2017 BEST EDITORIAL WRITING

Judge: Shauna Black

While having only nine entries certainly focused the judge’s mind, it is disappointing that none of the Fairfax editors chose to enter since Fairfax’s departure from Country Press SA. These awards are a beacon for regional journalists, to learn and aspire. Country Press SA has provided a valuable framework of education and mentoring for more than a century, has proved a useful political lobby group for the regions and journalism, and shone a light on regional SA in a responsible and collegiate way.

The entries were generally of a high standard this year. Only one failed to comply with the rules: submitting first-person opinion pieces published in the body of the paper, rather than editorials.

A number of young journalists showed they have what it takes to speak out on behalf of their communities. I encourage them to keep working on their craft, while attending to the crucial details of grammar, spelling and use of language. Seek a mentor and read as much as you can.

A newspaper’s editorial is important in influencing public opinion, notifying authorities of concerns, calling leaders to account, and urging action where needed. It is a considerable responsibility and it is heartening to see this responsibility taken seriously in our state’s regional newspapers.

Third place – Sandra Morello, The Border Watch

Sandra speaks strongly on behalf of her community, calling on the State Government to end its cuts to health and legal services.

Ongoing impacts to services and staffing at Mt Gambier Hospital prompted two of the entered  editorials, including a call to government for a full review of Country Health SA. These editorials stand alone for the occasional reader, with excellent history and background to the issues and bringing many sources to the commentary.

Sandra takes up the cause of the most vulnerable as she attacks the cuts to the South East Community Legal Service – with real empathy and understanding of the value of the service.

Second place – Jason Wallace, The Pennant

Jason is a hard-working, diligent editor – evidenced by his grasp of the major issues facing the South-East and his willingness to speak out in voicing the community’s concerns.

In his editorial bemoaning the lack of commitment to the Penola bypass project, he rightly calls out Opposition Leader Steven Marshall and the lack of a Labor or SA Best candidate to bring some heat to the debate.

His editorial about uncertainty surrounding the future of forestry and community alarm about the intentions of new owner OneFortyOne Plantations, provides a balance to the CEO’s assurances.

And while praising the announcement of more residential beds for methamphetamine rehabilitation, he also asks why it has taken so long for the State Government to commit to this service.

First place – Ian Osterman – The Courier

Ian brings his many years of experience, and his thoughtful style, to editorials that will resonate with his discerning audience. While speaking strongly, he does not overplay his hand, instead calling on readers to consider the issues closely.

Operating on the fringe of the metropolitan zone, his job is a little different to most Country Press  editors, as he straddles the divide between regional and city concerns.

His prescient editorial decrying Opposition Leader Steven Marshall’s short-sightedness in immediately declaring he would not work with SA Best, must have resonated with many Courier readers: A mature political commentary.

He sounds an optimistic note as he urges the community to call the Adelaide Hills Council to account over failing to hear its constituents on the matter of ward representation, reminding the Mayor that the next local government elections will put the power back with the people.

And then there is his ANZAC Day offering. While most papers and editors will write an editorial to mark the occasion, few will be as thoughtful and genuine as this one.

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CONTACT DETAILS

 

Trevor McAuliffe
Mobile: 0408 845 104
Email: countrypsa@bigpond.com

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