Master of Journalism student Sumeyya Ilanbey has been named a finalist in the Community Newspapers of Australia (CNA) Awards.
Sumeyya, who works for the Melton & Moorabool Star Weekly, was recognised for her news story, Election gun, in which a Melton council candidate posted photos online of his toddler son holding weapons and ammunition.
“As the story broke during the 2016 council election campaign, it garnered a lot of mainstream media and community attention,” Sumeyya said.
Cops in crisis, to improve police resources in Melbourne’s outer west, which earned the Melton & Moorabool Star Weekly a Community Service finalist nomination in the CNA awards.
Sumeyya wrote several stories about police in Melbourne’s outer-west being under-resourced and stretched following the announcement of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Her stories triggered the campaign, supported by the Police Association.
“The stories then took off on social media among the Melton/Caroline Springs community, and people were coming forward with their stories and experiences,” she said.
“There was a wave of aggravated burglaries and carjackings across Melbourne, so the stories resonated well with the local community. And mainstream media, other Star Weekly mastheads and community papers across the state joined in, calling for extra police.”
Sumeyya’s work created change after people power alerted authorities of the criminal problems in the area.
“Victoria Police and the state government had so far been adamant everything was under control, crime statistics were being monitored, resources were being allocated appropriately,” she said.
“But after a public rally in Caroline Springs, everything changed. A Labor politician urged residents to ‘maintain (their) rage … pressure … and activism’, and a VicPol commander conceded the ‘west’s growth had outstripped the services’ police could provide.”
Sumeyya said it was reassuring her journalism work contributed to better outcomes in the community she covers.
“Being named as a finalist in the CNA awards is just mind-blowing, but that I’m a national finalist is beyond my wildest dreams,” she said.
“We worked so hard for so long (seven months) on the Cops in crisis stories, and being acknowledged for that work is encouraging.
Sumeyya said as journalists, it was important to speak with “real people about real-life issues”.
“Sitting back and reflecting on the last 12 months, I can’t help but think how vital journalism is to democracy and people’s lives – we don’t always get it right, but when we do it’s so rewarding.”
The national winners will be presented at the CNA Awards Gala Dinner in Melbourne on Friday, June 23, 2017.
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