2015 Finalists & Winners

ALL MEDIA Sports Journalism     

Sponsored by Media Super  


•          Tim Connell, Newcastle Herald, Glory Road: from Palestine to Newcastle, an Asian  Cup journey


•          Josh Callinan, Maitland Mercury, The Cup

•          James Gardiner, Newcastle Herald, Turbulent Times - The exchange that sparked the beginning of the end for Tinkler

•          Nick McGrath, Fairfax Media Ltd, Beating the drum of bush footy

The Judges said:

“This was a masterful piece of writing that balanced many competing elements.
It combined a complex geo-political story with a simple David and Goliath sports yarn and combined person elements from both a Palestinian and Australian perspective.
The result is a rich and colourful sporting journey spiced with just enough context to give it full meaning and importance”.

ALL MEDIA Broadcast Camerawork


•          Kim Honan, ABC Rural, Body of Work


•          Rod Smith, Prime 7 News, Montage of local events

The Judges said:

“Kim’s video journalism work is exemplary and she has captured the strong rural atmosphere using her ability with the camera, mike, editing equipment and commentary to give us the viewers an inside close-up of the day to day experiences of country life. The depth and steadiness of her camera shots, shows off very well her research of the Mid North Coast, Coffs Coast and North Coast regions. Kim, who is a one-person operation has produced well thought out pieces of work. She has shown very well the intensity, passion and togetherness of the residents. The interviews with the people are clear and informative. To sum up Kim has a good understanding of news worthy events and a keen eye to detail. The Judges look forward to seeing further informative stories by Kim in the future”.

ALL MEDIA Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique


•          Michelle Harris, Newcastle Herald, Election Columns


•          Tim Connell, Newcastle Herald, Cricket’s voice stands alone

•          Andrew Pearson, The Daily Advertiser, Wagga, "Personal Perspective | Journo reflects on pain of Hunt family tragedy

The Judges said:

“Whilst the other finalists excelled at some of the criteria, Harris emphatically ticks every box for this category. She writes with clarity and purpose, providing vital context to the political rhetoric of a state election – whether it is explaining how the track record of a Nationals MP contrasted markedly with his campaign promise to stand up to the mining industry, or dismantling Labor’s attempt to paint its sweep of Hunter region seats as a mandate for its rail plan, time and again Harris cuts through the spin”.

ALL MEDIA Feature/Documentary

Sponsored by Media Super


•          William Verity, ABC Radio National, Voice of the voiceless


•          Erin O ‘Dwyer, Fairfax Media, Body of work

•          Rosemarie Milsom, Newcastle Herald, Closing the Gap

The Judges said:

“William's work admirably shows significant advancement of the craft of journalism through the medium of radio.
On top of his technological skills, the key component of his work is the trust he established with his interviewees.
As a result, the talent he gathered were relaxed, meaning their stories were honest, heartfelt and informative.
And we, as listeners, felt we heard the whole story. In turn, meaning we had put our trust in William”.

PRINT/TEXT News Report

Sponsored by Media Super

•          Matthew Kelly, Donna Page, Helen Gregory and Damon Cronshaw, Newcastle Herald, Toxic Truth


•          Cydonee Mardon, Illawarra Mercury, Cops in Crisis

•          Donna Page, Dan Proudman, Newcastle Herald, Hell and High Waters

•          Leah White, Hamish Broome, Luke Mortimer, Alex Easton and Marnie Johnston,  Northern Star, Jackson Byrnes

The Judges said:

“Toxic Truth is a prime example of what journalism stands for. Although the issue was not new, the investigative series sought to examine the issue in depth and bring a greater understanding to the wider community of the extent of this issue and its impacts on the residents affected. The investigative team demonstrated were adept at using different writing styles to convey their message, while the overall presentation of the topic through the use of graphics, research and the use of empathy through one-on-one interviews elevated the overall body of work above those presented by their peers.
The judges found the finalists were the stand-out performers across a diversified field of topics and hoped that all those that entered would continue to strive to educate, entertain and inform their audiences into the future as regional Australia continues to provide compelling material that needs to be told”.

