The Prodis: The Northern NSW Journalism Awards

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Winners of the 2013 Northern NSW Journalism Awards

Congratulations to the finalists and winners of the 2013 Northern NSW Journalism PRODI Awards

It was a great celebration of Australian journalism in Newcastle on Saturday night with the annual presentation of Northern NSW’s regional journalism awards, the PRODIs.  

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance federal secretary Christopher Warren gave the official welcome for the event, which was hosted by ABC Newcastle’s Phil Ashley Brown.

The major award for the evening, Journalist of the Year, was awarded to Joanne McCarthy from the Newcastle Herald for her work “Shining the Light”.

Maitland Mercury Chief of Staff and Chief Photographer Cath Bowen was awarded the PRODI for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism in recognition of her 30 years of service in the region.

2013 category winners :

Journalist of the Year

Sponsored by Newcastle Newspapers

Winner:

 Joanne McCarthy: Newcastle Herald

“Shining the Light”

Judges' Comment:

Joanne McCarthy was the stand out winner for this year’s journalist of the year, with the judges’ unanimous decision. Joanne’s powerful work led to the NSW Royal commission into the Catholic Diocese in the Hunter. Well written and researched. As written: “we are inherently, a society that believes in the fair go, and we respond when the concept is trashed by the powerful, and ignored by those whose duty it is to represent us.” 
Joanne you have well represented the Journalists of Northern NSW. 

 

Outstanding Contribution to Journalism

Sponsored by Media Super

Winner:

Cath Bowen: Maitland Mercury

Cath's Nomination Statement by Liz Tickner, Editor, Maitland Mercury can be found at the bottom of this article.


The Tom Barrass Award for Regional Journalism

Sponsored by the Barrass Family

Winner:

Stephen Jeffery: Fairfax Regional Media

“Sex abuse scandal rocks Armidale Catholic diocese”

Finalists:

  • Rudi Maxwell: The Koori Mail

“Police Brutality”

  • Samantha Turnbull: ABC North Coast

“Assange”, “Coal Seam Gas”, “Doping” and “Poo on a Stick”

Judges' Comment:

Stephen Jeffrey a well-deserved winner, his entry “ICAC Raids Torbay Offices” a local story that was followed by other media around the nation. Good to see a young journalist using his contacts and a story coming from a tip off. His entry reads like an old fashioned journalist keen to break stories and work his contacts.
The rest of his entries showed a terrier like attitude to chasing information, working sources and persisting with a story.

 

PF Adams Young Journalist Award

Sponsored by Hunter and New England TAFE

Winner:

Georgie Lowe: Fairfax /Maitland Mercury

“Council Cover Up: $1million down the drain in Maitland”

Finalists:

  • Anna-Lise Rosendahl: NBN News

“Tweed Floods 2013”

  • Stephen Jeffery: Fairfax Regional Media

“ICAC raids Torbay”

Judges' Comment:

Georgia Lowe’s comprehensive investigation into financial mismanagement by the Maitland City Council in "$1million down the drain" was a fine example of how powerful regional journalism can be.
The detail in the piece is a testament to her perserverance and her fearless pursuit of a cracking yarn.
Her questions were dismissed by some of the key players, including the current mayor, but she found another way to reach the core of the story.
Her writing is sharp, punchy and her investigation put together with forensic precision.
Georgia is absolutely deserving of this award.

 

All Media-Best Investigative Journalist

Sponsored by Newcastle Newspapers

Winner:

Donna Page: Newcastle Herald, SMH, Melb Age and Brisbane Times

“Trail of debt”

Highly Commended:

  • Jane Hansen:Sunday Telegraph Agenda

“My desperate fight to win my children back” 

Finalist: 

  • Belinda-Jane Davis: Maitland Mercury       

“GONE: The rail dilemma”   

Judges' Comment:

Page's investigation into the financial collapse of one of the country's most high-profile businessmen ensured that the Newcastle Herald was not beaten on its home turf. The series shattered the veneer of Tinkler's success raising questions about his ability to pay his debts and foreshadowing the turmoil that beset the Tinkler companies. It was well-written, meticulously researched and served the public interest in pressuring the businessman to pay the small suppliers who had been crippled by his failure to meet his debts.

