HIGHER EDUCATION JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR ANNOUNCED
The ABC’s education reporter Conor Duffy has been named this year’s Universities Australia Higher Education Journalist of the Year by an expert panel of judges convened by the National Press Club.
Duffy won for a series of long-form stories that illuminated the impact on universities of both the COVID-19 pandemic and major funding changes to higher education legislation in late 2020.
In a stellar field of senior journalists covering higher education, Conor Duffy’s reports demonstrated authoritative analysis, a strong understanding of detail, and sought out a wide array of voices and perspectives.
The judges said:
“This year’s field for this award was one of the largest and strongest of excellent higher education journalism in memory. It made the task of judging a very challenging one.”
“Conor Duffy’s powerful reporting distilled policy complexity into clarity, highlighted the seismic forces on universities in 2020, and sought out powerful human stories to illustrate the impact of those forces.”
“His series of stories analysed the proposed major legislative changes to university funding, and the human cost of the pandemic amid job losses and deep career uncertainty for researchers starting out in their careers.”
“His compelling body of work this year demonstrated thoroughness, rigour, accuracy, integrity and a strong flair to tell complex policy stories in an accessible way.”
The judges also highly commended the work of two other stellar senior higher education journalists: Sydney Morning Herald Education Editor Jordan Baker and Times Higher Education Asia Pacific Editor John Ross.
“Jordan Baker and John Ross demonstrate exemplary grasp of complex policy detail in higher education, forensic analysis, great storytelling, and the ability to cultivate wide networks to report with richness and insight.”
“Australia is well-served to have many senior and skilled editors and reporters covering this sector which shapes the lives of millions of Australians.”
AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN UNIVERSITY RESEARCH REPORTING ANNOUNCED
The Universities Australia Award for Excellence in University Research Reporting was won by The Conversation’s reporting and multi-media team on its Flora, Fauna, Fire project.
Their reporting powerfully illuminated how Australian university researchers were tracking the devastation of the Black Summer bushfires of 2020 and guiding urgent recovery efforts to save Australia’s unique biodiversity.
Journalists Nicole Hasham, Wes Mountain, Anthea Bastakis, Sunanda Creagh, Ben Clark and Michael Lund’s comprehensive interactive project was ambitious and compelling storytelling.
The judges said:
“In another strong field of entries, The Conversation’s richly-detailed reporting on the work of ecological researchers across the Australian university system to track the impact of the Black Summer bushfires was superb.”
“It comprehensively reported on work from a vast array of researchers, presented findings in compelling graphics and impactful storytelling, and included interactive tools to enable the public to see the magnitude of the threat posed to some unique Australian species as researchers raced the clock to save them.”
“It highlighted the crucial work and expertise of Australia’s university researchers in moments of national crisis and threat, and the value of that knowledge to avert disaster.”
These awards are supported by Universities Australia, in partnership with the National Press Club of Australia. Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said:
“A thriving higher education sector is fundamental to Australia’s economic and social wellbeing.”
“It’s essential that all Australians understand the challenges facing our universities, and vibrant, thorough reporting is vital to community awareness.”
“Universities Australia recognises the highest standards of journalism demonstrated by Connor Duffy and The Conversation’s reporting and multi-media team.”