Winners revealed: 2023 Rural and Regional Journalism and Photography Awards celebrate media excellence in Geelong

Winners of the 2023 Rural and Regional Journalism and Photography Awards.
The Rural and Regional Journalism and Photography Awards, a prestigious event recognising outstanding contributions to regional journalism and photography, attracted a gathering of 130 guests on Friday night at the iconic Geelong Library & Heritage Centre.
Emceed by ABC Statewide Drive radio host Prue Bentley, the event showcased the talent and dedication within the industry.

This year’s awards received an impressive 360 entries spanning 18 categories, with 65 newsrooms represented across Victoria and Tasmania. It reflected the event’s growing importance in recognising excellence in rural and regional journalism and photography.

Among the notable winners were:

Media Outlet of the Year – sponsored by CBRE: ABC Central Victoria

Hugh Martin, ABC, (middle) accepts the Media Outlet of the Year - sponsored by CBRE Agribusiness - on behalf of ABC Central Victoria, alongside CBRE Agribusiness representatives Alannah Halloran, Matt Childs, James Auty and Shane Mcintyre.
While all the nominees demonstrated outstanding work, it was ABC Central Victoria’s exceptional coverage of the 2022 floods and other events, such as the unexpected removal of graveside memorabilia by a cemetery operator, mobile phone number porting scams, and the challenges faced by the Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre, that distinguished it as the Media Outlet of the Year.

Journalist of the Year – sponsored by the Victorian Farmers Federation: Andrew Thomson, Warrnambool Standard

Andrew Thomson, Warrnambool Standard, won Best News Story – Print – Sponsored by Porter Novelli.
Andrew’s reporting on the Kirkstall double murder/suicide was impeccable. He covered the story in a way only a journalist with strong local knowledge and insight could. Andrew owned this story and, by methodically putting together all its pieces, he gave a masterclass in how to take a story further.

Ray Frawley Young Journalist of the Year – sponsored by TAC: Chelsea Bunting, Geelong Advertiser

Chelsea Bunting, Geelong Advertiser, won Young Journalist of the Year.
Chelsea’s outstanding body of work reflected a razor-sharp news sense, ability to build trust with contacts and thoughtful storytelling. Chelsea’s careful handling of sensitive subjects belies her experience and points to a bright future.

Photographer of the Year sponsored by RACV: Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser

Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser, won Best News Photograph and Photographer of the Year.
Darren has the ability to capture the decisive moment, an essential capability for a good press photographer and has won this major award for a second consecutive year. Darren combines that skill with an artistic eye and his images are both newsworthy and interesting compositions.
The awards not only celebrated excellence in rural and regional journalism and photography, but also highlighted the important role that these professionals play in keeping communities informed and connected.

“These awards attracted entries from 127 journalists and 26 photographers across Victoria and Tasmania, and recognised the hard work and dedication of nominees,” Rural Press Club of Victoria president Bryce Eishold said.

“On behalf of the RPCV, I wholeheartedly congratulate all the winners and finalists for their exceptional contributions to our industry.

“I’d also like to extend the club’s gratitude to our sponsors and judges, along with our members and guests, for making it such a successful event.”

Further Information

Bryce Eishold
0458 588 449
bryce.eishold@stockandland.com.au

Full List of Winners

Media Outlet of the Year – sponsored by CBRE

Winner: ABC Central Victoria
Highly Commended: Loddon Herald
Commended: Shepparton News, ABC Gippsland, ABC Victorian Country Hour

Journalist of the Year – sponsored by the Victorian Farmers Federation

Winner: Andrew Thomson, Warrnambool Standard
Highly Commended: Bec Symons, ABC Gippsland
Commended:

  • Harrison Tippet, Geelong Advertiser/ABC Geelong
  • Tamara McDonald, Geelong Advertiser
  • Jeremy Story Carter, ABC News

Young Journalist of the Year – sponsored by TAC

Winner: Chelsea Bunting, Geelong Advertiser
Highly Commended: Jack Morgan, WIN News
Commended:

  • Rachel Simmons, Stock & Land
  • Caleb Francis, Shepparton News
  • Georgia Lenton-Williams, ABC Gippsland

Photographer of the Year – sponsored by RACV

Winner: Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser
Highly Commended: Kate Healey, The Courier
Commended:

  • Glenn Guy, Hamilton Spectator
  • Anne Richey, Alexandra Standard

Best News Story – Print – sponsored by Porter Novelli

Winner: Andrew Thomson, Warrnambool Standard “The Kirkstall killings”
Highly Commended: Chris Earl, Loddon Herald “Our towns marooned / 24 hours of Bridgey spirit”
Commended:

  • Benjamin Silvester, Warrnambool Standard “Daughter reduced to tears / Why have 200 staff left?”
  • Alexander Blain, Geelong Advertiser “Left in the deep end”
  • Stefan Bradley, Gippsland Times and Maffra Spectator “We won: Gavy looks to future after win”

Best News Story – Radio – sponsored by AUSVEG

Winner: Harrison Tippet, ABC Geelong “Geelong budget black hole / Games concerns”
Highly Commended: Bec Symons, ABC Gippsland “74-year-old dies of a heart attack while waiting for an ultrasound”
Commended:

  • Lexie Jeuniewic, ABC Ballarat “School tackles youth vaping”
  • Gillian Aeria and Alexander Darling, ABC Wimmera “Rural aged care facing closure”
  • Mim Hook and Oliver Lees, ABC Gippsland “The felling of an industry”

Best News Story – Television – sponsored by Nutrien Ag Solutions

Winner: Bec Symons, ABC Gippsland “When Daniel Hayes disappeared from the AFL, he didn’t share his pain – now he is suing his junior coach”
Highly Commended: Sarah Lawrence, ABC Central Victoria “Rochester inundated”
Commended:

  • Mikaela Ortolan, ABC Goulburn Murray “Shepparton floods”
  • Daniel Miles, ABC South West Victoria “Policy change needed to allow solar panels on public housing”
  • Harrison Tippet, ABC Geelong “Regional rental crisis”

Best News Story – Online – sponsored by Currie Communications

Winner: Chris Earl, Loddon Herald “The flood emergency – live updates”
Highly Commended: Shannon Schubert, ABC Central Victoria “Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre closure”
Commended: 

  • Daniel Miles and Fiona Breen, ABC South West Victoria “Hobart farmer accidentally grows restricted pharmaceutical poppies for wedding season”
  • Emma Field, ABC Gippsland “Shocking death of aged-care resident on footpath”
  • Kerrin Thomas and Madeleine Spencer, ABC News “New hospital needed for West Gippsland”

Best Feature Story – Print – sponsored by Dairy Australia

Winner: Max Stainkamph, Shepparton News “The day everything changed: Shepp’s last COVID-free day”
Highly Commended: Jason Gregory, Ag Journal – The Weekly Times “Young blood – Meet the young graduates meeting agriculture’s huge need for professional talent”
Commended:

  • Sue Neales, Ag Journal – The Weekly Times “Fiona Simson; the unlikely national leader who transformed the public face of agriculture”
  • Tony Curran, The Horsham Times “Born under a wandering star”

Best Feature Story – Radio – sponsored by Agriculture Victoria

Winner: Mim Hook, ABC Gippsland “Revered and devoured: Mutton Bird”
Highly Commended: Jeremy Story Carter, ABC News “Final siren sounds on country sporting club”
Commended:

  • Daniel Miles, ABC South West Victoria “Music teachers band together to stop ‘illiterate’ students falling through gaps”
  • Nic Healey, ABC Shepparton “Could human composting be the future of the funeral industry?”
  • Madeleine Spencer, ABC Gippsland “Zac Loves netball, and is on the Australian team, but his training options are limited”