 

All Media-Best Sport Coverage

Sponsored by Hunter and New England TAFE

Winner:

James Gardiner: Newcastle Newspapers

“Offside - breaking down the Jets”

Highly Commended:

  • Robert Dillon: Newcastle Newspapers

“Faster, Higher, Stronger”

Judges' Comment:

James Gardiner’s A-league football coverage exemplified the best traditions of sports reporting: newsy, engaging and often exclusive stories that revealed compelling information. Despite communications barriers put up by local football authorities his reports provided detailed local coverage of the code, giving readers an inside run on the machinations of modern international sport.

 

All Media-Commentary, Analysis, Opinion & Critique

Sponsored by Media Super

Winner:

Greg Ray: Newcastle Herald   

“Newcastle Herald: Greg Ray opinion columns”

Finalists:

  • Anthony Scully: ABC Open

When Tweeps are your peeps”  

  • Alison Branley: Newcastle Newspapers

“Odd place this Newie”

Judges' Comment:

Greg Ray was the clear winner in this category with his amusing, incisive and clever style. 
His topics were diverse, his approach was creative and his ideas were fresh.
His columns were very well-written and the judges believe he deserves a wider audience.
Witty, thought-provoking, original work. Congratulations.



All Media - Best Feature, Documentary or Current Affairs

Sponsored by Newcastle Newspapers

Winner:

Robert Dillon: Newcastle Herald

“Playing hard ball”

Finalists:

  • Jane Goldsmith: NBN Television

“One Punch” (New series aired over 3 nights)  

  • Helen Gregory: Newcastle Herald

Going for Broke”

  • Jane Hansen:News Limited/Sunday Telegraph

“My desperate fight to win my children back” 

Judges' Comment:

Robert Dillon's feature "Hard Ball" chronicled one of the hottest news stories in Northern NSW - the dramatic unravelling of Nathan Tinkler's sporting empire. The feature was a well written, detailed and accurate account with useful pockets of intrigue. The story gave readers an insight not just into Tinkler's businesses and the two football teams but also the impact on the wider community. As one judge put it "I have no interest in rugby league but it made me want to keep reading through to the end."

 

Photography/Print/Online - Best Photography/Filming

Sponsored by Media Super

Winner:

Jonathan Carroll: Fairfax/ Newcastle Herald

Six of the Best” 

Finalists:

  • Simone De Peak: Newcastle Herald

“Year in Review” 

  • Patrick Gorbunovs: APN Australian Regional Media   

“Body of Work”  

Judges' Comment:

Capturing the decisive moment makes for a good press photograph. Combining it with beautiful light sends the image into another dimension. Jonathan's best photography winning frames are exemplary in defining what great photographs are made of. Creating images like his takes spades of creativity, patience and a sharp eye.

 

Photography/Print/Online - Best use of Photography in News, Feature or Sport

Sponsored by Nikon

Winner:

Natalie Grono: The Newcastle Herald      

“Underground art”      

Finalists:

  • Max Mason-Hubers: Newcastle Herald

“A sandy lesson” 

  • Patrick Gorbunovs: APN Australian Regional Media

“Doubtful”

Judges' Comment:

Natalie's winning entry of Feature pics was full of refreshing, edgy and thought provoking images. The black and white photographs - reminiscent of another time - challenged the viewer but at the same time they were a pleasure to look at again and again.  A deserving winner.

 

Radio - News and Current Affairs Reporting

Sponsored by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance

Winner:

Bruce MacKenzie: ABC News –Nationally

“Wategoat”

Finalist:

  • Catherine Clifford: ABC Regional News

“Regional Racing Corruption Scandal”    

Judges' Comment:

This was an example of radio reporting at its best. Bruce MacKenzie reported from the scene of a rescue mission for a stranded goat known as ‘Wategoat’ in Cape Byron. The judges were impressed with Mackenzie’s creative writing style which used poetic undertones.  The report was descriptive, newsworthy and the issue itself had posed a massive challenge for animal rescue teams at the time.

