ABC state political reporter Rhiana Whitson has been named Tasmanian Journalist Of The Year for her news-breaking reporting exposing widespread issues in the state’s health system.
The judges of the 2020 Tasmanian Media Awards said Whitson had been “relentless” in her pursuit of stories, which included reporting on safety standards at Ambulance Tasmania, the troubled revamp of Royal Hobart Hospital and blowouts in elective surgery waiting lists for Tasmanian patients.
“Her reporting sought to put a human face to the toll taken by surgical delays, budget cuts and mismanagement,” they said.
“Using her extensive network of contacts, and a dogged approach to newsgathering, she broke a succession of stories that generated national interest, and helped put health firmly at the top of the local political agenda.”
Long-serving ABC cameraman Peter Curtis was recognised with the Keith Welsh Award For Outstanding Contribution To Journalism.
“Peter Curtis has been one of the ABC and Australia’s most outstanding camera operators, working in Tasmania and around the world – Moscow, the Middle East, Washington included – for the past four decades,” the judges said.
“What makes Peter such a deserving Keith Welsh winner has been his collegiality with all colleagues, assisting journalists and camera operators to improve their craft and careers.”
The ABC’s Mitchell Woolnough won the Best Image category for his overall portfolio of work, with the judges saying: “The quality and techniques demonstrated throughout Mitchell’s work, displays an enormity of creativity in the execution – often during enduring circumstances. The imagery is well captured and the storytelling powerfully illustrated throughout. A worthy winner.”
ABC Hobart’s Alexandra Humphries took out the Science, Technology & Environment category, with the judges unanimous in naming her the winner from a strong field.
“She applied her investigative skills and contacts to obtain much-needed clarification to an FOI document about the Expert Salmon Panel,” they said.
“The inclusion of the voices of experts/scientists in the story was also excellent, and something often missing from news stories about scientific issues. The reporter also raised pertinent issues surrounding the FOI process, pointing to transparency questions which have dogged the government.”