The 66th Walkley Award winners announced

The winners of Australian journalism’s highest honours, the Walkley Awards, were announced tonight in Sydney. The 66th Walkley Awards for ‘Excellence in Journalism,’ were presented in 30 categories.

The Walkley Foundation’s chief executive, Shona Martyn, said: “The Walkley Awards are, without doubt, the highlight of the year for Australian journalists. After COVID-19 forced a virtual ceremony in 2020 and the postponement of the presentation of the 2021 awards, it is brilliant that we have finally been able to celebrate these achievements in person. Hearty congratulations to all the 2021 winners and finalists.”

The award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Journalism,’ went to one of Australia’s most recognisable journalists and interviewers, George Negus. Known for his charisma, his peerless and fearless approach, and his signature moustache, Negus has reported through decades of technological, political and social change for news organisations including, ABC, SBS, Nine, Ten, The Australian and The Australian Financial Review.

“I had admired George Negus as an insightful, determined, clever and witty journalist before it was my privilege to become his book publisher in 2001,” said Martyn, a former publishing director of Harper Collins Australia.

“As a journalist and writer, Negus has been able to distill the most complicated issues into the equivalent of a fireside chat. The sales of his books, which became bestsellers, prompted the adoration of the crowds who came to see him at writers’ festivals and in bookshops. What a legend. And what a contribution to Australian journalism,” Martyn said.

Samantha Maiden took home the Gold Walkley, Australian journalism’s highest honour, for her reporting for on “Open secret: The Brittany Higgins story”.

The judges said: “Samantha Maiden broke the story of Brittany Higgins’ allegation of sexual assault in Parliament House and pursued it fiercely for weeks. Her powerful reporting revealed significant new angles that built a disturbing picture of the mistreatment of women in Australian politics and fuelled a national discussion about gender relations that dominated public affairs in 2021.”

Alex Coppel was named the Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year for a body of work spanning sport, breaking news, features and daily life, all loosely linked by the shadow that the COVID-19 pandemic cast over world events. Kate Holden’s The Winter Road (Black Inc.) won the Walkley Book Award. The Walkley Documentary Award went to Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra, from Ivan O’Mahoney, Wayne Blair and Nel Minchin for In Films and ABC.

In July last year, Louisa Graham stepped down as chief executive of the Walkley Foundation, with plans to find a new chief executive still under way. While Lenore Taylor has stepped down as chair of the Walkley Awards Judging Board, Michael Brissenden has stepped into the role.

Brissenden praised the range and depth of this year’s winning entries, which must have been published, broadcast or televised in Australia in the 12 months from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021.

“This year, the judges had a difficult job picking winners among so many high quality entries across the 30 award categories that covered an incredibly broad range of subjects; from COVID-19 to the war in Afghanistan, mental health, underprivileged Australians, sexual harassment, racism and the Tokyo Olympics. The winning entries showcase the pinnacle of Australian journalism, long-form writing and photojournalism,” he said.

Winners of the Walkley Awards were selected by the Walkley Judging Board in October, after first round peer-judging in September.


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