Seven West Media staff win big at WA Rural Media Awards
A story published in Countryman exposing the exclusion of WA pastoralists from Federal drought funding has scooped two Seven West Media reporters a top gong in this year’s Rural Media Awards.
The piece “Feds asked to ‘please explain’” took out the “best news coverage — print” award in the 2019-20 WA Rural Media Awards last week.
The story was published in the February 20 edition of Countryman, and ran in The Kalgoorlie Miner and The West Australian that same week.
The story, written by The Kalgoorlie Miner deputy editor Tom Zaunmayr and The West Australian agribusiness reporter Jenne Brammer, focused on what the pair said was a Federal Government “snub” of WA pastoralists wanting to access drought funding relief.
It won from 12 entrants.
Zaunmayr said the coverage canvassed pastoralists, local government leaders, lobby groups, State and Federal politicians and showed the benefit of “strong co-operation between local, rural and Statewide media outlets”.
“Between November 2019 and March 2020, The Kalgoorlie Miner, Countryman and The West Australian provided unrivalled coverage on the issue of southern rangelands drought funding and the Federal Government’s eventual drought relief snub, detailing the crippling conditions faced by the region’s pastoralists,” Zaunmayr said.
“While government assistance was flowing for drought-affected areas on the east coast, farmers and pastoralists in the west felt their plight was being ignored by both State and Federal governments.
“Through our reporting across about 30 stories between November and March, Seven West Media was able to bring the dire situation in the southern rangelands to the fore, and shine a light on the lack of funding flowing into these regions.”
The awards were judged by long-standing WA journalist Tiffany Fox and former Farm Weekly editor Travis King, who collectively said Zaunmayr and Brammer had used their contacts to create a story accessible to a broad audience.
“The reporters’ investigation into the funding shortfalls for drought-affected WA demonstrated how good use of contacts and sources can shine a light onto issues that have been overlooked by both State and Federal governments,” they said.
“Their coverage was extensive, well-presented and accessible for a broader metropolitan and regional audience.”
As joint winners, Zaunmayr and Brammer received $250 each for their efforts.
Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days president Nadine McMorran, whose organisation sponsored the awards, congratulated the pair.
“We are very proud to be involved with the high-calibre representation of rural media,” she said.
Two Countryman staff and one Countryman freelancer also received highly commended awards for their photography.
Countryman news editor Cally Dupe was recognised for her image “Make It Rain”, which featured Newdegate farmer Russell Orr and Shire of Lake Grace parks and gardens officer Warren Shalders at the town dam in July 2019.
Countryman livestock reporter Bob Garnant was also congratulated for a clever night-time image of former Fremantle defender Paul Duffield at his family farm.
Countryman freelance writer and photographer Dorothy Henderson also received a highly commended award for her image “The Noble Ones”, captured during Anzac Day commemorations at Esperance and published through online community The Rural Room.
Seven West Media fared well in the awards, with The Kalgoorlie Miner photographer Kelsey Reid winning the best photograph award for her image “Muster Madness”, and South Western Times reporter Shannon Verhagen taking out third place in the same category.
Reid’s image was captured during the Peter Hogg Memorial Arm Wrestle at the 2019 Nullarbor Muster, and showed Kanandah Station brothers Edmund and Nick Forrester battling it out during an iconic arm wrestling championship.
Verhagen’s image showed Bunbury Volunteer Bushfire Brigade lieutenant Nick Mellowship and firefighter Nathan Sharpe standing proud in the midst of a busy summer.
The judges said Reid’s image was captured to have a “comical feel”, showing a “community having a good time with the competitors taking the event seriously”.
“The focus is on the two competing but the expressions of the crowd give the emotion and life to this photograph,” they said.
“The image has a comical feel, even animated.
“The back light in the centre of the images is complemented by the balance of the fill light on the faces of the competitors.
“The eye of the referee focuses the viewers to the centre of the photograph.”
Rural Media Association of WA president Mollie Tracey said the stakes had been high this year, with a near-record number of entrants.
“It is great to see such a high level of participation and fierce competition, and we heartily congratulate the winners and placeholders,” she said.
The awards were judged by Ms Fox, Mr King, former Countryman journalist Jo Fulwood, and other long-standing WA media identities Russell Bishop, David Cussons, Carrie Cox, Catherine Archer and Peter Maloney.
To find out more about the award winners, including who won other categories, visit the Rural Media Association of WA Facebook page.
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