Ben Avery names Journalist of the Year at SA Media Awards

• South Australia Media Awards 2020: Complete winners’ list

Bronze Award Categories: All Media 

Commentary, Analysis, Opinion & Critique supported by MEAA
Jane Howard, Guardian Australia, Kill Your Darlings and Witness, “Body of Work”
Judges Comment: The winner stood out amongst a high calibre of finalists, for the clever and entertaining way she intertwined commentary and opinion, with hard facts. Tackling a range of topical issues from gender equity in the art world to the anti-vax debate, the winning body of work displayed extensive research and a knack for interpreting data in an interesting way. Jane Howard shines an important light on the increasingly neglected field of ‘Arts’ reporting.

Best Rural/Regional Journalist supported by Stories Well Told
Bec Whetham, 7pm news, ABC SA, News Breakfast and ABC Online, “Country convert”
Judges Comment: The judges agreed Bec Whetham was the unanimous winner in this category despite a strong list of entries. Her use of innovative techniques, such as drone footage, compelling subject matter, an engaging camera presence and a disarming sense of humour, helped give her the edge. Her love for rural journalism and the unique characters from South Australia’s country regions shone through, along with a keen instinct for constructing engaging stories under strict deadline pressures.

Best Coverage of Public Service Journalism supported by SACOSS
Fiona Churchman, Travis Saunders, Rachel Fountain, Joel Werner and
Monique Bowley, Audio Studios, ABC Radio, “The Parenting Spectrum”
Judges Comment: Travis and Fiona’s podcast, featuring their son Patch, is raw, deeply personal and incredibly insightful. It conveys feeling and information in equal measure through a medium the judges noted requires creativity and hard work. The topic challenges and changes the way people think about autism, celebrating diversity, ticking all the boxes in this category.

Sports Journalism supported by Media Super
Isadora Bogle, 7pm news, ABC SA and ABC News Online, “Sport in the South East”
Judges Comment: Wonderful writing, research and production, especially noteworthy given the lesser resources available to a solo reporter outside the metropolitan area. Shows real flair and a sense of community, resulting in engaging content of local, state, and national relevance. Strong presentation and delivery, with a gift for extracting the best from the talent.

Best Investigative Journalism supported by Media Super
Casey Briggs and Rebecca Puddy, ABC News, “Combustible cladding fears over major Adelaide buildings”
Judges Comment: The judges were impressed by Casey Briggs’ series of stories tackling the major public safety issue of combustible cladding on some of Adelaide’s most visited and iconic buildings. Months of investigation, including Freedom of Information requests, resulted in engaging, informative and impactful TV news packages that led to the state government having to address a lack of transparency in relation to concerns about the safety of buildings thousands of South Australians use every week.

Best Freelance Contribution supported by MEAA
Royce Kurmelovs, The Saturday Paper and Guardian Australia, “Body of Work”
Judges Comment: This category attracts more entries every year, revealing a depth of talent and diversity of content. This year the winning entry demonstrated qualities that epitomise the ideals of journalism, showing a determined commitment to find the truth, through investigation and sheer hard work-breaking impactful national interest stories on the lives, and well-being of Australians including the environment.

Bronze Award Categories: Radio 
Best Radio News or Current Affairs or Feature Report supported by Media Super
Annie Hastwell, The History Listen, Radio National, ABC, “Waterloo Bay: That word Massacre”
Megan Spencer, Australian War Memorial website, “From A Whisper To A Bang!”
Judges Comment: A powerful piece of important storytelling that explores the past, examines controversy today, and looks to the future. An exceptional piece that is beautifully researched, written and produced, with a sensitive and distressing topic presented in a balanced, insightful and non-judgemental way, painting a ‘picture in sound’ of fracture lines – dividing a community that has attracted attention world-wide. Riveting and courageous reporting. From a whisper to a bang is a beautiful, sometimes confronting journey that blends the personal with the public, a journey that takes the listener on an insightful ride. Exceptional research, writing and production that has been developed with empathy, curiosity, and presented with passion and richness. The audio story draws you into the scene.

Bronze Award Categories: Television 
Best TV/Video News Report supported by MEAA
Mark Mooney, 7 News, “Cancer Bungle”
Judges Comment: Mark’s piece is a heart-wrenching expose, which shines a light on holes in the health system. It is to be applauded that Mark’s enquiries prompted action from the government and that Mark continued to follow Mr Burg’s plight as the situation progressed. Mark’s piece allows us to experience the subtle stoicism of Mr Burg who seems to have a dying wish to take care of his family. It also provides an insight into the devastation felt by his wife, Lynda.

