• Kennedy Prize for Australian Journalist of the Year: Nine’s Nick McKenzie
Nine’s 60 Minutes and The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald senior journalist Nick McKenzie was crowned the winner of the 2020 TPG Telecom $25,000 Kennedy Prize for Journalist of the Year at a gala ceremony at the 9th annual NRMA Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism.
McKenzie’s portfolio of three major unrelated stories – The Faceless Man, Crown Unmasked and One Last Mission – set him apart from a crack field in one of the biggest news years in history.
Against fierce competition from outstanding reporting and coverage of the frightening bushfires which ravaged Australia and the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic, McKenzie produced epic stories unrelated to these crises.
In his story The Faceless Man, one year in the making and produced for 60 Minutes and The Age newspaper, McKenzie presented explosive evidence of shocking misconduct in the Victorian branch of the Labor Party as the dark underbelly of Australian political power was exposed.
Crown Unmasked, which McKenzie produced for 60 Minutes, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age with Grace Tobin and Nick Toscano, took out two major awards – Outstanding TV Current Affairs and Outstanding Finance Reporting.
One Last Mission, which was a finalist in the Jim Oram Outstanding Feature Writing Award, was the product of two epic journeys involving former SAS medic, Dusty Miller, who struggled for almost a decade to try and right a war crime in Afghanistan in 2012 and then, finally, the medic’s mission of redemption back in Afghanistan while battling the sad deterioration of his mental health.
Nine was a major player amongst the winners, its news and current affairs programs and its metropolitan newspaper mastheads, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, collecting a total 16 individual award categories.
News Corp also featured strongly, its newspapers, Sky News, photographers and online news taking out nine awards as well as the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award presented to former News Ltd chairman and chief executive officer, John Hartigan.
News’ The Daily Telegraph took out the Rod Allen Award for Racing Writer of the Year, Outstanding Sports Photo and the Peter Ruehl Award for Outstanding Columnist; news.com.au won Outstanding Online Video; The Weekend Australian won the Outstanding Travel Writing Award, The Australian the Outstanding Consumer Affairs Reporting Award and the Jim Oram Award for Outstanding Feature Writing through four time-winner Trent Dalton while News’ Hobart Mercury newspaper won the Vince O’Farrell Award for Outstanding Illustration.
Sky News came out in front in the hard-fought Harry Potter Award for Outstanding TV News Reporting through the work of Kieran Gilbert and Andrew Clennell.
For Nine, Simon Bouda took out the Les Kennedy Award for Outstanding Crime Reporting with his A Current Affair entry, Operation Pinnacle; The Sydney Morning Herald’s Nick Moir won the coveted Outstanding News Photo Award while The Australian Financial Review’s James Brickwood collected the Outstanding Portrait Award. Dallas Kilponen’s freelance photo which appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald was voted the Power of the Lens Peoples’ Choice winner.
Nine’s swag also included 9 News’ Neil Breen taking out Outstanding Sport Reporting; A Current Affair’s Lauren Golman collecting the $5,000 Young Journalist of the Year Award; A Current Affair winning the Mike Willesee Award for Nightly TV Current Affairs; The Sydney Morning Herald taking the gong for Outstanding Court Reporting, Outstanding Reporting on the Environment and Outstanding Investigative Reporting, 9 news.com.au winning Outstanding Online News Breaking while 9 News’ Chris O’Keefe won the prestigious Outstanding Political Reporting Award.
9 News’ senior journalist Damian Ryan was voted recipient of the prestigious Cliff Neville Award for Outstanding Team Player.
Seven News’ Paul Walker won the hotly-contested Gary Ticehurst Award for Outstanding TV News Camera Coverage while the inaugural Tom Krause Award for Outstanding Foreign Correspondent went to 7News’ Ashlee Mullany, voted on top from a crack field this year.
The ABC took out three major awards, the Paul Lockyer Award for Outstanding Regional Broadcast Reporting (Background Briefing and Landline), the Sean Flannery Award for Outstanding Radio Journalism (ABC Audio Current Affairs) while the Rebecca Wilson Award for Scoop of the Year went to Four Corners’ Mark Willacy.
And in breakthrough wins, 10 News First Person’s Kimberley Pratt and Stephanie Coombes took out the popular Outstanding Podcast Award from a super field while the southern NSW media organisation, Wilkie Watson Publications, won the coveted Chris Watson Award for Outstanding Regional Newspaper Reporting for The Tumut and Adelong Times and Tumbarumba Times’ excellent coverage of the recent bushfires which ravaged the area.
NITV’s Living Black was voted on top in the John Newfong Award for Outstanding Indigenous Affairs Reporting.
Kennedy Foundation chairman Rocco Fazzari said more than 100 nominees from a near-record field of entries were judged in all 35 competitive categories to finally decide winners in the 2020 NRMA Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism.
Fazzari said the deserving winners had come out ahead in an absolutely fiercely competitive news year, which included finalists from interstate and all major metropolitan newspapers and television and radio networks, international journalists and photographers as well as artists and photographers from regional newspapers and radio networks throughout NSW.
“In a bumper news year the standard of submissions was exceptional in every category. As has been the case in the past, it took judges long hours to finally sort out the winners from absolutely talented fields,” Fazzari said.
