December 17, 2013
Student reporters have capped off the 40th anniversary of Curtin’s journalism program with a strong showing at the Journalism Education Association of Australia’s Ossie Awards announced recently in Queensland.
Curtin students were recognised with two national awards and a highly commended citation.
The Just Causes documentary series took out the prestigious Dr Charles Stuart Prize for best student publication.
Just Causes focuses on activists and lobbyists and includes profiles on inspirational young Australians.
Awards judge Michelle Etheridge, a news editor at News Limited, said it was clear the students who worked on Just Causes had “dug deep” to get to the bottom of each issue on which they were reporting.
“The result was a series of balanced, well-presented and interesting reports,” she said.
Curtin lecturer Russell Bishop, who oversaw the production of Just Causes, said he was extremely proud of the 15 students who made the series.
“The fact that we received this recognition is really wonderful and the students deserve the kudos because it’s not like it happened by accident,” Mr Bishop said.
“They really had to work hard.
“To make that sort of content over the space of the semester is pretty tough.”
“The students feel a sense of admiration for these young people, for all they have been able to achieve at such a young age,” he said.
“That fosters a greater level of engagement.”
Mr Bishop said the award reflected the amount of support students had received from staff at Curtin’s School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, particularly the Creative Production Support Unit.
Sarah Arrowsmith, one of the two student producers charged with co-ordinating the series, said working on Just Causes had been a highlight of her degree.
“It was very practical and Russell put a lot of trust in us,” Ms Arrowsmith said.
“We put our own personal time into it and I think you can tell because nobody did the bare minimum. Everyone put everything they had into it and they found stories that were very different.”
Another Curtin Journalism student, Jacqueline Byrde, took top prize in her own right in the Best Feature Article (Online) category of the awards for her V8 family tree story.
The award was judged by bluestonemagazine.com.au editor Carol Altmann who said Jacqueline’s story was a “wonderful example of how to grab the reader from the first sentence and not let go until the final word”.
“Her terrific lead/intro set the scene for a very entertaining and informative read that was full of vibrant writing and numerous, highly visual scenes that placed the reader right at the racetrack,” Ms Altmann said.
“Her attention to detail – right down to the weight of the safety gear – and well-chosen quotes from multiple sources – made this a memorable story which is a significant achievement when writing for an online audience.”
Also recognised at the awards was Jessica Ibacache who was highly commended in the Best Photojournalism category for her photo essay Dance as protest.
The award was judged by Brenton Edwards, director of Stories Well Told, who said Ms Ibacache had “approached her protest story with pictures and audio, giving the audience a taste of the sights and sounds of peaceful protests followed by the police moving in”.
“It was very exciting to be highly commended,” Ms Ibacache said.
Curtin lecturer Chris Thomson said the fact Ms Ibacache had been recognised nationally for a photojournalistic piece produced while undertaking a unit in online journalism demonstrated the ability of Curtin students to embrace convergence.
“Driving this point home is that Jacqueline Byrde was also singled out for mention in the awards’ photojournalism category for her online V8 Family Tree story,” Mr Thomson said.
Curtin’s journalism program, the oldest and largest in Western Australia, turned 40 this year. The anniversary was marked by several keynote lectures – including one from former Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes, and another from Curtin Journalism graduate Steve Pennells who in 2012 took out the nation’s top journalism prize.
Photo of Just Causes student journalists Steph Matthews and Nicholas Lovering with Russell Bishop, by Jessica Ibacache.