RADIO/AUDIO News and Current Affairs   


•          Aaron Kearney and Ashleigh McIntyre, ABC, Inside Out


•          Emily Laurence, ABC, Psychiatric ward 'electric guitar' murder internal investigation       exposes flaws in NSW mental health care

•          William Verity, ABC Radio, The perils of cosmetic surgery

The Judges said:

“It is clear that Aaron and Ashley invested a lot of time into this thorough and well-researched series. The compelling interviews gave listeners a confronting insight into life in the New South Wales prison system and the challenges prisoners face upon release. The stories were highly newsworthy, of immense public interest and very well produced.
By gaining the trust of their talent, Aaron and Ashley were able to receive intimate and candid responses to their questions. The anonymity of radio indeed made it the perfect medium to achieve such a result.
Congratulations Aaron and Ashley on an interesting, authentic and thought-provoking series”.

Photography in News, Feature or Sport    


•          Adam Hourigan, The Daily Examiner, Work From The Daily Examiner


•          Jonathan Carroll, Fairfax/ The Newcastle Herald, Too much sport is never enough

•          Peter Lorimer, Daily Telegraph, Through the Lorimer Lens

The Judges said:

“Adam Hourigan’s fine images exemplify the concept of a representative collection of work displaying excellence in technique, fresh approach to content, and publication impact. He has provided the judges with an ideal selection that includes sport action, news, feature and both black and white and colour portraits. His photographs display a comprehensive understanding of how to capture or build an image that best communicates the story’s theme. Adam’s imaginative use of light, both ambient and introduced, his control of exposure time and depth of field, his strong clean compositions, and his ability to select the decisive moment of exposure result in impactful images that can lead a story rather than simply illustrate it. The judges unanimously chose Adam’s work above the two very close contenders who most certainly deserve recognition as finalists in this competitive competition”.

TELEVISION/AUDIO-VISUAL News and Current Affairs

Sponsored by Media Super


•          Emily Laurence, ABC, GP skin cancer patients demand compensation, changes to industry regulations


•          Jane Goldsmith, NBN Television, ICAC Hearings: Operation Spicer

•          Jackson Vernon, ABC News, Hunter Floods

The Judges said:

“Emily’s major national scoop drew attention to an important issue affecting many Australians. Using clear and confronting images, she showed the impact of sub-standard plastic surgery on unsuspecting patients. The interviews with victims were interesting, powerful and well utilised.
By exposing under-qualified surgeons, Emily did the public an enormous benefit and even prompted more patients to come forward with complaints. National radio current affairs programs background briefing and PM picked up her story.
Overall, this was a well-researched and powerful piece. Congratulations Emily Laurence – clearly a talented journalist with a bright future”.

ALL MEDIA Investigative Journalism           

Sponsored by The Newcastle Herald


•          Matthew Kelly, Donna Page, Helen Gregory and Damon Cronshaw, Newcastle Herald, Toxic Truth


•          Cydonee Mardon, Illawarra Mercury, Trio exposed - the lies, the cover-up, the truth

•          Donna Page and Michael McGowan, Newcastle Herald, Troubled Waters

The Judges said:

“This was investigative journalism for the new millennium. It was evident a quality team of journalists had a cohesive plan to examine this important issue.
The data was solid and well interpreted. The graphical support gave accessibility to otherwise potentially unfathomable information and emotional connection was built by finding compelling human stories. Importantly, it is hard to imagine how a non-local media outlet could or would attack such a story”.

The Tom Barrass Memorial Award for Regional Journalism        

Sponsored by The Barrass Family


•          Nigel McNay, The Border Mail, Calm before the storm


•          Jo O'Dowd, South Coast Register, Humans of Shoalhaven

The Judges said:

“Any half-decent journalist knows how to hook you in with a great intro. The good journos use their bag of tricks to keep you reading until you hit the end, wanting more. It hard to go past a yarn about a Bali Nine lawyer that begins with the fateful words "she remembers it ending with one loud bang”. And compelling is the only way to describe the tale of an indigenous war veteran who pretended to be Maori because he “wanted the freedom and a particular anonymity that came with not being Aboriginal”.

