There’s gold in them there Bowen Hills!


The nomination process for a large swag of the 2020 Walkley awards for excellence in journalism has been scrapped as “an act of fairness to everyone in the fourth estate striving to be their very best at what they do in our amazing craft”.

The Walkley Foundation announced overnight that all nominations received for the various categories open to the print media – both print specific and over-all – will be discarded for the first time ever and the various Walkley panels will select and judge these sections themselves.

All Walkey entries opened on August 3 and were to have closed on October 15. Other sections such as electronic media awards will go ahead in the traditional way and will still be presented in late November even thought the awards dinner in Tamworth has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

“It has become increasingly clear to the foundation executives over recent months that all of the print and many of the over-all awards are going to be totally dominated by the Brisbane mastheads The Courier-Mail and the Sunday Mail,” a Walkley spokesperson said.

“No-one else is going to get a look-in so we’re just ensuring that by taking decisive action early they will avoid all the disappointment that certain failure brings.

“Put simply, the standard the Courier and Sunday Mails has already achieved in the lead-up to the 31 October election – and what’s expected from them in the looming campaign proper – has all of us at WalkleyHQ thinking about our craft and amazed about the direction it’s headed in.

“We have never before seen a body of work that so exemplifies the state of journalism in Australia at the moment.”

The Bug has heard exclusively that a number of journalists from the Bowen Hills headquarters of News Queensland are already shoo-ins for major award glory, and none less than former Courier-Mail and Sunday Mail editor and now contributor Des Houghton (at far right in image at top).

He is expected to take out both the Gold Walkley based on his win in the short feature writing category (below right) and then the prestigious outstanding contribution to journalism award.

“That final category will be a fitting tribute to a decades-long professional pursuit of, and a clinical excoriation of, just one side of politics and its industrial wing,” one Walkley insider said.

“Our judges knew Des already had the short feature gong in his keeping after his surgical dissection in The Courier-Mail of September 19 of Premier Palaszczuk’s decision to spend $275,000 with consultancy firm KPMG to give advice to her department – already bloated with unknown numbers of PR hacks and hanger-ons – some ideas on post COVID-19 economic recovery and a further, undisclosed amount disgracefully wasted with Ipsos Public Affairs for some other polling.

“Harnessing all his journalistic skills honed over 40 years, Des knew instintively that one or both of those things somehow “suggested” the premier doesn’t always take the advice from her state’s Chief Medical Officer as she’s publicly proclaimed.

“This quantum leap in logic – from suggested to absolutely certain that the Premier is lying to us – allowed Des to blow hard in his intro about the Premier flunking a basic sincerity test and it has amazed all of us at Walkley HQ.

“His dismantling of the ALP’s election hopes with this brilliant piece reminded us very much of his past efforts where he hasn’t held to account LNP governments for over-bloated media hubs, shocking lies told and the wasteful spending of millions, if not billions, by such governments in outsourcing tasks to privateer/profiteer mates for dubious services.”

Tyro Courier-Mail reporter Domanii Cameron, just one of the paper’s state political reporters in this crucial election year, is expected to win the Walkley for coverage of a major news event or issue for the September 18 expose on Ms Palaszczuk’s hypocritical coronavirus test (also pictured at top).

And The Bug understands that the Courier subeditor who came up with the splash head and the “achoo” jockey line for that same story has the best three headlines, caption or hooks Walkley in the bag if he throws another couple together of that quality. Heck, he might even win with just his efforts there!

Courier-Mail editor Chris Jones (pictured at top, left) said he was chuffed with the number of awards heading the way of his journalists, with Steve Wardill, Mathew Killoran, Jessica Marszalek, several other reporters and regular contributor Peter Gleeson also mooted for major award glory for their selfless work dedicated to ensuring Palaszczuk does not win a third term.

“We’re all just trying to be the very, very, best at doing what we’ve been told to do,” he said.