Walkley Foundation launches first public campaign in 60-year history to ask: ‘What price would you pay’ for quality journalism?

The Walkley Foundation has launched a public campaign for the first time in its 60-year history to ask Australians ‘What price would you pay?’ for quality journalism.

Journalists such as Kate McClymont, Adele Ferguson, Hugh Riminton, Louise Milligan and Hedley Thomas are the faces of the ad, which was created in partnership with the now-defunct Naked Communications on a pro bono basis. More than 15 media outlets also donated media placement for the campaign, which will roll out in the coming weeks across TV, print, online and out of home.

“Putting yourself on the line as a journalist can come at a cost,” Walkley Foundation chief executive Louisa Graham said.

“We’re shining a light on the price that journalists pay to deliver the truth, and asking the public to think about what price they would pay for that truth. Quality journalism isn’t free – it costs a lot to produce – and we want Australians to understand that we all should subscribe, pay or donate to support the fourth estate.”

Multiple journalists speak of what that cost has been for them personally in the two-minute ad.

“I’ve spent 25 years trying to be a faithful servant to truth, and to the public’s right to know. And over the course of my career, that’s come at some cost,” explains Walkley Award-winning journalist and documentary maker Michael Ware.

“I was kidnapped by the Islamic State, and then I was taken behind a building to what was to be the site of my beheading. They’d hastily put a banner on a wall, and they were going to film my execution with the camera that they ripped from my hands.”

Riminton speaks of children’s bodies being thrown in open graves or dying at his feet, Louise Milligan of how she risked going to prison to protect her confidential sources, and Hedley Thomas of how close he and his wife came to death.

“The bullet that went through our bedroom window missed my wife’s head, my head, by just centimetres,” says Hedley Thomas, the journalist behind the Walkley Award-winning podcast The Teacher’s Pet.

The campaign asks Australians to subscribe, support or become a member of Australian media organisations, and encourages donations to the Walkley Public Fund.

The Public Fund supports the Foundation’s scholarship program, funds grants for journalism projects in the public interest, and funds programs to support the next generation of journalists through mentorship programs and training.


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