Walkley Awards for journalism face boycott, scrutiny over climate change

A spokeswoman for the foundation said the sponsorship review was part of a broader examination of all of its policies.

“The foundation has previously announced it is undertaking a review of its sponsorship policy as part of a review of all its policies and procedures,” she said. “That review is ongoing.”

Kudelka outlined on his blog on Wednesday why he had been prompted to act, referencing an opinion piece written by Belinda Noble, founder of Comms Declare, on trade website Mumbrella in May.

Comms Declare founder Belinda Noble.

Comms Declare founder Belinda Noble.

Comms Declare is a communications group which lobbies against fossil fuel companies and their presence in media, marketing and advertising.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age cartoonist Cathy Wilcox, and David Pope, cartoonist for The Canberra Times, wrote an open letter to The Walkley Foundation and its board on Friday, asking it to divest its fossil fuel sponsorship, and to refuse any future sponsorship opportunities with fossil fuel partners.


Noble told this masthead on Friday that she hopes the Walkleys will drop Ampol as a sponsor.

“It’s not surprising cartoonists were the first,” Noble said. “They’re our most keen social observers, and they’re used to tackling our most grim realities with sort of humour and without fear or favour.”

Noble said it would be “great” to see more mainstream journalists take on the boycott.

On the Walkley Foundation’s website, Ampol’s CEO and managing director, Matt Halliday, is quoted as saying in 2022: “It is about recognising the history of the founder of Ampol.”

He continues: “[Fossil] fuel is going to disappear over the next couple of decades … The role that governments will need to play – and companies – in shaping what society is going to look like over the next 10, 20, 30 years, you need to have a very independent and capable media to … arbitrate that debate effectively.”

Noble questioned what else it will take for the Walkleys “to realise that journalism’s role is to call out influence peddling and corporate wrongs”, rather than be a “tool” for business. “[The foundation] can’t pretend they are above corporate influence.”

She said as the most prestigious journalism awards in Australia, the Walkleys will easily find a replacement sponsor, should it part ways with Ampol. “In fact, Ampol is only one of many sponsors already.”

The 2022 award for Coverage of Community and Regional Affairs was won by the ABC’s North Coast Team for their coverage of the Northern Rivers floods – an award sponsored by BHP.


The Walkley Awards introduced two new categories in 2023 – Specialist and Beat Reporting and Explanatory Journalism.

The former provides an opportunity for journalists covering a specific subject or round, the foundation said, “such as science, health, environment, technology, transport, arts, education or crime with a dedicated awards destination for their work”.

The Business Briefing newsletter delivers major stories, exclusive coverage and expert opinion. Sign up to get it every weekday morning.

Source link