 

Print - Best News Story  

Sponsored by Hunter and New England TAFE

Winner:

Donna Page: Newcastle Herald

“Critical condition”       

Finalists:

  • Matthew Kelly: Newcastle Herald   

“Air Pressure - Air quality and human health in the Hunter”       

  • Rudi Maxwell: The Koori Mail

“Police Brutality” 

  • Belinda-Jane Davis: Maitland Mercury       

“A woman's worst nightmare” 

Judges' Comment:

Page did an excellent job in exposing systematic problems at John Hunter Hospital. Her dogged pursuit of the truth behind the hospital's failings, which included drawing out sources and an unrelenting freedom of information campaign, prompted immediate improvements to patient services, particularly with the elderly.

 

Cath Bowen's Nomination Statement
by Liz Tickner, Editor, Maitland Mercury:

The Maitland Mercury celebrated its 170 anniversary on January 7 this year, making it the second oldest newspaper outside the Sydney Morning Herald in NSW, and the oldest regional daily on mainland Australia.

It is only fitting, therefore, that on behalf of the Maitland Mercury's newsroom, we nominate the paper's Chief Photographer and Chief of Staff, Cath Bowen, for this year's Outstanding Contribution to Journalism Award.
 
Cath Bowen will soon celebrate her own personal milestone at the Maitland Mercury - clocking up 30 years in the coming months. The Maitand Mercury was her first job as a photographer and it has been her only place of employment. She wears as a badge of pride the fact that she was offered and turned down a job as a photographer on the Sydney Morning Herald for a number of reasons - she hated the city, she wouldn't have been able to march into the editor's office to tell the editor what she thought (as she does daily in Maitland) - but above all else, she couldn't bear leaving the Maitland Mercury and town she loves so dearly.
 
In her 29 years with the Mercury, Cath has photographically covered all the 'biggies' - the Newcastle earthquake, floods, politicians, civic leaders, criminals, sportsmen and woman, people who have died too young, people who have survived against all odds.
She has photographed prime ministers including Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Julia Gillard - the latter holding a copy of the Maitland Mercury's Pickers' Magazine - and we think the reason why Kevin Rudd has been given another go at the prime ministership is that Cath hadn't added his scalp to her belt his first time around.
 
Cath is an award winning photography - awards that include Prodis and Country Press of NSW accolades - and she has trained many junior photographers who are now leaders in their field at other newspapers across the state.
 
As the Chief of Staff, it's all about the thrill of the chase - and she's fiercely competitive, especially when it comes to the Newcastle Herald. She demands that the Mercury gets it first and gets its right, and with limited resources, she gives them a run for their money. Her contacts across Maitland are second to none; walk down High Street with Cath and people literally call out to the person the town knows as Mrs Mercury.
 
She doesn't expect anything of her young team of reporters that she doesn't do herself - that includes eating lunch at their desk (and that's on a good day), working six days a week, and thinking journalism 24 hours a day. On a serious note, she has never let a young journo go out on a death knock on their own; she's the one who gets out of the car first, takes that long walk up the front path and knocks on the door.
 
In her spare time she freely imparts her knowledge to the newsroom on World Wars 1 and 2, the 1955 flood, the Australian Labor Party, rugby league and Stevie Nicks. And most importantly, the power and privilege it is to be a journalist.
 
Cath is multi-skilled to within an inch of her life - she gets up at 4.30am to get the Mercury's website up and going for the day, and if a newsagent runs out of papers she's the first person to jump in a car and deliver them herself.
 
In an industry bogged down with doom and gloom, Cath refuses to give up. The minute the Maitland Mercury turned 170, Cath said it was all 'crap' and started to plan its 175th. Her love of the Mercury's masthead and passion for journalism is unbridled. She says she has never worked a day in her life - she simply gets out of bed and gets to do what she loves doing best of all.
 
And so it is with enormous pleasure that we name Cath Bowen of the Maitland Mercury as the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Journalism Award for 2013.

 

    

Thank you to all the entrants, finalists, winners, judges, support staff and sponsors for the event.