Best TV Current Affairs or Feature supported by MEAA
Angelique Donnellan,30, ABC, “Deadly DIY”
Judges Comment: It should not be underestimated the amount of background work Angelique has put into bringing this story to light. Clearly Angelique has recognised the importance of Mathew Werfel’s plight to Mathew, to his family and to the broader community. Mathew Werfel could be anyone of us. Angelique broke the story by realising the importance of Mr Werfels’ situation by trawling through court lists. Angelique then had the sensitivity required to convince Mr Werfel his story should be told, and the integrity to do the story justice. Mr Werfel and his family made a wise choice in trusting Angelique to tell his story.

TV/Video Camerawork supported by Mosaic Audio Visual
Tony Salvatore, Today Tonight, “Body of Work”
Judges Comment: Breathtaking. If, under normal circumstances a picture tells a thousand words. Tony’s work tells a million.

Bronze Award Categories: Print/Digital 

Print/Text News Report supported by Telstra
Lauren Novak, The Advertiser and, “Ashlee’s Out”
Judges Comment: This category contained some excellent hard-news stories. Some were scoops, some were heart-warming human-interest pieces and some could point to positive outcomes for their audiences. But only a few were the complete package, which made judging quite difficult. Nevertheless, the entries by finalists Michelle Etheridge, Lauren Novak and Tom Richardson illustrate just how important hard-news reporting is in a world where transparency is in limited supply. The winning entry stems from years of work in this field, and from the patient and sensitive development of a relationship with these sources. The stories provide great insights into the damage crime can do, but also the power of forgiveness when there is genuine remorse. Excellent story-telling skills make this compelling reading, confronting the question in every reader’s mind: How could you ever forgive the person responsible for your granddaughter’s death. Especially when that person is your daughter.

Best News or Lifestyle Feature supported by University of South Australia
David Eccles, InDaily, “The Life and Death of Andy MacQueen: child sexual abuse, church cover-ups and the mental health system”
Judges Comment: In a strong field of feature writing on topics ranging from cannabis to kink culture, David Eccles’ entry is a stand-out. The Life and Death of Andy MacQueen: child sexual abuse, church cover-ups and the mental health system is a harrowing, poignant story sensitively told by the reporter who had clearly earned the trust of the family. The reporter displayed writing flair, making strong use of quotes and graphics to advance the storytelling.

Bronze Award Categories: Photography
Best News Photograph or Photographic Series supported by MEAA
Tricia Watkinson, The Advertiser, “Hellfire”
Judges Comment: Tricia’s stunning portrait of Alverna Ballard epitomises a great news image, where the photographer had to react to a situation with technical fluency and emotional maturity in order to capture a fleeting moment. The resulting image is bold and dramatic, while keeping a strong emotional connection between subject and viewer.

Best Sport Photograph or Photographic Series supported by MEAA
William Bailey, Murray Valley Standard website and Facebook, “Eagles Break Drought”
Judges Comment: The judges agreed that the raw emotion conveyed in Eagles Break Drought was a perfect distillation of the grassroots nature of football in regional South Australia and what it meant for these men to finally win. Judges also appreciated the technical skill required to capture such a fleeting moment.

Best Feature Photograph or Photographic Series supported by MEAA
Brad Fleet, The Advertiser, “Leigh Creek”
Judges Comment: Brad’s use of the natural tones and shapes of the Leigh Creek landscape, with the compliment of stunning portrait work, really set his entry apart. The earthy textures and harsh environment were blended beautifully with the warmth of personality and optimism.

Silver Award Categories 

The Max Fatchen Award for Best Young Journalist supported by Department of Human Services
Joshua Boscaini, ABC News – online and television, “China’s reach in South Australia”
Judges Comment: The Max Fatchen Award for the best young journalist is perhaps the most exciting category in the awards, since it shines with vigour and enthusiasm of youth and the promise of our media’s tomorrows. Once again it attracted a wealth of exciting entries confronting the judges with hours of intense deliberation. The standard was wonderful but one young journalist stood out with a demonstration of initiative, courage and tenacity which belied HIS years. He unravelled and doggedly pursued a delicate story which has long needed to be told. We know this young journalist will go far. Congratulations Joshua Boscaini.

Julie Duncan Memorial for Student Journalism supported by University of South Australia
Thomas Kelsall, The University of South Australia
Judges Comment: Thomas is a double-degree student doing journalism and international relations at UniSA. He focuses on reporting welfare policy, environmental politics, foreign policy and international politics. Apart from maintaining a stratospheric Grade Point Average throughout his degree, he has a keen interest in international affairs. He’s provided outstanding leadership as former Editor and current mentor of the university’s On The Record publication.

Best Radio Broadcaster supported by MEAA
Narelle Graham, Petria Ladgrove and Adam Jones, Regional Drive SA and Broken Hill, ABC Radio, “ABC radio Regional Drive SA and Broken Hill”
Judges Comment: Imagination, a well-modulated voice and good diction are the added professional tools to this element of our media awards and they are demonstrated in spades by this year’s winner, who knows not only how to source and research great stories and interesting people, but also weave them into engrossingly and enlightening entertainment.

