‘Telling the difficult stories that need to be told’: NT Independent recognised by national judges with two NT media awards

by | Nov 8, 2021 | News | 0 comments

The NT Independent was recognised for its role in improving the Territory’s democracy, picking up two major accolades at the 2021 NT Media Awards.

The NT Independent won Best News Coverage (print/text) and Best Crime/Court Reporting (all media).

The awards, organised by the Media and Entertainment Arts Alliance, the Walkley Foundation and the Darwin Press Club, were judged by a panel of journalists and editors from major media outlets across the country.

Editor Christopher Walsh and digital editor David Wood were given the Best Crime Reporting award for their series on the failures of the NT Police executive and media team to report serious sexual assaults – some involving children – in a timely manner.

“Were it not for the efforts of Christopher Walsh and David Wood, this extraordinary series of reports would never have seen the light of day,” the judges said.

“Their stories were a tour de force of contact based journalism, made all the more remarkable by the Territory government’s long-running attempt to freeze the NT Independent out of covering important issues.

“The suppression of crime-related details by senior police caused great angst in the community. Thanks to Chris and David, other media outlets also took up the story, and it resulted in a review of police media operations.”

Walsh was separately awarded the Best News Coverage award for his series on the NT police college’s failures. He was up against tough competition with the ABC’s Jano Gibson and Sky News’s Matt Cunningham for the major award.

“This series of exclusive articles from Christopher Walsh shines a welcome light on myriad failures within one of the Northern Territory’s most important institutions,” the judges said.

“Christopher draws on sources and a key leaked document as the basis of his work, pulling apart the detail and following up with powerful, new angles. It is impressive news gathering and reporting.

“The judges note several of Christopher’s other submissions in this category could have easily been included in the final three. Well done, Christopher, on a very good year.

“Congratulations are also in order for Matt and Jano for their exceptional entries. The judges found them incredibly hard to split.”

For the first time in recent memory, no government ministers attended the NT Media Awards function. Leader of the Opposition Lia Finocchiaro did attend as well as Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis, who left early to attend to another matter, the crowd was told.

Sarah Matthews was awarded the Young Journalist of the Year award for her coverage of “diverse issues”.

Sky News correspondent Matt Cunningham was awarded Journalist of the Year.

“Matt has proven he is a journalist of a very high caliber; breaking stories of state & national importance, and delivering them in a compelling way. The judges’ applaud Matt’s dedication to holding the powerful to account,” the judges said.

“The judges would like to highly commend Christopher Walsh – he is clearly dedicated to telling the difficult stories that need to be told. We congratulate him on his use of contacts to break important stories.”

Here’s the full list of winners of the 2021 NT Media Awards:


Best News Coverage Supported by Media Super

  • Christopher Walsh, NT Independent, “The real Police Academy: Exposing the NT Police College’s failures”


Best Feature Writing Supported by ABC

  • Kylie Stevenson, The Weekend Australian Magazine, “Australia’s secret war in Borneo”


Best Magazine or Lift Out Supported by Media Super 

  • Off The Leash, Off The Leash Magazine, Off The Leash Magazine”



Best News Coverage Supported by Nine

  • Matt Cunningham, Sky News Australia, “Holding the powerful to account”


Best Current Affairs or Feature Supported by Telstra

  • Matt Garrick, ABC News, “Out of the rubble: life after the miners leave”


Excellence in Radio Broadcasting Supported by NT Press Club

  • Miranda Tetlow, Late Lunch, ABC Radio Northern Territory, ABC Online and ABC Digital, “A leap of faith: Stories from Northern Territory migrants and refugees”



Best Online Coverage Supported by City of Darwin

  • Lauren Roberts, ABC News, “Australia’s vaccine rollout”


Best Sports Journalism Supported by Hutton McCarthy

  • Eleni Roussos, ABC 7PM, ABC News and ABC News Online, “Teenage karate sensation kicking goals in Central Australia”


Best Crime/Court Reporting Supported by Maurice Blackburn

  • Christopher Walsh and David Wood, NT Independent, “Shattering the silence: Police suppression of sex assaults exposed”


Pete Davies Memorial Campaigning Journalism Award Supported by NT News

  • Judith Aisthorpe and Madura McCormack, NT News, “Restore Our Rights”


Indigenous Affairs Reporting Supported by Northern Land Council

  • Matt Cunningham, Sky News Australia, “Treaty Commissioner Mick Dodson revelation”


Visual Storytelling Supported by Media Super

  • Che Chorley, NT News and The Herald Sun, “Football from the Tiwi Islands”


Marchbanks Young Journalist of the Year 2021 Supported by MEAA

  • Sarah Matthews, NT News and com.au, “Body of Work”


Journalist/Photojournalist of the Year 2021 Supported by MEAA

  • Matt Cunningham, Sky News Australia
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