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Country Press SA

Excellence in Journalism


Judged by Kym Tilbrook

This is Kym’s 24th straight year of judging the annual Country Press Awards. He is a former senior manager at The Advertiser for 37 years. Kym is the author of five books including Through Our Eyes, the history of the Country Press Association of South Australia. He was also involved late last year on the launch of a book about his great, great grandfather Henry Hammond Tilbrook who founded the Northern Argus at Clare in 1869.

It was good to see an increase in entries in Excellence in Journalism this year. There were 14 entries – up from nine in 2021 and nine in 2020. Like last year, the standard of entries was high, with journalists showcasing their craft in investigative reporting and day to day reporting.

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.”

Issues tackled and put under the spotlight included domestic violence, flooding, cost-of-living, anti-social behaviour, local government misconduct and community radio.

Picking a winner was not easy. There was some excellent journalism and, like last year, there could have been more than one winner…however, I could only pick one.

First place: Gabrielle Hall of the Plains Producer for her reporting over several months on an investigation by the Ombudsman into the behaviour of the Northern Areas Council Chief Executive Officer Colin Byles.

As she reported the story, she made good use of contacts and had five Page 1 leads. The issue of misconduct split the Council and became a divisive matter in the community. The divisiveness continued even after the Council sacked Mr Byles.

Gabrielle is to be congratulated for providing balanced reporting by giving all sides the chance to put their case.

It was excellent reporting, hard-hitting and well-researched.

Second Bryan Littlely, The Fleurieu Sun. Bryan’s extensive media experience as a senior reporter and editor came to the fore as he covered the devastating flooding at Middleton on November 12.

He was on the scene quickly as the full impact of the flooding came to light. His series of stories covered the emotional toll, financial losses, heroics, facts and figures of what was an unprecedented storm event.

Bryan’s reports were well-crafted and kept his community informed as the massive clean-up began.

Third Josh Brine, The Murray Pioneer. Josh reported on the problem of anti-social behaviour in the CBD of Berri – an issue that has bubbled away under the surface for years.

He tackled what is a very sensitive issue, particularly as it involved mostly the local indigenous community. Josh began reporting the issue in May and, eventually, in August a motion without notice was passed by Council to install CCTV along the CBD.

Josh’s work was of a high standard and well-researched. It certainly met the criteria for the award of delving into an issue in the community.

Because of the calibre of the entries, I also gave two honourable mentions.

Honourable mentions:

Joseph Moore of The Courier for his series on how the national housing and cost of living crisis has impacted the Adelaide Hills region. The series was well-written and it was obvious Joseph had spent a lot of time researching the issue.

Ellouise Crawford of The Bunyip for her report on domestic violence. She said in her entry that the article for which she interviewed a domestic violence victim was not about shocking readers but about offering learning through lived experiences. She also noted: “It was so readers could empathise with someone who has suffered because of domestic violence, so they could understand that it happens in our community and it is not always as obvious as yelling and bruises.”

Ellouise’s article was powerful and will help to raise awareness of the issue.


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