2013 Award Winners

Best Feature 

Sponsored by Redstick Strategic Communications


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)


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


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


$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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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:


– CBH Group

– Victorian Farmers Federation

– Transport Accident Commission

– Telstra

– Dairy Australia

– Redstick Strategic Communications


– Devondale (Murray Goulburn)