Judge: Shauna Black

Some regular entrants were missing from this year’s portfolio but this did not diminish the quality of the entries. It is a pleasure to read all the entries each year, if only to glean an insight into South Australia’s regional communities; to see the issues which plague or unite all country areas and those which are particular.

It is a measure of the importance of country mastheads that they are still the best way to inform communities and that there can be no substitute for the printed article – and its online forms – in maintaining community dialogue, advocating for change and exposing important issues.

There is no doubt many in these small communities must eagerly await each publication and the quality of its editorials. The best editorials spark a two-way dialogue through letters pages, and encourage and embolden communities and individuals to speak out for the greater good.

3rd place The Yorke Peninsula Country Times – Editorial as academic research is an interesting angle. It works well for Nick Perry, who has taken time to research the issue of phrenology and the repatriation of Aboriginal remains which were sold to collectors in the 19th and 20th centuries. The call for councillors to be ungagged is timely and will resonate with readers. Several entries this year included editorials on bushfires but Perry’s takes a novel and readable approach.

2nd place The Bunyip – Finding the sweet spot for a regional community on the fringe of the metropolitan area is not straightforward. Grady Hudd nails it when he exposes the “Rebate for a mate” scandal when Gawler Hospital was overlooked for a government approved MRI licence in favour of a private metropolitan medica clinic. Outstanding. The other submissions – regarding children’s services and domestic violence – keep these issues in the forefront of readers’ minds. A good mix of editorial styles and topics.

1st place The South Eastern Times – Raquel Mustillo and J.L. “Fred” Smith are deeply embedded in their community. In their entries this year they put authorities on notice that they maintain their watchdog brief on health services; take on a neighbouring larger council for its hypocrisy on waste management fees; and campaign successfully to stop increased alcohol licensing fees which could have stripped two small communities of their general store. The writing is concise, courageous and unapologetic in advocating for small communities. Consistently good.

 

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