The ASTSS Media Award is an annual award to recognise excellence in journalistic reporting of traumatic events in any media (ie. print, radio, television, online).
This year’s winner is Denise Ryan, journalist and senior education writer at The Age in Melbourne, for her series of features concerning the death of Michael Atakelt in July 2011. The judging panel were impressed by the sensitivity Denise displayed towards the deceased man’s family and friends, always balancing their emotional wellbeing with the need to bring a traumatic story to light. The judges also noted Denise’s courageous performance as a journalist, conducting interviews and collecting first hand information under considerable time pressure and difficult circumstances, and then conveying the story effectively without relying on sensationalism or pity.
ASTSS notes the attention by the team to ensure individuals and communities were approached compassionately, and that their stories were genuinely given voluntarily. Whilst respectful of community sensitivities, the 774 ABC Team provided practical support and links to critical resources. In particular, we note the coverage of reports and the progression of the fire while it occurred. Confirming their outstanding commitment, ABC’s 774 Team provided an exhaustive coverage during the initial stages of the disaster. We believe this continual air coverage informed the Victorian regional community and undoubtedly saved lives.
Her coverage comprised a series of evocative, yet measured items for ABC TV News’ 7pm bulletin on the Black Saturday bushfire disaster and its aftermath. Jane Cowan was the first television journalist to reach Marysville the morning after the fires; she broke the news of the area’s devastation. Highlighted by intuitive interviews, her successive presentations covered the traumatic event with genuine sensitivity, yet maintained critical accuracy. ABC TV bulletins showed the reality of residents’ dilemmas and the tragedy of their loss, yet emphasised local community strengths. Her coverage continued with the work of the Royal Commission and its impact on the devastated community. Click on the links above to watch Jane Cowan's 2009 ASTSS Media Award winning entry - 'Black Saturday Coverage'. Jane Cowan writes in her submission: "I've felt privileged to give voice to those who survived and to perhaps ask questions that those who perished cannot".
Patrick Emmett's story is about three sisters who endured sexual abuse by their father and others throughout their childhood years. This was a compelling story, the subject was treated sensitively while maintaining the impact of the insidious nature of sexual abuse occurring in a family environment.
The father was convicted, Patrick Emmett was introduced to the three sisters at the time of the trial.
"Over a period of nine months I spoke to all the sisters and their mother and kept in close contact throughout their legal process. It was a very difficult and emotional journey, I developed a close relationship with all the women and they agreed to do a story when their court case was finalised. The interviews were difficult because of the sensitivity of thematerial, when it went to air the sisters were overwhelmed by how many people contacted them to offer support. They say doing the story was a positive experience for them that has changed their lives. One sister Maryanne has set upa website for sex abuse victims'." Patrick Emmett, 2008
The Award was presented by ASTSS Immediate Past President, Lynda Matthews, Felicity May.
DART Centre for Journalism Representative, Cait McMahon, accepted the Media Award on Mark Forbes' behalf.
Ian Henschke accepted the 2006 ASTSS Media Award at the annual conference of ASTSS and ACPMH Australasian Conference On Traumatic Stress - ACOTS). Mr Henschke was recognised for his report on the memorial of the Port Arthur Massacre, ten years after the event. With twenty years of experience in dealing with victims in the media, by nature Mr Henschke pursues stories with high ethical standards and in turn respects the victims' wishes. His philosophy for being a journalist and reporting about victims and traumatic events is, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". The prized report shown in April of this year highlighted how the traumatic event of the massacre of 35 people affected two families.
ASTSS is proud to present this annual Award to for his work during and after the Iraqi war, particularly for his insightfulness into the terror, trauma and suffering of the Iraqi people.
Not since perhaps World War II, certainly the proxi-war dramas of the Cold War, has the world been in the mess in which it finds itself today. The immediate crisis might be in Iraq, but it extends much further. Like the elements that made up Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm, the human and security crisis in Baghdad pushes up against a crisis for democracy in Washington and London; and all of this unfolds in a greater crisis of terrorism for the whole world, in which smaller nations like Australia have great difficulty finding their feet.