Best TV Broadcaster (Presenter, Reporter and/or Camera) supported by Media Super
Ben Avery, Nine News, “Body of Work”
Judges Comment: As always a strong field contested the Best Broadcaster category in this year’s awards. The judging panel took the view that the winner was represented by more than one excellent story. Rather he exhibited the ability to adapt to a range of broadcasting styles and formats, all with maturity, authority and compassion.

Best Print Journalist supported by University of South Australia
David Eccles, InDaily, “The Life and Death of Andy MacQueen: Child sexual abuse, church cover-ups and the mental health system”
Judges Comment: Writing a series of articles for InDaily, David Eccles poignantly paid tribute to the life of Adelaide musician Andy MacQueen. MacQueen was one of 30 people sexually abused by Robert Brandenburg. It was a burden the young man carried for 42 years before taking his own life David expertly, but without the hyperbole often injected into works about paedophiles, documented the life and spiral downward of the happy boy who succeeded in his career despite being destroyed within, and ultimately succumbing.

Best Photographer supported by Serafino Wines
Sarah Reed, The Advertiser, “Body of Work”
Judges Comment: The judges noticed a trend towards some softer, feature-type treatment of news shots in this year’s entries, allowing the finalists to experiment with special effects producing spectacular pictures. This was nowhere more evident than in the Catching Fire shot by winner Sarah Reed. Sarah’s entries demonstrate how the art and craft of a news photographer cover a whole-of-life range of topics. From an emotive picture of Eddie Betts, through an empathetic shot of animal carers, to the joyful return of footy to the APY lands, her control of composition and technique is masterful.

Gold Award Categories

Hall of Fame supported by MEAA
Rex Leverington
Citation: Stepping in to the Hall of Fame in 2020 is a familiar name. He was not always in the media. Before he was in the media he was an office boy. We all have to start somewhere. He spent his early working life as a travel consultant for the Orient Steam Navigation Company and even Elder Smith. However, his heart had been elsewhere since he was a lad growing up in Edwardstown. His heart belonged to radio. It was 1957 when he managed to score a job as a junior tech with radio 5KA. He was a callow teenager, Sadly, he says now, he didn’t know a green wire from a red wire and he was quickly sidelined to other duties and then, well back into the workforce. It was a whole decade later when he got his foot in the radio door again. 5DN, bless it, took him on for the princely sum of $48 a week as the midnight to dawn announcer. The rest is fairly colourful history. These were the swinging 60s and the nascent days of talkback radio. Our man had workmates such as Mel Cameron, Vitor Stewart Braham and the great Jeff Medwell. There was a sort of “oops” moment in 1969 when he was sacked. But he shot straight over to 5KA where he made such a success of the graveyard shift that he went on to breakfast and then to the newsroom where he found his true raison d’etre. He wrote and chased up stories before slipping sideways into music PR at WEA records. In 1973 he returned to the newsroom as a journalist and newsreader at 5AD. But, like most journos of the time he simply had to do a London stint, so there he was working as a journalist for LBC and VISNEWS before returning home to the 5AD Broadcasting network. These were halcyon newsroom days. As news editor, he not only ran the newsroom then but when the Tiser and 5AD, who were one business and at the height of their profitable years, bought a helicopter, he was in charge of it. It was a busy working chopper, especially at lunchtimes. In 1983 he popped over to work as news editor of 2UE in Sydney for a year, co-ordinating the LA Games on air. Then it was back to Adelaide where, for the next decade he was one of the most beloved voices ever on the ABC Radio 5AN. He was the second longest serving AN Breakfast presenter and basked in fabulous ratings. He did the name on the night shift. He’s done myriad things and won myriad prizes – Best Current Affairs Program Pater Award for his interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Daniel Award for edited highlights of 5AN’s Formula One coverage in 1987. Among other things, he was responsible for reintroducing live radio to the Adelaide public with audience participation shows out at the ABC and in the Capri Cinema – big crowds and TV coverage. He’s MCed and judged, opened and closed events and, notably he was the man behind the most popular ever Quiz Show on radio, Rex’s Quiz.

Journalist of the Year supported by University of South Australia

Ben Avery
Hardworking … versatile … and humble … just some ways to describe the 2020 South Australian Journalist of the Year. This journalist has the ability to produce high quality coverage of major breaking news events, in physically trying conditions. They have the skill to follow a story patiently, working and researching to shed light on some of the darker South Australian mysteries. This journalist also has the natural ease to talk with people from all walks of life and show us their highs and lows. From live coverage of the Adelaide Hills bushfire disaster… to a revealing cold case murder investigation… to the redemption of the Australian Cricket Team, this journalist is solidifyng a reputation of being determined, compassionate and engaging. Recently given the well-deserved role as a foreign correspondent with Nine News, he’s already been seen running determinedly through the streets of London.

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