Monash journalism students win five Ossie Awards

Monash journalism students win five Ossie Awards
Will Zwar.

Monash University journalism students have performed strongly in the 2017 Ossie Awards, winning five categories and three high commendations.

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

The awards were presented at the JERAA conference in Newcastle this week. Monash prize winners include Stephanie Chen (best video – over two minutes), Chloe Strahan (best video – two minutes or less), Caitlin Henderson (best photojournalism), Will Zwar and Nadia Dimattina (investigative journalism – all media), and Mojo (Dr Charles Stuart Prize for Best Publication).

High commendations were awarded to the Monash digital production team (innovation), Christiane Barro (best text-based story over 750 words), and Gerard Escaich Folch (Dart Centre Asia-Pacific prize – Individual, Undergraduate or Postgraduate, Any Medium).

Award-winning student Stephanie Chen.

Head of Media, Film and Journalism Associate Professor Mia Lindgren congratulated MFJ’s award-winning journalism students and all staff who mentored and supported them.

“Winning five national journalism student awards is a wonderful testament to the caliber of our students – the next generation of journalists,” Associate Professor Lindgren said.

“It confirms Monash University as the leading journalism school in Australia, for the second year in a row.” 

Mojo staff editor Corinna Hente said the Ossie Award for Best Student Publication was a great reward for the tremendous work done by students.

“Mojo works because the students take pride in the publication, and in the work they do for it. I'm particularly proud of the student editors, who do the most amazing job,” Ms Hente said.

“It's not just talent – which they have in spades – it's the commitment and the effort they put in every day, and the ideas and plans they have to make it even better.”


2017 Ossie Awards winners and high commendations

Best text-based story by an Undergraduate or Postgraduate Student – over 750 words ($200 prize)

Judge: Michael Bachelard, The Age

Highly Commended: Jessica Cortis, Western Sydney University, ‘Forget me not’

Highly Commended: Christiane Barro, Monash University, ‘“It’s safer for everyone”: heroin addicts plead for a safe injecting room’

Winner: Lucy Dean, University of Wollongong, ‘Living in the Twilight Zone’

Christiane Barro has been a consistent winner of awards.

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

Judge: Loukas Founten, ABC

Winner: Chloe Strahan, Monash University, ‘Nepal, home to the world’s first blind women’s cricket team’ This story was well shot, researched and told.

The reporter had the added difficulty of having to translate both her questions and the answers to them. It was clear that she took many hours to film, research and edit the story, which was informative, interesting and charming.

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

Judge: Simon Royal, ABC

Winner: Stephanie Chen, Monash University, ‘Funding justice for domestic violence sufferers”

This story had all the elements of a well-made long format story, without looking and feeling like a long news story: personal experience, interesting pictures and a strong narrative structure. Domestic violence is not a subject matter that naturally generates pictures, and too often generates cliched ‘re- enactments’.

The journalist managed to create thoughtful, appropriate and original vision. I was particularly impressed by that, and it is the principle reason in my view that makes this entry the winner in an extraordinarily strong field. The story combines elements of reporterless and voice-over scripting. Normally this wouldn’t work comfortably, but I think in this instance it comes off. Well done.

Best innovation in journalism (Individual or Group, Undergraduate or Postgraduate)

Judge: Myriam Robin, Fairfax

Highly Commended: Monash digital production team, ‘Bridging the Gender Gap’, Monash University As a highly technical work of digital story-telling with many moving parts, this entry was seamlessly presented.

Winner: Fact Check Your Mother, RMIT University

This entry deserves the award for a clever mix of old and new: not only did students display good multimedia journalism skills through the assignment, but each found an enduring, vivid story to cover. It was a joy to read through the various assignments – each student's enthusiasm for their subject was obvious to see.


Dr Charles Stuart Prize for Best Publication (Individual or Group, Undergraduate or Postgraduate)

Judge: Chris Bartlett, News Corp Australia

Highly Commended: Change Makers, University of Queensland

Highly Commended: The Citizen, University of Melbourne.

Winner: Mojo News, Monash University

A very tough decision. Mojo News had a good mix of hard news and features, and was well written and well presented. The website was simple, easy to navigate and clean (and it works well on mobile – important for audiences today.) The standard of all entries was very high, and they should all be commended.

Dart Centre Asia-Pacific prize (Individual, Undergraduate or Postgraduate, Any Medium) ($200 prize)

Judge: Cait McMahon, Dart Centre Asia-Pacific

Honourable Mention: Morgane Zouabi, University of Technology Sydney

Honourable Mention: Aaron Bunch, Edith Cowan University

Highly Commended: Gerard Escaich Folch, Monash University

Winner: Julie Cleaver and Kendall Hutt, AUT University

Cleaver and Hutt's victim-focused story of climate change in Fiji through the eyes of one woman and her family's tragedy was sensitive, well researched and of a high professional standard. The story was informative, and introduced a difficult-to-report climate change story in a very personal yet non gratuitous way. The modality of hearing the survivor’s voice without interference from the journalist resulted in a well-produced and intelligently edited piece. Congratulations.

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

This category is for still photography where it is used to support text-based reporting or where the images are the primary means of storytelling. Entries should be accompanied by any text incorporated in the published or submitted work – this text will not form part of the judging process, but will be used to provide guidance and context for judges. Video can not be submitted for judging in this category. This is an individual category, so entries must be the work of one or two students only.

Judge: Rob McCall, freelance

Winner: Caitlin Henderson, Monash University, ‘Fire and iron: inside a blacksmiths forge ‘

Caitlin was able to capture the intense conditions of the forge as well as the character of the blacksmith. Her use of available light helped her document her subject without changing the dynamic of the environment.

nvestigative journalism (all media) – (Group, Undergraduate or Postgraduate)

Judge: David Blackall

Winner: Will Zwar and Nadia Dimattina, Monash University, ‘The Carbon Equation: Where your offset dollar really goes'

This was an internationally relevant story, with local relevance too, and was well laid out on its site, with photographs, graphics, clean design, and social media sharing abilities at the bottom of the page.

Journalists Will Zwar and Nadia Dimattina said that all sources were made aware of their contribution to the story, and this is an important ethical imperative for investigative journalism, so that it may continue to enjoy a trusting relationship with the community it both serves and relies upon for leaks.

This story is one that is not widely covered, yet a great deal of the population travels overseas, most often without ever questioning where the “offset dollar really goes”.

There are also corruption and negative aspects to this story and the team managed to touch on that with a brief look at “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) in central Kalimantan, Indonesia”, which has displaced many indigenous people.

All winners here.