greg Dundas, Geelong Advertiser
•Best Feature Story (broadcast: Fiona Pepper), ABC RN
•Best Feature Story (non daily newspaper): Tara Fry, Hamilton Spectator
•Best News Story: Bridget Judd, ABC South West Victoria
•Best Campaign: Australian Community Media, Andrew Eales
•Best Multimedia: The Bendigo Advertiser
•Best Agribusiness: Simone Smith, The Weekly Times
•Best On Farm story: Carlene Dowie, The Australian Dairyfarmer
•Best Sports Story: Ryan Reynolds, Geelong Advertiser
•Best News Photography: Josh Nash, Portland Observer
•Best General Interest Photography: Billy-jay Easson, Hamilton Spectator
•Best Sports Photography: Kate Healy, The Ballarat Courier


Tracey Spicer in Gippsland



The Rural Press Club of Victoria helped organise a successful event in Gippsland on September 15 featuring Tracey Spicer. More than 100 people attended the Warragul event, which the RPCV staged in collaboration with Women in Media and Women in Gippsland. Tracey told the audience to stand up for gender inequality in the workforce. “I never asked for a pay rise. I tell my mentees you need to ask for a pay rise, and expect a push back.”



Deputy Nationals Leader - Senator Fiona Nash


Senator Fiona Nash, Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories and Regional Communications, spoke at the Rural Press Club of Victoria on November 23, 2016. Senator Nash spoke about positive language use and media coverage of regional Australia, the need for regional investment, her initiatives in improving communications and announces a new $297 million regional fund. Senator Nash was asked about the need for more internet bandwidth in rural areas to drive innovation in agriculture. She said remote areas that previously lacked any substantial internet service had appreciated the roll out of the National Broadband Network's Skymuster satellite service. Senator Nash said she had played a role in improving the remote NBN project and the mobile coverage black spot program. She compared the higher cost of population expansion on Melbourne's fringe with the lower cost of the same growth in the regions.

Wimmera lunch with CFA Chief Officer, Steven Warrington


CFA Chief Officer Steven Warrington discusses his community-centred approach to emergency management, and Victoria’s upcoming fire season, at a special lunch at Laharum, near Horsham, on Wednesday, October 19, 2016.

Steven was appointed CFA Chief Officer on June 30 after a 35-year career in emergency management that started as a volunteer firefighter.


The Wimmera Mail Times - CFA announces new pilot trial for western Victoria, with Elvis absent this bushfire season

Young Leader award


IFAJ Congress 2016, Bonn, Germany

Young Journalist award recipient Danielle Grindlay of the ABC reports

I knew I was in the right place when, during welcome drinks, the dairy crisis and genetically modified crops took up most of our little group’s discussion. Most rural journalists work and live in isolated areas, so one of the hugest joys in attending this year’s International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) congress was to bounce ideas off like-minded people.

Considering how unique our bubbles are, the commonalities between us were uncanny.  

Here I was in Europe, where 150 cows and a generational farming family cohabit 15 hectares.  I remember looking at my New Zealand peer with wide eyes as we toured the large shed.  But then we sat down to lunch and next to our German host was a journalist from Rwanda, who explained that the average farm in his world was less than 1 hectare!  And yet our motley crew from across Europe, Africa, America, New Zealand, Nepal and Canada are reporting on exactly the same issues in different pockets of the world.  During our week of animated discussion, I gained new insight into climate change, rural decline, government policy, innovation, technology and the place of agricultural journalism in society.  

I sat through a panel discussion about sustainability in German agriculture – if it wasn’t for the German language, we could have been having exactly the same discussion in Australia.  My ‘Young Leader’ peers also share a frustration at how undervalued both agriculture and agricultural journalism is in our respective countries.

Many of them were concerned about job security and spoke of national publications’ resistance to publish stories about agriculture and rural life. They were an outstanding group of journalists, but also just wonderful human beings: Although the duration of the congress was spent in Germany, I took home tid bits of culture from a long list of countries.

One of the strongest messages I packed in my luggage relates to my function as a rural journalist in Australia – I am not working to serve farmers, nor the greater agricultural community.  My job is to engage every Australian in the dairy crisis and the philosophical debate behind genetically modified crops, because consumers are key to shaping the policies around primary production and the future of our nation.

Also reinforced was how unique and undervalued the IFAJ network is.

We, like farmers, are a global community and the decisions made on that 15-hectare farm just outside of Bonn, are as relevant to an Australian audience as they are to the people of Germany. The plight of farmer Jorg Rossenbach is, sadly, one most Victorian dairy farmers relate to: a milk cheque that covers just 70 per cent of his productions costs.

But how do Government subsidies play a part? And how are consumers supporting farmers? What are farmers saying about quota restrictions?

I now have invaluable contacts willing to answer questions like these, so I too can better comprehend and report on the market forces that impact farmers and consumers alike. It is difficult for an outsider to observe how the IFAJ congress has shaped my career, back in my regional corner of Victoria.

It gave me something I’d already been faking since starting with ABC Rural – a confidence and belief that my work is meaningful, that the life path I’ve chosen in some way matters. It is a gift that drives me forward every day and one I highly recommend any regional Australian journalist consider chasing to Africa next year, for the 2017 IFAJ congress.


Women in Gippsland