Crikey journalists have dominated the nominations for this year’s Walkley Awards …

Well, no, we haven’t actually. But we were mightily chuffed last night to learn our cartoonist-at-large and self-proclaimed national treasure First Dog on the Moon is up for a gong. Dog — in the running for this August effort — will duke it out for the best cartoon award with The Age‘s Judy Horacek and the Herald Sun‘s Mark Knight. Sydney-based sketchers, we’re unreliably informed, are spewing about the fact they’ve been upstaged by their comrades south of the border.

The consensus among those who gathered in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to hear the nominees announced last night was that the events were a vast improvement on last year’s poorly-attended soirees. A koala stamp to whoever decided to shift the event from a Monday to a Thursday.

The Age‘s new editor-in-chief Andrew Holden was a notable guest at the Melbourne gathering, with several staffers taking the opportunity to meet him for the first time. Among the 150-odd attendees in Sydney were a bevy of Global Mail scribes and Greg Sheridan’s bete noir Eric Campbell.

Watching how media outlets cover their own Walkley performance — while downplaying or ignoring that of their rivals — is a long-time guilty pleasure here at Crikey HQ. Michael Stutchbury’s Australian Financial Review — not content with a page-two piece on its online renaissance — blew its trumpet on page four. The Australian raised a toast to itself with “Thomas leads The Oz‘s Walkley charge”, focusing on the two nominations for Hedley Thomas.

Fairfax flips the bird to News by noting its reporters have “dominated nominations in print and online categories”. The ABC notes it has “dominated several categories”.

They’re both telling the truth. MEAA stronghold Fairfax leads the field with 28 nominations — including four for The Age‘s Nick McKenzie and three for SMH veteran (and former busker) Kate McClymont. Aunty — helped, we hope it’s not too churlish to note, by a dearth of competition in the TV and radio doco categories — was close behind with 24. News Limited, which staged its own rebel News Awards last month, scored 19 noms.

Wotif founder Graeme Wood will be pleased to know his now-vertical online venture The Global Mail stood tall with two nominations and a pair of commendations.

Organisation Nominations
Fairfax 28
ABC 24
News Limited 19
SBS 4
Seven Network 3
The West Australian 3
Ten Network 2
The Global Mail 2
Getty Images 2
Crikey 1
Nine Network 1
Quarterly Essay 1
Sky News 1
AAP 1

In a sign the times are most definitely a’changing, Ellen Fanning is in the running for best “newspaper feature writing” for Global Mail piece on the Queensland floods. 7.30 host Leigh Sales looks a good bet in the broadcast interview category for her widely-viewed powwow with Tony Abbott.

The big question, of course, is: who will take out the Gold Walkley? To Crikey‘s eye, it’s an even field compared to recent years. Former Gold Walkley winners Thomas and McClymont are strong contenders, given the political ructions caused by their reporting on Julia Gillard’s past and the Health Services Union. Judges may also reward The Age for its sustained coverage of the Securency scandal.

Or could Sarah Ferguson — who took out Gold last year for her Four Corners live cattle exposé — score an unlikely back-to-back win for her Captain Emad scoop? We’ll find out on November 30, when the awards are handed out at Parliament House in Canberra.

Peter Fray

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