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Celebrating the best in rural journalism after a tough year

The stellar achievements of Australia’s premier rural and regional journalists in a tough year were celebrated last night with the National Rural Press Club’s 2020 Excellence in Rural Journalism Awards.

Held at the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra, a range of awards were presented including the Westpac Best News Story Award, Animal Medicines Australia Best Feature Story Award, CropLife Scoop of the Year Award,  CaseIH Best Photograph of the Year and the NRPC Best New Journalist or Cadet as well as the Overall Winner Award.

NRPC President Lucy Barbour said the award judges had been spoilt for choice, with entrants lodging a range of compelling and competitive articles from across various news channels.

“Our rural and regional journalists have shone in a really tough year, with COVID-19 making it difficult for journalists to get out and do their job,” Ms Barbour said.

“We’ve also seen a number of rural and regional media outlets move to digital-only publication or shut down entirely, depriving people outside cities of the ability to find out what’s going on in their backyard.

“That’s why the NRPC is so pleased to celebrate and promote great achievements in rural and regional journalism with these awards. We congratulate all winners and thank everyone who entered.

“Our Overall Winner Sean Davey was the unanimous choice of our judges for capturing a moment in time that summed up months of horrendous events with his photo of farmer Steve Shipton shooting an injured calf in his paddock after a bushfire in Coolagolite, NSW, on January 1 this year.”

A picture tells a 100 words: Canberra-based freelance photographer Sean Davey, took out Overall Winner and Best Photograph at the NRPC’s 2020 Excellence in Rural Journalism Awards for this confronting image of farmer Steve Shipton shooting an injured calf in his paddock after a bushfire in Coolagolite, NSW, January 1, 2020. Steve lost approximately 50 cows out of a herd of 200 in the fires. 

The Awards recognise journalists across all forms of media who report on agricultural, rural or regional matters connected to the nation’s capital and the capital region including the NSW South Coast, Southern Tablelands and Monaro regions.

Winners: Winner of the Best News Story of the Year, Clare Armstrong of the Daily Telegraph, winner of Scoop of the Year, Rosie Lewis of The Australian and Overall Winner and Best Photograph winner Sean Davey with Senator Bridget McKenzie and opposition agriculture spokesperson Ed Husic at the Club’s 2020 awards event.

2020 NRPC Excellence in Rural Journalism Awards
Winners and Runners-Up

Overall Winner: Photographer Sean Davey for the photo New Year’s Day, a stark and confronting image of a farmer near Cobargo shooting a calf after bushfires tore through the region in late 2019

Westpac Best News Story: Winner – Clare Armstrong, The Daily Telegraph for Farmers left high and dry, the politics of drought, which exposed shortcomings and delays in the Federal Government’s drought funding and response. Runner-up – Natalie Kotsios, The Weekly Times for Banks go for the gun about how the big four banks were taking aim at the firearms sector and highlighting the impact on regional Australia, where farmers rely on guns to manage pests and livestock welfare.

Animal Medicines Australia Best Feature Story: Winner – Clint Jasper, ABC’s National Regional Reporting Team for Scrapping the Murray Darling Basin Plan risks a worse outcome for farmers which untangled the complex web of state and federal legislation which determines how governments allocate and share water. Runner-up – Shalailah Medhora, Triple J’s Hack for The Black Summer bushfires were more than 6 months ago. How are affected communities coping? which brought the important topic of mental health and suicide following the bushfires to a 2-million strong audience.

CropLife Scoop of the Year: Winner – Rosie Lewis, The Australian for Barilaro plot to sabotage Liberal vote, a page-one exclusive which exposed NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro as deliberately undermining his Liberal colleagues by asking voters to preference Labor’s Kirsty McBain over the Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs. Runner-up – Natalie Kotsios and Alexandra Laskie, The Weekly Times for Canberra considers amnesty to offset labour shortage, confirming that for the first time ever an illegal worker amnesty was being considered at the federal government level.

CaseIH Best Photograph of the Year: Winner – Sean Davey for a photograph capturing farmer Steve Shipton shooting an injured calf in his paddock after a bushfire in Coolagolite, NSW, on January 1, 2020. Steve lost approximately 80 cows out of a herd of 200 in the fires. Judges commented that his work “clearly encompasses the devastation and heart-ache that farming communities have had to endure over the past 12 months.”  Runner-up – Alex Ellinghausen.

NRPC Best New Journalist or Cadet: Winner – Andrea Cantle, Bay Post. Andrea joined the Bay Post as a cadet in February 2019, with her first day spent covering a bomb scare which evacuated the CBD and her first year finishing with outstanding coverage of the bushfires which devastated her new home. As a young cadet, Andrea showed huge commitment, professionalism and talent under the most trying and terrifying of circumstances.

Thank you to our 2020 Sponsors 

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