The PF Adams Young Journalist of the Year

Sponsored by The Newcastle Herald


•          Virginia Tapp, The Courier, Drugs, drought and regional development


•          Michael McGowan, Newcastle Herald, Body of work

•          Brianna Parkins, Illawarra Mercury – Fairfax, Sex and drugs in the South

The Judges said:

Drugs, drought and regional development – good solid reporting of challenges facing her region with the stories not only outlying problems, but outlying potential solutions also.
All of Virginia’s stories are written in a very readable style, which suits both print and online.“

Outstanding Contribution to Journalism

Greg Ray, Newcastle Herald

“Born on August 14, 1962, at Western Suburbs Maternity Hospital, Waratah.

Grew up at Cardiff South and Rankin Park.

Most of his primary schooling at South Wallsend Public, then went to Glendale High School.

Started an economics/law degree at ANU Canberra, but dropped out after two years.

Did various jobs including labouring in heavy industry, bank clerk, dry cleaner, public servant, salesman and telephone canvasser.

Always wanted to be either a journalist or a poet. Poetry wouldn't pay any bills and his many applications for jobs in journalism were turned down.

While living in Canberra he learnt that his home town paper was hiring cadets and he applied for a position at the Newcastle Herald.

Was hired, along with five others, in February 1984. He was hired by editor Brad Pomfrett, to whom he will always be grateful.

Loved the job from day one, but needed the poetic inclination to be knocked out of his writing.

First round was property. After that I did Industrial, Health, Business and filled in on council reporting as required.

At some point - under editor John McCluskey - he was appointed chief-of-staff, during the move to tabloid.

Somebody, probably John Allan or Denis Butler, decided he should write editorials. Early attempts were scrappy until Paul Ramadge gave me the vital advice to treat them like debating speeches.

Always loved writing features and, later, columns. He thanks former acting editor Chris Watson for defying the widespread opinion that he would be unable to write columns.

Over the years the jobs he loved best were Health reporting (for its inexhaustible variety and challenge) and opinion columns.

When writing editorials he always strove to find our paper a voice that stood out from the pack. No slavish kowtowing, no lazy acceptance of the commonly held view. But always something the editor could safely stand beside and own.

For many years, he has been THE voice of the Herald.

It's always nice to win awards, and he's won plenty, but these were never the highlights for Greg.

The highlights were times when he knew he had been some person's last chance to have their voice heard, and when he knew he had not let them down.

What he appreciated most about the Herald job was that it allowed him to have a decent career in his own town. And that the job could change, providing variety and challenge.

His biggest regret is that he has made little progress towards having something done about the neglect of Newcastle by state and federal government, caused by our dreadful obsolete political system.

It is tremendously wrong that resources are so skewed to capital cities in this country.

Greg wishes he could have started a movement in Newcastle that could have united other regions across Australia that are similarly abused”

2015 NSW Regional Journalist of the Year

Sponsored by The Newcastle Herald


Nigel McNay, The Border Mail

The Judges said:

“We live in a world where attention spans are short.

People are busy and long storytelling sometimes struggles to find an audience.

As readers - and judges - Nigel McNay's words captivated and engaged us.

The breadth and depth of the stories that comprised Nigel's entry was impressive.

His articles featured vastly different styles of reporting on very different subjects - from an as-it-happened style of reporting of an inquiry into the deaths of two firefighters, to a touching and sensitive account of the inseparable lives of a local couple.

The fact that the three individual judges praised different articles in their summation was an indication of the overall strength of Nigel's entry.

The common denominator across all his articles was the beautiful and sometimes, moving, wording that encouraged the reader to read to the very last word of every article.

Furthermore, the images served to enhance, and did not distract, from his words.

Overall, the standard of content from the nominees was extremely impressive and served to remind us that there are extremely talented, committed reporters breaking new ground and honing their craft in regional NSW.

Congratulations to all the nominees, finalists and winners of this year's awards”.