We have just released our updated contact list of SA Country Press member newspapers.

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Kym Tilbrook is the author of Through Our Eyes, the history of the Country Press Association of South Australia and the history of SA country newspapers. He is a former senior journalist and manager with The Advertiser for 37 years. He is also the author of three best-selling books on bushwalking in South Australia. His fifth book, titled Pastoralism to Tourism, was launched last April by then Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg.

This is his 20th straight year judging the Country Press Awards.

There were 10 entries in this category which gives journalist the opportunity to showcase their investigative and writing skills. Criteria for the award states: “A local news or human-interest story – must be breaking news, delving into an issue in the entrant newspaper’s community.”

As I mentioned last year, quality journalism is a must if papers are to thrive in the digital era. The papers, through excellence in journalism, can provide a great service to the community. Who else is going to hold governments, politicians, councils and rogue businesses to account? Who else is going to report in detail the issue behind the headlines? Who else can dig deep into social issues faced by local communities?

The community needs papers to take up issues and fight on their behalf and that can only be done through hard work and quality journalism. And from this year’s entries it is quite obvious papers are working hard to protect and support their communities.

I continue to be impressed by the standard of entries. Once again, there was some excellent journalism which made it very difficult to pick a winner. In fact, there were three entries which I believed would be worthy winners. But there can only be one winner….

Because of the strength of the entries I gave two honourable mentions:

They were to:

Raquel Mustillo, of The South Eastern Times for her comprehensive coverage of shop trading hours in Millicent. She provided readers with strong reporting of the divisive issue. Her diligent and persistent reporting resulted in SA Best MLC Frank Pangallo holding a Public Forum in Millicent.

It is the second year in a row Raquel has been commended for her reporting.

Emma Clark, of The Leader, for her extensive reporting of the loss of obstetric services at Tanunda Hospital. Her stories kept the local community well informed of every move.

I gave third place to Todd Lewis, of The Border Watch, for his well-researched articles on the uncovering of one of the largest ice distribution networks in the South East. Todd, who was also commended last year for his reporting, took the story beyond the court case and revealed the history of the offenders. His articles became the most viewed page on the paper’s website.

I have taken the unusual step of naming two equal seconds. They are Lisa Pahl, of The Courier, and Stephanie Thompson, of The Loxton News.

Lisa did a fine job of reporting in her expose of “scandalous allegations” against a prominent member of the Hills community. Through diligent cultivation of contacts, Lisa was able to reveal that the general manager of the non-profit community radio Hills Radio was behaving inappropriately towards female volunteers at the station. The paper, through its Editor, Ian Osterman, and Lisa showed great courage in taking on the issue and publishing.

Stephanie, who won Excellence in Journalism last year for her investigation into the ice scourge faced by the local community, once again provided an excellent entry as she tackled the issue of depression and suicide leading up to R U OK Day. Through a series of four articles, Stephanie brought the issue to the fore. Her interview with Suzi, who had recently lost her son to suicide was emotive, confronting and well-crafted.

First place goes to Paul Mitchell, of the Murray Pioneer. Paul, as I have often noted, over a number of years, has been very consistent in his coverage of issues affecting the Riverland community. The community is lucky to have such a talented reporter protecting its back.

In this year’s entry, Paul detailed staffing problems at the Renmark Police Station. Matters came to a head after it took a patrol 16 minutes to attend a stabbing at Renmark High School. Police defended the time taken, but Paul believed that the response time simply did not pass the pub test. By gaining the trust of a police officer, Paul was able to get the background on staffing issues…..and it did not make for good reading for residents of Renmark. His informant revealed that police – based at nearby Berri - were bogged down on domestic violence, drugs and paperwork.

Disturbingly, for the Riverland’s biggest town, the informant revealed that occasionally the town had zero police presence as authorities rolled the dice on policing numbers.

Paul’s reporting resulted in police HQ investigating who leaked information to him. As a result of his work, the Renmark Police Station is now being manned more often.

Paul’s story certainly met all the criteria - “A local news or human-interest story – must be breaking news, delving into an issue in the entrant newspaper’s community.”



Country newspapers will get your message to more people because local people love to read their local paper. In South Australia, 30 newspapers stretching from Ceduna in the west to Mount Gambier in the south, boast a weekly readership of about 400,000. Country Press SA helps advise potential advertisers on specifics relating to a particular member newspaper.


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Trevor McAuliffe
Mobile: 0408 845 104

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