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Judge: Shauna Black

A dwindling number of entries in this category is disappointing, with some excellent regional publications – winners and placegetters in previous years - failing to enter this year.

The small number of entries were of a high standard, which is heartening, and it is good to see younger journalists speaking up on behalf of their communities. Particular mention goes to editors at the Yorke Peninsula Country Times, The Bunyip and The Loxton News for their outspokenness and passion – you are an inspiration to your communities and to young journalists everywhere.

One entry was disqualified because it did not include the masthead’s editorials or leaders but rather lead stories; I implore serial offender Plains Producer to address this issue of qualification. A long-standing, quality newspaper of its stature in Country Press needs to get this right and deserves to be considered.

Younger editors should resist the temptation to put their names to their editorials; remember, you speak for the masthead. It might seem old-fashioned but it is a strong tradition maintained by most publications. However, I have not made this a cause for disqualification.

3rd place The Courier the quality of Ian Osterman’s writing is unparalleled and there can be no doubt it creates an impact with his readers. The passion with which he speaks must provoke readers to think deeply about the issues – the Catholic Church’s response to abuse, the Australia Day date debate, and bushfire readiness. He chose to enter three broad-issue editorials this year, commenting on issues of State and national significance. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it was difficult to judge the connection with local community. Increasingly, Mt Barker is an audience with metropolitan concerns and it is good to see a regional editor tackling these.

2nd place The Murray Pioneer Paul Mitchell is unafraid to speak truth to power: rejecting recommendations of an inquiry by the Local Government Association into local government strife in the Riverland; taking the ABC to task over its poor coverage of local politics; and challenging the State Government over speed limits his community finds inappropriate. Paul’s editorials are well-written, informative and entertaining, canvassing a wide variety of issues.

1st place The South Eastern Times - The work of Raquel Mustillo and J.L. “Fred” Smith has effected positive change for their community. A campaign against changes to shop trading hours resulted in those legislative changes being stymied by Parliament. They held their local Member accountable. The campaign to limit mining access to farms also yielded a result when the local State Member voted against the party line to protect farmers’ interests. In both cases, editorials from the South-Eastern Times were quoted in Parliament. The serious issue of no doctor in Millicent over a 56-hour period was a thorough indictment of deliberate State Government decision-making and inaction over a decade.



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Trevor McAuliffe
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