Bet you’ve never seen this before – a Walkley entrant going public sounding off about not being shortlisted for the finals. Well, here at Crikey, that’s exactly what Terry Maher has done and it makes for an interesting read. At the bottom you’ll notice a couple of strongly worded retorts to his claims too.

As editor, I’m a lot more relaxed as our entries, with the exception of Terry’s, were last minute rush jobs. Hillary is clearly our best asset by the length of the straight but we only decided to enter something for her 20 minutes before the deadline so the nomination was a real rush job and ended up in one of the features categories rather than online. Giving an award to someone who can’t identify themselves was also going to be a bit of a challenge in itself.

The Crikey lists were never going to win as it is a bit like calling a telephone book a good novel. And my piece on the John Singleton AGM was okay but was up against many better entries as the business category is tough to win because it is across all mediums. Besides, I’d already won a Walkley for a 16-part AGM series for The Daily Telegraph in 1999 and when people complained that it wasn’t journalism, I argued that as a one-off it was, but any further AGM accounts would be more activism.

That left Terry’s 9-part series on the Melbourne City Council election which was excellent but we didn’t use any of the technologies available online other than publishing words. The SMH’s Olympic website obviously better used the technologies available and the Fairfax Olympics coverage was easily the best in the world so it is not surprising their specialist website got shortlisted.

As Terry acknowledges, Margo Kingston’s webdiary is excellent and we’ve no idea about ABC Online’s “Rogue State” entry but given the general quality of ABC Online, it was probably very good.

Anyway, that’s enough polite stuff from me, over to Terry for some good old fashioned vent-spleening (or should that be spleen-venting?)

— Stephen Mayne

Not happy: Walkley angst from Crikey!

By Terry Maher
Pissed off self-nominated online category entrant

Crikey Media journalists are very happy to strut their stuff and take the good with the bad but bejesus we are pissed off that we didn’t even get a mention in the Walkley online journalism awards last night.

Crikey Media entered four entries in this year’s Walkleys: Hillary Bray’s magnificent “In Burke’s Back Yard”, Terry Maher’s nine-part series on the Melbourne City Council election (a shoe-in, we thought) and two pieces by our editor and publisher, Stephen Mayne “Singo’s AGM” and the “Serious Lists” and the “Non-Serious Lists”.

We nominated ourselves, so we should shut up and ear sour grapes. Bugger that! We were robbed!

For starters, the three judges we thought we were working to: Mark Bruer (strategy director, News Interactive), Sonia Voumard (multimedia content, Austar) and David Salter (print, TV and online journalist) suddenly weren’t the judges because dopey me was looking at last year’s website.

At least one of them was a Crikey subscriber, so we thought we were in like Flynn.

Not so! Osama bin AJA changed the judges this year and brought in three new judges who were not in out pockets. They were: John McDonald (online editor, Herald & Weekly Times), Sybil Nolan (lecturer in the school of applied communications at the RMIT) and, Gina McColl (online editor at BRW). My earlier assumption that this was a last minute switch was wrong so apologies for that. That said, none of these web-meister geeks are real journalists and two work for organisations where their bosses absolutely detest Crikey (HWT editor in chief Peter Blunden and Fairfax Business Publications boss Michael Gill would not be happy if any of their staff gave Crikey a leg up in any way), so we got the bum’s rush and ended-up on the Walkley scrap heap.

These non-journalist piss-ants didn’t read our words (they can’t they only look at pixs and icons that turn-and-turn and then turn inside-out). They are production geeks who only think of page hits and they work in academe, Fairfax and News Ltd.

Guess who are the three finalists for the Walkley online journalism awards? Two work for Fairfax and one works for the ABC.

Crikey Media has no problem with the ABC and Fairfax. We are particularly pleased that Margo Kingston’s “Webdiary” is a finalist on smh.com.au. We think Margo’s interactive website is a real goer and an innovative advancement in new media.

We are less than impressed with the two other finalists: “Stephen Hutcheon, on behalf of the smh.com.au team for the “Sydney Games website” and someone called Michelle Feuerlicht. on behalf of the abc.net.au team for something called “Rogue State”.

Those of us who know about real journalism, think that newspaper and TV websites are noting more than plagiarism and drag energy. Wire service rewrite men and women have much more nouse than these webmeisters who just block, copy and paste other peoples words.

A pox on them, and a pox on the poxy Walkley online judges. What about the real internet new journalism, as typified by Crikey Media (and before it, The Zietgeist Gazette)?

When the Melbourne Press Club held its “Journalism 2001” conference at Colonial Stadium on October 5, the session on online journalism was an absolute farce.

There was no discussion of real online journalism because the academics (sponsors) took the session over to talk about journalism education.

We Crikey hacks from the old school still believe that journalism education begins as a copyboy (or girl) and ends up in a cadetship.

We met an RMIT journalism student before the non-event at Docklands, and when asked why he wanted to be a journalist, he said “so I can travel the world”. He can have my Ansett frequent flyer points!

Not happy, MEAA!

Feedback to [email protected]

Terry Maher a complete goose

Dear Stephen,

I would like to respond to Terry Maher’s criticism of the Walkley Awards and the Alliance with regard to this year’s announcement of Walkley finalists in the online journalism category. Just to set the record straight, our judges were always John McDonald (online editor, Herald & Weekly Times), Sybil Nolan (lecturer in the school of applied communications at the RMIT) and, Gina McColl (online editor at BRW) and not 2000 judges Mark Bruer (strategy director, News Interactive), Sonia Voumard (multimedia content, Austar) and David Salter (print, TV and online journalist), as Terry incorrectly stated.

A few more points should also be made that drive a number of major blows to Terry’s argument. His description of our judges as non-journalists is completely false let alone highly defamatory. All of our judges are respected journalists and chosen through a rigorous selection process that is built upon the premise of peer judging. The point that also should be made is that a Walkley cannot be bought or won via industry connection or association. The prestige of the Walkley Awards is built on a two-tier system with all judging panels balanced across sectors of the industry relevant to the category. Finalists are chosen for journalistic courage and creativity, needless to say also that accuracy and adherance to the AJA Code of Ethics is paramount.

These are all basic facts that Terry should have established. Finally, the reference to Osama Bin AJA is totally inappropriate. It is not funny but totally offensive.

In the interest of good journalism,

Regards

Mark Ryan
Acting Federal Secretary
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance

Sybil Nolan an excellent judge

Dear Stephen,

I can’t let Terry Maher’s comments about the Walkley awards go through to the keeper. First, the people in the MEAA office will tell you that the criteria for selecting judges for the Walkleys has broadened in recent years, to take in people other than those working directly in the industry. And for good reason too; it helps ensure the judging process is less open to intra-media back-biting and back-scratching. That is an issue that I recall you were concerned about in the judging of the Quills earlier this year.

Second, as head of RMIT’s Journalism program, I have to correct Terry Maher’s comments about Sybil Nolan. She is a lecturer in Journalism in the School of Applied Communication at RMIT, and she has worked in the news media for nearly two decades, at various publications including The Australian and at The Age, where she was an editorial executive before coming to RMIT a few years ago. She continues to freelance for various publications as well as editing RMIT Journalism’s ezine, Fifth Estate. In other words, she is both a practitioner and an academic.

Finally, Terry Maher’s claim to be a hack of the old school is embarrassing. On the subject of journalism education he is sadly out of touch. If there is one thing that hacks of the old school pride themselves on it is accuracy. His piece is factually incorrect (on Sybil Nolan and on the judging in general) and is full of literals. That seems to be a bad habit he has picked up from the loathsome “webmeister geeks”.

Yours,
Matthew Ricketson.