The winner of the 2013 Graham Perkin Award was Caroline Wilson of The Age for her body of work on the Essendon Football Club’s drugs scandal.
The field of entries for the 2013 Perkin award was particularly diverse, both in its subject matter and in the forms that many fine examples of outstanding journalism were presented.
For the judges, the direction that the journalism must be memorable as well as just outstanding led us to consider pieces for both their impact on readers and events at the time, and on how they would affect the way events were later remembered.
In awarding the Perkin prize to Caroline Wilson, the judges considered the clear eyed way Wilson both reported on the story of the drugs scandal in the Australian Football League, and analysed the impact of the events on those most directly affected by them: the players who had been injected with substances which might compromise their health and destroy their football careers.
Caroline Wilson found herself in the maelstrom of a controversy that, as can only really happen in Victoria, saw the community consumed by a crisis in its beloved football code, that produced intense and passionate views about who, and what, was right and wrong.
Amidst this, and some extraordinary personal abuse, she kept true to a journalist’s greatest task, an obligation to readers to best inform of how events were unfolding and what the implications might be.
Wilson not only told the story but gave her readers a clear frame of reference to consider its implications and their own views on the issue.
Two other journalists were shortlisted for the award:
Amanda Hodge, of The Australian, for coverage of Pakistan and gang rape in India; and James Campbell, of the Herald Sun, for his coverage of the tapes scandal that led to the demise of Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu.
The 38th annual Perkin Award, with a $20,000 prize, is the richest journalism award in Australia. It is awarded to a single piece of work or a portfolio that is excellent and memorable. It is named after the legendary editor of The Age who died suddenly in 1975 at the age of 45.
Judges for the 2013 award were Laura Tingle, Laurie Oakes and Jill Baker. The winner was announced at the Melbourne Press Club Quill Awards Dinner in Melbourne on 21 March 2014.
The award is administered independently by the Melbourne Press Club and supported by Swinburne University. The cash prize is supplied by The Age.