Friday, 28 November 2008

Pathetic pettiness over Walkleys

Newspapers blowing their own trumpet is one thing. Excluding the name of journalists who work for rivals from coverage of the Walkley awards for journalism is another altogether.

This morning the Australian press displayed all the pathetic pettiness which helps bring the whole profession in to such disrepute.

In The Australian they headlined The Australian scoops three Walkley Awards then almost grudgingly acknowledged that the now defunct 9 Network Sunday program picked up the top gong - The Gold Walkley - and mentioned winners from 7 News, Reuters, the stablemate the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and their own company's Australian boss. The only reference to a Fairfax winner was to note the Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism going to the late Pamela Bone for her support of humanitarian causes and commitment to the advancement of female leaders in the media. In a display of churlishness there was no reference to the fact that Ms Bone used to write for the Melbourne Age.

Winners from the ABC and SBS got not even an oblique mention.

Coverage in the Melbourne Age was even less gracious. Past and present journalists of The Age were last night honoured at the annual Walkley Awards, it said and listed its own winners. The Sunday program got a gong but no one else qualified - not even the Walkleys won by sister Fairfax publications the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review and the Illawarra Mercury.

For the SMH it was Super 12: Fairfax journos shine - a story which, fair enough, featured its own six winners but did not list the other six from its stablemates with the exception of a reference to Ms Bone. The award to the journalist from the Fairfax owned Illawarra Mercury was not even counted in reaching the total of 12 mentioned as shining.

The ABC followed the lead of the daily papers in slanting its Walkley story towards some self congratulation. "The ABC picked up nine Walkley Awards for journalism at a ceremony in Melbourne last night," it trumpets on its website this morning. "The broadcaster made it a clean sweep in the radio category, with awards for news, current affairs and feature reports."

It might have added that the feat illustrates the paucity of fair dinkum news reporting and current affairs programming on commercial radio!

Sunday got a mention for its Gold as did Bone, Hartigan and Don Watson, a speech writer for former prime minister Paul Keating who won the Walkley for best non-fiction book for American Journeys. Reuters photographer David Gray was acknowlledged as press photograpoher of the year and writing about Aborigines clearly qualifies non-ABC journalists for a mention. The Australian newspaper's Tony Koch and Padraic Murphy were noted for their story about a group of men who escaped a jail term after pleading guilty to raping a 10-year-old girl at Aurukun in north Queensland. Other print journalists were not so lucky and nor was 7 News for wi nning Television News Reporting.

For the record, you will find a full list of the Walkley winners by organisation on my website here.
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