Monash journalism students set benchmark, winning six Ossie Awards

Dr Deb Anderson, Associate Professor Margaret Simons and Associate Professor Mia Lindgren celebrate at the Ossie Awards in Hobart.

Monash University students have set the benchmark in national journalism awards after winning six categories and four high commendations in the 2018 Ossie Awards.

Norwegian international student Andrea Thiis-Evensen won two Ossies in audio and video storytelling, highlighting her depth of talent across two broadcast fields. Her Monash colleague, Ezra Holt, was a joint winner in the video category (under two minutes).

Other major award-winners include Angus Smith (best text-based story over 740 words, postgraduate), Amber Schultz (Our Watch – violence against women, postgraduate), Sybilla Gross and Suryan Zaki (investigative journalism – all media) and Daria Impiombato (media ethics essay, postgraduate).

Undergraduate journalism student Selby Stewart was high commended for the Australian Press Council Prize for Journalism Student of the Year.

Jessica Woolley scored two high commendations for innovation and Our Watch, which involves the reporting of violence against women, while Edward Wong was highly commended for photojournalism.

The 2017/2018 cohort marks the strongest performance of Monash journalism students in the annual awards, which were presented in Hobart last night.

The Ossies, organised by the Journalism Research and Education Association of Australia (JERAA), are judged by leading Australian journalists.

MFJ Associate Professor Mia Lindgren said Monash journalism students had embraced the challenges of outstanding storytelling and were recognised deservedly at the Ossie Awards.

“Our student reporters are inspired by staff and student editors who drive a culture of excellent storytelling for Mojo News, our digital platform,” Associate Professor Lindgren said.

“We are so proud of our students, who worked together to write compelling stories and produce great audio and video with enthusiasm and creativity.”

Ms Thiis-Evensen, who was overwhelmed to win two Ossies, said she wanted to thank her teachers who taught her a range of journalism skills.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of so many people. I have been so lucky being a part of Mojo News, which is the reason why I have grown as a journalist,” Ms Thiis-Evensen said.

“I wouldn’t have done any of this without the help of so many incredible journalism teachers, particularly Heather Jarvis, Nick Parkin and Corinna Hente, who have taught me how to write, how to make videos and how to produce radio. I owe them all so much.”

2018 Ossie Award winners and high commendations

Best text-based story by a Postgraduate Student - over 750 words ($200)

Judge: Belinda Seeney, News Corp Australia

Winner - Angus Smith, Monash University. "Eight Years On: The Syrian war and its child refugees."

Angus produced a sophisticated, insightful and accessible snapshot into a complex and ongoing issue. He employed sensitivity while telling a few of the human stories plucked from the crisis to deliver an emotional punch while his careful research and astute observations lent the feature authority and gravitas.

Best audio story by an Undergraduate or Postgraduate Student – 2 minutes or less ($200)

Judge: Lara Webster, ABC Radio

Winner - Andrea Thiis-Evensen, Monash University. “Memorial service for slain teenage Liep Gony.”

This radio package told the listener everything they needed to know in two minutes. What is more though, the mix of atmos and the short but emotive grabs really did convey the emotion and grief the family still held onto. Overall, it was a well-developed, respectful, succinct package that included a range of voices, emotion and significant details.

Best video story by an Undergraduate or Postgraduate Student – 2 minutes or less ($200)

Judge: Katie Toney, Seven News

Winner - Andrea Thiis-Evensen and Ezra Holt, Monash University. “Firefighters climb hard for charity.”

This story had all the elements of an excellent video news story. The go pro vision gave insight into the event and the interviews were emotional and told the story well. The story was put together with sensitivity and written clearly. The audio was good quality as was the video aspect. Well done.

Best innovation in journalism

Winner: Immerse – UniSA.

Judge: Nick Evershed, The Guardian

There were a lot of great entries in the Innovation category this year. Immerse stood out not because of the ambitious use of VR in storytelling, but because it was clear students had made an effort to find stories that were particularly well-suited to a new, experimental medium. The feature on the artist was particularly compelling (and it's hard to think of a better way to present a story featuring wall-to-ceiling artworks).

Highly commended - Jessica Woolley (and Monash University digital production students). “Global Poverty.”

