Monash University journalism students stood out among their peers in the 2015 Ossie Awards, which were presented at Abercrombie House in Bathurst on December 1.
The Ossies, which are announced annually by the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA), represent the outstanding work of undergraduate and postgraduate students from about 25 universities across Australia and New Zealand.
The Monash prizewinners were Jack Paynter (Investigative Journalism – Individual), Nicola McCaskill (Best Photojournalism), Alana Mitchelson (Best text-based story – 750 words or less: highly commended), Simon Gradkowski (Best Innovation: highly commended), and Brendan O’Shea (Best video story – over 2 minutes: highly commended).
Jack Paynter’s investigative piece published in The Age, Stripping the Willow, was praised for its “refreshing, lively and easy-to-read style” which was a compelling read from beginning to end.
Jack said he was humbled to receive the Ossie, which would motivate him more to keep working hard at university to crack the industry.
“Getting my story published was a great experience and really taught me a lot about the rigors of the editing process, such as writing for your audience so that they can easily understand the story you are trying to tell,” Jack said.
“I would like to thank my teacher Bill Birnbauer for his guidance this year and help in getting the story published. I thoroughly enjoyed his unit in investigative journalism and would recommend it to anyone studying journalism.”
“Having only recently picked up a DSLR, Nicola has captured the essence of the story with well-composed images that tell the story of the daily and often uninspiring work of a sex worker without being gratuitous,” the judges said.
Nicola said stories and representations of sex workers usually seemed to be framed through a lens of crime, or politics.
“Those might be relevant, but for a lot of people, it’s just their job,” Nicola said.
“But it seemed striking that a lot of articles talk a lot about sex workers without ever actually talking to them.”
Nicola said she owed a huge thanks to her photojournalism teacher, Julie Bowyer, who “showed me another side to journalism beyond factual, informative reporting”.
“She was incredibly helpful and supportive with helping us learn photography techniques and photo editing, even for someone like me who had very little experience,” Nicola said.
“I’m also extremely thankful to Bill Birnbauer for his nomination, and to Corinna Hente and the Mojo team for publishing the piece.
“And to Clarissa, for patiently allowing me to photograph her for hours and agreeing to share her story.”
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