THE Press Walkley have updated their categories following the largest media advisory review in their history.
The Walkley Foundation reinstated the international journalism category and added awards for specialized and explanatory journalism.
The International category was controversially withdrawn six years ago, but has been reinstated allowing the recognition of international reporting primarily produced overseas for Australian audiences.
Michael Brissenden, chairman of the Walkley judging panel, said: “It wasn’t entirely unanimous, but it almost was. Almost every editor and every active journalist, from large organizations to freelancers, wanted to know if we would bring the international award back,” says Brissenden. “There was a huge uproar when it was removed at the last review and the uproar remains . Reporting international news on the ground through Australian eyes is often costly and dangerous work. The jury believes the effort should be upheld and celebrated. The Walkley Award for international journalism is back.”
Two new categories have been introduced: ‘Specialist Reporting and Beats’ and ‘Explanatory Journalism’.
The “Explanatory Journalism” category was established to recognize the reporting of complex topics using any available journalistic medium.
The “Specialist and Beat” reporting category offers reporters covering a specific topic or round, such as science, health, environment, technology, transportation, art, education, or crime, a dedicated awards destination for their work. This new category is not open to specialist fields covered by existing Walkley Award categories such as sports and business.
“Many organizations have views on specific subject areas that they feel should be recognized,” says Brissenden. “This has been discussed and considered for a long time, but the Selection Board has decided not to introduce further subject categories at this time. However, we recognized the need to recognize the work done by journalists who specialize in their field of expertise. They are the mainstay of all media’s newsrooms and the judging panel felt that the previous awards structure did not serve them well.
“One of the most consistent areas of interest in recent years has been that of so-called ‘explainer’ journalism. Almost every organization we spoke to detailed how important this area had become to them and how much they were investing in it. Whether it’s digital, print, television or audio, everyone seems to be preparing explanations.
The current ‘Innovation’ and ‘Production’ categories have been merged into a new category called ‘Innovation Journalism’.
“’Innovation’ in journalism is a broad term. What we do know is that the industry is changing and new ways of storytelling are always evolving,” Brissenden says. “Just a few years ago TikTok was unknown, now it’s a powerful information platform. that data journalism, social media, multimedia and other areas of digital storytelling are being embraced enthusiastically by newsrooms.We think this new category better reflects where the industry is now and is flexible enough to embrace where it could go in the near future.
Due to the rise of podcasting, there will now be two categories: Audio Short (under 20 minutes) and Audio Long (over 20 minutes). Two categories were retired: “Headline, Caption, and Hook” and “Public Service Journalism.”
“The views were taken from different newsrooms, journalists and publishers across the country. We believe the changes made to the categories as a result of this process will ensure that the Walkley Awards continue to champion the best in our journalism and recognize changes in our industry,” said Brissenden.
AS Guardian Australia remarksthe Walkley Foundation is still carrying out a review of the organization’s grievance mechanism after withdrawing an award given to Nine news reporters Peter Fegan and Rebeka Powell for an investigation into former federal politician Andrew Laming after an internal review.
Entries will open on 1 July 2023, with the winners to be announced in Sydney on 23 November 2023.