Australia — The Australians Gary Hughes has been named the Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year at the 2009 Quill Awards held last night, adding another accolade to the Gold Walkley he won last year.
Hughes won the coveted prize for an article written on a borrowed laptop after his home in St. Andrews was destroyed in the Black Saturday fires. The judging panel described his account as truly memorable, saying that it had put smoke in the nostrils of readers and weight in their hearts.
Accepting the award, Hughes said:
As a journalist I simply told the story the only way I knew how.”
It was both the easiest and hardest story I have ever written. I still cant say to this day whether it is good or bad: I havent been able to re-read it.
The bushfires were an ever-present theme throughout the awards. Reporters from the ABC took several awards for its cross-media coverage of the fires, including Jane Cowan (Best Radio News Report), Drew Ambrose (Young Journalist of the Year) and a team of reporters from Four Corners (Best TV Current Affairs Report).
Among print publications, The Australian collected five awards, including the Gold Quill to Cameron Stewart for his report on the anti-terrorism raids in August last year. At the time, police were angered that early copies of The Australian available before the raid contained Stewarts report, saying that it could potentially have harmed the operation. The leak is currently under investigation by Victorias Office of Police Integrity (OPI).
The Age won six awards, the most of any organisation. The journalists Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie, along with The Canberra Times Philip Dorling, won the Best News Report in Print award for their revelations about the relationship between the former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon and the Chinese businesswoman Helen Liu.
The Quill Awards have been run annually by the Melbourne Press Club since 1995.