“From investigative journalism to news breaking, superb feature writing, wonderful pictorial entries and great artwork, a class field emerged to take out the coveted Spirax Trophies.”
Kennedy Awards sponsors
The trustees of the Kennedy Foundation appreciate the continued support of the generous sponsors – NRMA, ACCO Brands, Artline, Stabilo, The ABC, A Current Affair, Nine News, Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, Twitter, The Sydney Morning Herald, TPG Telecom,10 News, Sky News, AGL, Google, Seven News, Castle Rock Global Capital, Hillbrick Bicycles, Australian Turf Club, Salty Dingo, RM Global Asia Pacific, Virgin Airlines, Sally Prosser Voice Coach, CDTL Corporate Accountants.
2020 NRMA Kennedy Awards’ Winners
1 Les Kennedy Award for Outstanding Crime Reporting
Simon Bouda (A Current Affair)
2 The Paul Lockyer Award – Outstanding Regional Broadcast Reporting (sponsor AGL)
Background Briefing and Landline (ABC)
3 The Chris Watson Award – Outstanding Regional Newspaper Reporting (sponsor AGL)
The Tumut and Adelong Times, Tumbarumba Times (Wilkie Watson Publications)
4 The Rod Allen Award – Racing Writer of the Year (sponsor the Australian Turf Club)
Ray Thomas (The Daily Telegraph)
5 Sean Flannery Award – Outstanding Radio Journalism (sponsor Hillbrick Bicycles)
Gavin Coote (ABC Audio Current Affairs)
6 Outstanding Podcast – (sponsor broadcast voice coach Sally Prosser)
Kimberley Pratt, Stephanie Coombes (10 News First Person)
7 Outstanding News Photo (sponsor Salty Dingo)
Nick Moir (The Sydney Morning Herald)
8 Outstanding Portrait (sponsor Salty Dingo)
James Brickwood (The Australian Financial Review)
9 Outstanding Sports Photo (sponsor Salty Dingo)
Phil Hillyard (The Daily Telegraph)
9a Power of the Lens Peoples’ Choice (sponsor Salty Dingo)
Dallas Kilponen (freelance photographer The Sydney Morning Herald)
10 Outstanding Online Video (sponsor Salty Dingo)
Nina Funnell, Lori Youmshajekian (news.com.au)
11 The Cliff Neville Award for Outstanding Team Player
Damian Ryan (9 News)
12 The Peter Frilingos Award for Outstanding Sports Reporting (sponsor Stonemasons and Landscapers)
Neil Breen (9 News)
13 Young Journalist of the Year (sponsor The Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas)
Lauren Golman (A Current Affair)
14 Outstanding Travel Writing (sponsor RM Asia Pacific)
John Borthwick (The Weekend Australian)
15 Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsor The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph)
Daily Telegraph editor Ben English with John Hartigan
16 The John Newfong Award for Outstanding Indigenous Affairs Reporting
Living Black (NITV)
17 The Gary Ticehurst Award for Outstanding TV News Camera Coverage (sponsor Nine News)
Paul Walker (7 News)
18 The Harry Potter Award for Outstanding TV News Reporting (sponsor 10 News First)
Kieran Gilbert and Andrew Clennell (Sky News)
19 Outstanding TV Current Affairs (sponsor A Current Affair)
Nick McKenzie, Grace Tobin, Nick Toscano (60 Minutes)
20 The Mike Willesee Award for Outstanding Nightly TV Current Affairs (sponsor Nine News)
Dimity Clancey, Laura Mangham (A Current Affair)
21 The Peter Ruehl Award for Outstanding Columnist
Louise Roberts (The Daily Telegraph)
22 Outstanding Finance Reporting (sponsor Castle Rock Global Capital)
Nick McKenzie, Grace Tobin, Nick Toscano (60 Minutes, The Age)
23 Outstanding Consumer Affairs Reporting
Natasha Robinson (The Australian)
24 Outstanding Online News Breaking (sponsor Google)
25 Outstanding Court Reporting (sponsor Stabilo)
Michael Ruffles, Michael Evans (The Sydney Morning Herald)
26 Outstanding Reporting on the Environment
Peter Hannam (The Sydney Morning Herald)
27 The Rebecca Wilson Award for Scoop of the Year
Mark Willacy (Four Corners, ABC)
28 Vince O’Farrell Award for Outstanding Illustration (sponsor Artline)
Christopher Downes (The Hobart Mercury)
29 Outstanding Investigative Reporting (sponsor 7News)
Kate McClymont, Jacqueline Maley (The Sydney Morning Herald)
30 The Jim Oram Award for Outstanding Feature Writing (sponsor The Sydney Morning Herald)
Trent Dalton (The Australian)
31 Tom Krause Award for Outstanding Foreign Correspondent (sponsor ABC)
Ashlee Mullany (7News)
32 Outstanding Political Journalism (sponsor Sky News)
Chris O’Keefe (9 News)
33 The Kennedy Prize for Journalist of the Year (sponsor TPG Telecom)
Nick McKenzie (60 Minutes, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald)
All photos: Salty Dingo for Kennedy Awards