Taking place at Crown’s Palladium in Melbourne, this year’s Walkley Awards ceremony went off without a hitch or controversy, except for the poor quality of the online broadcast, which drew online derision. Last year a high-quality stream was brought undone by an unruly crowd, while this year a well-behaved crowd was done a disservice by the low-quality broadcast. Host David Speers fulfilled his role well, ever dapper in some fetching glasses, but the best presenter of the night (judged by someone other than the biased Ms Tips) was Stephen Mayne, who along with Marina Go was one of the most lively presenters of the night. As Mayne and Go entered the stage, footage of Mayne’s 2006 run-in with Glenn Milne was played, and while Go threatened to give him a shove, no one took Mayne off the stage prematurely. The mood was somewhat sombre on the night, with reminders of journalists who lost their lives over the last year. It was also a pessimistic tone that came across from investigative journalists who wondered to Ms Tips if their craft would survive the next 10 years. “We’re fucked,” said one producer.
The Project’s Waleed Aly stole the show though, along with his band Robot Child, who performed Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. Aly’s guitar playing was something to behold, making many in attendance wonder if there was any thing he could not do. If the producers at Channel Ten know what they are doing, Aly’s next blistering editorial will be more shareable if it also features an epic guitar solo.
Many big names were in attendance, with the glamour set to 11 . Ms Tips spotted new media editor of The Australian Darren Davidson, and thought that the nickname Lurch seemed somewhat unfair. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield was noticeably absent, though some pollies did make an appearance. Labor’s Anthony Albanese and Sam Dastyari were in attendance, as was Howard-era Liberal minister Peter Reith — though none of the pollies were seen at the after party in one of Crown’s many bars (seemingly the one furthest away from the original venue). The cover band was playing pub-rock classics, with Ms Tips particularly enjoying Summer of 69. When the cover band finished and the young people’s dance music started, more than a few media identities could be seen busting a move. BuzzFeed‘s Mark di Stefano was one with exceptional skill on the dance floor.
Ms Tips and her minions were charged with one special duty on Walkleys night. Armed with swabs to test for cocaine residue, we searched the male and female bathrooms with care. Alas, the tests showed up negative — budget cuts really are cutting deep.