Nine reporter wins top prize at Kennedy journalism awards

Nine News reporter Chris O’Keefe won the 2017 Journalist of the Year at the Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism on Friday night, beating previous winners Adele Ferguson of Fairfax and the ABC’s Caro Meldrum-Hanna.

The awards, named after crime reporter Les Kennedy and set up to recognise the best journalism in New South Wales, were held at Sydney Royal Randwick Racecourse.

Nine News’ Chris O’Keefe

O’Keefe is the first commercial television journalist to win the award in its six years and also took out the Harry Potter Award for Outstanding Television News Reporting, Scoop of the Year and Outstanding Political Journalism awards.

Also among Nine’s winners were cinematographer Adam Bovino, who took out the Gary Ticehurst Award for Outstanding TV News Camera Coverage and senior journalist Emily McPherson who won the Outstanding Online News Breaking category.

NITV and BuzzFeed News won their first Kennedy awards with with Allan Clarke winning the Outstanding Crime Reporting category while industry veteran Ita Buttrose was presented with the 2017 Kennedy Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement.

Seven’s Michael Usher, who was also the master of ceremonies for the evening, won the Outstanding TV Current Affairs prize, while 7 News Sydney’s Shaun Besgrove was awarded the Cliff Neville Award for Outstanding Team Player.

Lucy Langtry of Prime7 Local News and cameraman Rod Smith won the Paul Lockyer Award for Outstanding Regional Broadcast Journalism for their coverage of the devastating Northern Rivers floods.

Of the other media organisations, News Corp journalists and photographers took out 10 awards, Fairfax seven and the ABC five.

Kennedy Foundation chairman Simon Dulhunty congratulated all nominees for setting exceptionally high standards with their raft of entries.

“In a huge news year the standard of submissions is really exceptional through the pictorial and print categories to the digital, radio and broadcast awards,” Mr Dulhunty said.

“From investigative journalism to news breaking, classic feature writing and incredible pictorial entries, class entries emerged to contest the coveted Spirax Trophies

“These awards have grown beyond a tribute to a very special journalist and colleague and friend to be recognized as a unique night, celebrating the best of our professionals and the best of journalism.”

The full list of 2017 Kennedy Award winners announced last night:

2017 Coca-Cola Kennedy Journalist of the Year: Chris O’Keefe (Nine News)

Les Kennedy Award for Outstanding Crime Reporting: Allan Clarke (NITV and BuzzFeed News) 

Paul Lockyer Award for Outstanding Regional Broadcast Reporting: Lucy Langtry, Rod Smith (Prime 7 North Coast)

Chris Watson Award for Outstanding Regional Newspaper Reporting: Jack Morphet (The Daily Advertiser)

Rod Allen Award Racing Writer of the Year: Ray Thomas (The Daily Telegraph)

Outstanding Turf Reporting: Greg Bearup (The Australian)

Sean Flannery Award for Outstanding Radio Reporting: Natalie Peters (2GB)

Outstanding Radio Current Affairs and Audio Blog: “Phoebe’s Fall” (Fairfax Media)

Cliff Neville Award – Team Player: Shaun Besgrove (7 News Sydney)

Peter Frilingos Award – Outstanding Sport Reporting: Chris Barrett, Adam Collins (The Sydney Morning Herald)

2017 Young Journalist of the Year: Jack Morphet (The Daily Advertiser)

2017 Participation Award: Crinkling News

Outstanding Travel Writing: Catherine Marshall (The Weekend Australian)

Lifetime Achievement Award: Ita Buttrose

John Newfong Award – Outstanding Indigenous Affairs Reporting:Caro Meldrum-Hanna, Mary Fallon, Elise Worthington (Four Corners)

Gary Ticehurst Award – Outstanding Television News Camera Coverage: Adam Bovino (Nine News)

Harry Potter Award – Outstanding Television News Reporting: Chris O’Keefe (Nine News)

Outstanding TV Current Affairs: Michael Usher (7 News)

Outstanding Nightly TV Current Affairs: James Thomas, Lesley Robinson (ABC 7.30)

Peter Ruehl Award – Outstanding Columnist: Rick Morton (The Weekend Australian)

Outstanding Finance Reporting: Michael Smith, Angus Grigg, Lisa Murray (The Australian Financial Review)

Outstanding Consumer Affairs Reporting: Sophie Scott, Meredith Griffiths (ABC 7.30)

Outstanding Online News Breaking: Emily McPherson (

Outstanding Court Reporting: Emma Partridge (The Daily Telegraph)

Outstanding Reporting on the Environment: Caro Meldrum-Hanna, Jaya Balendra, Alex McDonald (Four Corners)

The Rebecca Wilson Award – Scoop of the Year: Chris O’Keefe (Nine News)

The Vince O’Farrell Award – Outstanding Illustration: Cathy Wilcox (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Outstanding Investigative Reporting: Caro Meldrum-Hanna, Mary Fallon, Elise Worthington (Four Corners)

Jim Oram Award – Outstanding Features Writing: Stephanie Wood (The Good Weekend)

Outstanding Political Journalist: Chris O’Keefe (Nine News)

Coca-Cola Journalist of the Year: Chris O’Keefe (Nine News)


Outstanding News Photo: Toby Zerna (The Daily Telegraph)

Outstanding Portrait: Phil Hillyard (The Daily Telegraph)

Outstanding Sports Photo: Phil Hillyard (The Daily Telegraph)

Outstanding Online Video: Nathan Edwards, Sarah Blake, Toby Zerna (The Daily Telegraph)

People’s Choice Award: Dylan Robinson (The Daily Telegraph)


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