Best photojournalism by an Undergraduate or Postgraduate Student ($200)

Judge: Rob Maccoll, Freelance

Winner – Brendan Martin, Queensland University of Technology. “Jason Knows Ipswich.”

Jason has obviously spent a considerable amount of time and effort getting to know his subject and documenting his lifestyle and environment. He shows an understanding of the lighting, lens selection and framing needed to tell this story. His images have not been manipulated or over-processed which is how good photojournalism should be. They are of a high standard and would comfortably fit on the pages of any magazine.

Highly Commended: Edward See Yuen Wong, Monash University. “‘We are dreamers’: The Filipino migrant workers of Hong Kong.”

Investigative journalism (all media)

Judge: Alison Sandy, Seven News

Winner - Sybilla Gross and Suryan Zaki, Monash University. “Bloody difficult coping with periods when you’re homeless.”

This certainly grabbed my attention straight away and was something I’d never given too much attention to before. It’s engaging to the audience, well written and the pictures are good. It was great having a homeless person but they shouldn’t have been left to the end. I’d have opened with them to provide the emotional context. My one other criticism was many of the pictures are of homeless men, rather than women who get their period. It is the winner in my opinion in that it’s an issue on our backdoor step and the effort that has been made in undertaking this project is to be applauded.

Highly commended – Caitlin Archbold and Bianca Banchetti (with Stefanny Widjaja and Cindy Gulla), Queensland University of Technology. “The faces behind Jakarta’s spilling waste.”

Our Watch (Individual, Any Medium, Undergraduate) ($200 prize)

Judges: Caitlyn Hoggan and Jane Gilmore

Winner – Ninah Kopel and Ollie Henderson, University of Technology Sydney. “After #MeToo: Conditions of entry.”

This podcast provides an in-depth exploration and analysis of the experiences of immigrant women who are victims of sexual and intimate partner violence. The podcast adopts a best practice approach, and meets the guidelines by acknowledging and naming intimate partner violence, and providing details for support services. It also delivers a clear picture of the additional challenges immigrant women experience including victim blaming and isolation, and discusses the gendered context in which violence occurs, highlighting the power perpetrators and the broader system have over victim/survivors. The piece also meets the guidelines by offering commentary from reliable sources including academics, and victim/survivors themselves bringing a human voice to the story.

Highly Commended – Jessica Woolley, Monash University. “‘You have to start from somewhere’: From changing the course to changing the culture.”

Our Watch (Individual, Any Medium, Postgraduate) ($200 prize)

Judges: Caitlyn Hoggan and Jane Gilmore

Winner - Amber Schultz, Monash University. “We need a refuge: Cowes residents confront Minister over family violence services”

Amber provides a well-constructed overview of the murder of Samantha Fraser. Amber meets the guidelines by naming the murder, and including the perpetrator in the story, as opposed to leaving him absent. The articles also discusses the broader context of family violence within the local community, identifying local statistics and the local challenges experienced by women in terms of accessing services. Multiple sources are called on for a statement throughout the article, including government and local community members who were able to humanise the story and the victim.

The Australian Press Council Postgraduate Prize for an essay on the topic of media ethics ($200 prize)

Judges: Mike Steketee and Julie Kinross, Australian Press Council members

Winner - Daria Impiombato, Monash University. “Charlie Pourquoi? Freedom of expression and its limitations in modern western democracies.”

A well-researched and well-argued essay on balancing freedom of speech and the press in a democracy with limitations on hate speech and protecting the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, in the interests of combatting extremism and encouraging cohesive societies.

The Australian Press Council Prize for Journalism Student of the Year ($750 prize)

Judges: Mike Steketee and Julie Kinross, Australian Press Council members

Winner - Sinead Fogarty, Macleay College

Examples include Tales of a foreign Correspondent, UK’s joint-oldest man celebrates his 110th birthday, The Australian women rising from Mother’s Ruin and A fun-sized premier league.

Sinead Fogarty demonstrated a superior ability to connect with and get the most out of interviewees and capture the essence of what is of interest to the reader. Sinead has a mature and lively writing style, has embraced new media and developed a compendium of consistently high quality work. Her work includes book reviews for the 2017 Hatch-Stella Prize and an article in which she accurately predicts the winner. Sinead achieved the highest academic marks for her year.

Highly Commended - Selby Stewart, Monash University.