Best Feature Story – Television – sponsored by GMHBA

Winner: Tim Lee, ABC Landline “Satellite Stock Squad”
Highly Commended: Kerrin Thomas, ABC Gippsland “Mr Beaky”
Commended: Rachel Clayton, Charlotte King and Andy Burns, ABC News “Suspected unlicensed dams multiplying across stressed river system reveal holes in Victoria’s water compliance”

  • Jeremy Story Carter, ABC Landline “The fine dining restaurants reshaping country communities”
  • Rachael Lucas, ABC Gippsland “Judy Hall turns 100”

Best Feature Story – Online – sponsored by Marcus Oldham

Winner: Rachael Lucas, ABC Gippsland “Traralgon’s nightlife booms as people seek fun despite cost-of-living pressures”
Highly Commended: Gavin McGrath, ABC Ballarat “Forget me not! Future of WWI Avenues of Honour uncertain as century-old trees approach end of their natural lives”
Commended:

  • Jeremy Story Carter, ABC News “A new flavour”
  • Bec Symons, Charlotte King and Andy Burns, ABC Gippsland “Victorian Liberal Party branch stacking claims”
  • Harrison Tippet, Geelong Advertiser “A voice for Jack”

Best On-Farm Story – sponsored by Coles

Winner: Tim Lee, ABC Landline “Glasshouse growth – A family quest to grow tastier tomatoes”
Highly Commended: Madeleine Stuchbery, The Weekly Times “Glenthompson Pastoral: The Mann family’s productive approach”
Commended:

  • Fiona Sheean, The Weekly Times “Brink to boom time”
  • Warwick Long, ABC Victorian Country Hour “The Pig Hilton”
  • Camille Smith, The Weekly Times “Greener pastures”

Best Agribusiness Story – sponsored by the Australian Seed Potato Industry Certification Authority

Winner: Sue Neales, Ag Journal – The Weekly Times “Harvest Road: a glimpse inside the vast agribusiness empire of Nicola and Andrew Forrest”
Highly Commended: Tim Lee, ABC Landline “Finding flavour”
Commended:

  • Else Kennedy, The Weekly Times “Purple patch”
  • Jeanette Severs, Dairy News Australia “Investing in the future”
  • Emma Oliver, Mansfield Courier “Mansfield brothers on forefront of farm safety”

Best Sports Story – sponsored by VicHealth

Winner: Jeremy Story Carter, ABC News “Death of a footy club”
Highly Commended: Shane Jones, Herald Sun “How the Upper Murray Football League continues to fight through adversity to play”
Commended:

  • Hannah Kennelly, Mansfield Courier “Under fire: Local Olympic shooters battle funding crisis”
  • David Johnston, The Weekly Times “Living legends of country football”
  • Nicholas Duck, The Warragul and Drouin Gazette “Ironman shares inner battle”

Best Photograph – News – sponsored by The Weekly Times

Winner: Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser “Saved from above”
Highly Commended: Brad Fleet, Geelong Advertiser “Arrest”
Commended:

  • Kate Healy, Ballarat Courier “First Flames”
  • Michael Currie, The Geelong Times “Air Show returns to Avalon”
  • Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser “Plucked from the floodwater”

Best Photograph – General Interest – sponsored by the Regional Angel Investor Network

Winner: Zoe Phillips, The Weekly Times “Ticket to ride”
Highly Commended: Brad Fleet, Geelong Advertiser “ANZAC heroes”
Commended:

  • Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser “Elders”
  • Jeremy Story Carter, ABC News “Oyster in hand worth a bird overhead”
  • Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser “You looking at me?”

Best Photograph – Sport – sponsored by the Stock & Land

Winner: Chris Earl, Loddon Herald “Bowlers in final control”
Highly Commended: Adam Trafford, Ballarat Courier “Footy fog”
Commended:

  • Glenn Guy, Hamilton Spectator “High flyer”
  • Zoe Phillips, The Weekly Times “Chukka sucker”
  • Jeanette Severs, Sail World “420 National Championships”