It seems that one of the major criteria for winning a Walkley is already having won one. This year is no different with a list of the usual suspects fronting up for another gong. Ross Coulthart, Paul McGeough and Pamela Williams, who between them have already won over 750 Walkley Awards (well something like that) are included on the shortlist released yesterday.

Alas, you won’t see Crikey’s name anywhere on that list, but you will see lots of other familiar ones, including the phenomenon that is The Age’s scoopmeister, Nick McKenzie, who is up for what seems like his 42nd Walkley.

You’ll also see the names of people who seem to specialise in Walkleys. As one particularly embittered colleague remarked, these people write three or four stories a year and spend the rest of the year photocopying them. Ouch!

So who do we blame for this clear injustice? This undoubted bias towards old style, heritage media? This outrage?

Well not the judges. They seem like a pretty impressive bunch as this list shows.

But the Walkley’s do have a few institutional biases. The first is that pretty well all the entrants are self-nominated.

All the self-effacing, modest people in the media are out of contention to begin with. It’s just as well there are only about seven such people in the entire nation, and they all work in the record library at ABC Classic FM.

As News Limited tends to bleet on about most years, it’s the high brow and broadsheet media that do best while the tabloid types — the ones that break the most stories — that miss out. That’s always going to be an issue when the main criteria is quality. Although, it’s interesting that in the relatively new category of “best scoop” it was the broadsheets that fared well.

In the television categories, it’s the ABC that dominates again, although curiously this year Seven makes a strong claim with five nominations, including the extraordinary inclusion of Today Tonight for a story on street gangs. It’s hard not to do a double-take time when you see Today Tonight’s name alongside programs like Four Corners and Dateline. It makes sense though when you see it’s in a category for camera work.

There is some sour grapes at Crikey — we won’t deny it — having entered in several categories and received absolutely nothing. Dog’s cartoon “First day at school for GFC” was pipped by the likes of that admittedly talented serial short-lister, Peter Nicholson of The Australian.

Bernard Keane will have to struggle through another Walkley-free year after missing out on the shortlist for commentary, edged out, as he surely was, by that reasonably talented writer, Paul McGeough.

Guy Rundle has suffered the ignominy of no nomination at all. His account of the US elections was good enough to win The Age Book of the Year, but he didn’t make the cut for The Walkleys.

Crikey also nominated our new website for the new Best Online category but we were beaten by smh.com.au, Leader Community Newspapers and news.com.au and heraldsun.com.au.

There is another bias, which might be worth thinking about.

The list of judges heavily favours the traditional media. Surely in the all-media categories there is some room for judges from outside the old radio, TV and print media?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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