The Walkley Foundation reviews award categories to focus on expanding journalism skillsets

Walkley Awards categories are to be revamped with the interview, international journalism, artwork and journalism leadership to be cut and others added to recognise journalists’ expanding skillsets, the organisation announced on Friday.

The changes comes as Kate McClymont finishes her three year term as chair of the Walkley Advisory Board, with Angelos Frangopoulos, CEO and managing editor of the Australian News Channel, to take her place.

In a post, The Walkleys committee acknowledged since its last review in 2013, journalists’ skillsets were expanding beyond singular mediums and storytelling was being delivered in different ways.

“Lots of brilliant work is being done digital-first; but a lot of brilliant and even innovative reporting is done in print, on radio or television. We know that complex stories can now have many moving parts, and that there are an army of people working behind the scenes to bring great journalism to life.

“The conundrum at the centre of this review is that journalists’ skillsets are expanding beyond one medium and new ways of storytelling keep popping up, but categories cannot be constantly added to take this into account. The awards cannot become unwieldy and the quality of journalism required to win a Walkley award cannot be diluted.

“Consolidating categories is even harder than cutting down a story that’s over length — you’re always killing someone’s darling. But with industry advice, we’ve refocused, merged and tweaked some categories, and dropped a couple.

“Over six months, Walkleys staff and board members met with key journalists, media organisations and partners in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Award-winning freelance journalist Debra Jopson was engaged to lead the research and draft a report. We surveyed past judges (33 responded), and welcomed working journalists, editor and managers to three lively roundtable discussions,” they said.

The post noted while there were still many media creators across print, radio and TV, a lot of journalists were now working exclusively online.

“The Walkleys have been open to digital entries for years now, but that message doesn’t seem to have registered throughout the industry. So we’re getting our virtual megaphone out — and please help us spread the word — that our friends making digital journalism can enter any category in the Walkleys. That includes medium-based categories as well as, of course, the All Media categories.

Other changes include an expansion of the Headline category, renaming it Headline, Caption or Hook, allowing producers and editors to win awards for short form work such as Instagram posts, tweets, and teasers that grab viewers’ attention, the expansion of TV and video categories to Short Current Affairs Features and Long Current Affairs Features, a new Walkley Award for Production, to recognise the people behind the scenes in newsrooms, creating photos and video and user-generated content.

Podcasts can now be entered into radio news and current affairs, the breaking news category has been expanded to Major news, Social Equity has been renamed as Public Service Journalism, and the Nikon Walkley Photo of the Year has changed to a Nikon Prize, administered by the Walkleys.

An Innovation Award will also be introduced, and will include entries such as apps, tools, products and news gathering techniques.


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