The Age wins top prize at the Walkley Awards

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have claimed the top prize for excellence in journalism at the prestigious annual Walkley Awards.

The Age’s investigative and world editor Michael Bachelard and SMH photographer Kate Geraghty won the Gold Walkley for Surviving IS: Stories of Mosul, which also took out the prize for feature writing short (under 4000 words).

The Fairfax multimedia team also took out the Walkley for production on the same project.

Photographer Kate Geraghty Photo: James Brickwood

Bachelard and Geraghty travelled to Mosul after it was liberated from Islamic State.

Together, they told the stories of children living in the massive Khazer displaced person’s camp, including that of a young girl who had watched her mother be killed by IS fighters and a primary-school aged boy who had watched his best friend be slaughtered in the schoolyard.

“The ancient city of Mosul’s devastation by Islamic State may feel unthinkably tragic and distant, but Michael Bachelard and Kate Geraghty told visceral, personal stories that helped readers gain insight through a common humanity,” the Walkley Foundation said.

“Visiting hospitals, mass graves, military bases and homes, Bachelard’s stories introduce us to people who are resilient, yet exhausted by the ravages of war. Geraghty’s visuals help immerse readers into the atmosphere of a city and a situation far from our understanding.

“While foreign war can feel and be reported as something ‘other’, Bachelard’s words and Geraghty’s visuals made Mosul’s loss into one we should all grieve.”

Michael Bachelard in front of a burning oil well near Mosul. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Bachelard is now a four-time Walkley Award-winner, including this year’s Gold, after previously winning in 2010 (Business) and 2015 (Print/Text News Report with Armando Cordoba).

Geraghty was also named this year’s Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year, for a body of work that included coverage of the frontlines of Mosul, the war on drugs in the Philippines, the famine crisis in South Sudan, and Australian Vietnam War veterans who have retired to their old battlegrounds.

Elena de Chavez visits the tomb of her son Alvin Ronald de Chavez who was a small time drug dealer shot dead in Manila. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Former Age political editor and veteran journalist Michael Gordon was among the major winners, taking out the award for outstanding contribution to journalism. Gordon retired in June this year after more than 40 years in journalism.

Veteran journalist Michael Gordon observes Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: Andrew Meares

Australia’s leading investigative business journalist and multi-Walkley winner Adele Ferguson has claimed two awards. Ferguson’s expose into the Domino’s pizza chain with Mario Christodoulou won the award for business journalism.

Ferguson also claimed a Walkley for investigative journalism, along with Sarah Danckert and Klaus Toft, for a joint Fairfax Media/ABC investigation into Aveo retirement villages.

The Age crime writer John Silvester was recognised, winning the award for commentary, analysis, opinion and critique for three pieces in his popular Naked City column.

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Newcastle Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy took out the public service journalism gong for her articles into the devastating impact of mesh surgery. Fellow Newcastle journalist Carrie Fellner won an award for coverage of community or regional affairs.

Age editor Alex Lavelle congratulated all the winners and said “these awards are recognition for our commitment to important agenda-setting journalism”.

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