Gippsland media will have strong representation at the Rural Press Club of Victoria Rural and Regional Journalism and Photography Awards, to take place at Geelong tonight.

The annual competition celebrates exemplary reporting by journalists and photographers from Victoria and Tasmania over a 12 month period, in this case the 2022-23 financial year.

The Rural Press Club of Victoria (RPCV) announced the finalists in 18 categories ahead of the awards. Gippsland-based media outlets who have been shortlisted for nominations include WIN News, ABC Gippsland, The Warragul and Drouin Gazette, and this very newspaper, the Gippsland Times & Maffra Spectator.

Rural Press Club of Victoria Rural and Regional Journalism and Photography Awards in 2022. Photo: Rural Press Club of Victoria.

“Gippsland has a committed and dedicated group of journalists across several independent newsrooms who are committed to upholding the principles of good journalism,” RPCV President and Latrobe Valley resident Bryce Eishold said.

“This year the club received 360 award entries from close to 50 media outlets across Victoria and Tasmania. Good luck to all the journalists and photographers who are shortlisted.”

 

Mr Eishold said the awards were a timely opportunity to recognise and highlight the importance of grassroots journalism in regional communities.

“Rural and regional journalists and photographers play a crucial role in providing accurate, timely and relevant information to their communities,” he said.

“This year, journalists and photographers will be recognised at a gala event in Geelong at the iconic Geelong Library and Heritage Centre on Friday, October 27.”

Mr Eishold is also a former Latrobe Valley Express journalist, a sister newspaper of the Gippsland Times.

From left: ABC Gippsland reporters Oliver Lees, William Howard, Mim Hook, Millie Spencer, Bec Symons and Madeleine Spencer. Photo: Contributed.

The entries span print, broadcast and online across a diverse selection of award categories. Four categories in particular are considered prestigious; they are ‘Journalist of the Year’, ‘Ray Frawley Young Journalist of the Year’, ‘Photographer of the Year’ and ‘Media Outlet of the Year’.

ABC Gippsland, whose office is on York Street in Sale, has been nominated for Media Outlet of the Year, and many of their journalists have been nominated in other categories. Senior journalist Bec Symons is one of them, with her name appearing four times, including as a finalist for Journalist of the Year.

Mrs Symons is a former Latrobe Valley Express journalist; she said all the nominations meant a great deal to her.

“I have worked really hard since coming back into a new role, to being the morning presenter for so many years and then having kids,” Mrs Symons told the Gippsland Times.

“And my big thing is connecting with people and telling stories that they might not be able to tell themselves or might never have a platform to do, so I think the work of a regional journalist is really important.”

Mrs Symons said she was very proud of the ABC Gippsland team.

“We’ve got a range of really passionate journos who are born and bred here, who thrive on keeping our communities informed and keeping their stories told,” she said.

“We’ve also got a new cohort of students who have moved to the area who are keen to learn, keen to grow in journalism.

Mrs Symons noted that television news in the region had declined in prevalence, with ABC and Win News the two major outlets providing coverage for Gippslanders.

“The ABC is definitely committed to keeping that regional presence because if you didn’t have regional journalists who cared about regional stories, we wouldn’t have any representation at all,” she said.

Stefan Bradley from the Gippsland Times is a finalist for ‘Best News Story Print’, and is up against journalists from the Loddon Herald, Warrnambool Standard and the Geelong Advertiser in that category.

Mr Bradley’s story in that category was ‘We won: Gavy looks to future’ (19/07/23 issue), about Sale businessman Gagandeep “Gavy” Singh, who was almost forced to leave Australia and go back to India, separating him from his wife Phoebe and their four-year-old son Jarro. Eventually, Mr Singh was given a pathway to a permanent partner visa, allowing him to stay with his family in Sale.