Nine News reporter Chris O’Keefe (pictured above) has been crowned the 2017 Coca-Cola Journalist of the Year at the 6th Annual NRMA Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism.
O’Keefe’s raft of stories that clinched the coveted Gold Spirax trophy included the story also judged Scoop of the Year – his exclusive revelation of how gross negligence at Bankstown Hospital led to the death of a newborn baby and left another infant suffering suffer severe brain damage after a nitrous oxide gas mix-up.
He also exposed secret discussions at Macquarie Street to reverse the controversial ban on greyhound racing and another exclusive that cabinet had signed off on privatising inner-west bus services, putting hundreds of jobs in limbo.
O’Keefe, who also took out the Harry Potter Award for Outstanding Television News Reporting, Scoop of the Year and Outstanding Political Journalism awards, is the first commercial television journalist to win the $25,000 Coca-Cola Journalist of the Year Award, the richest in Australian media.
His catalogue of work was judged ahead of previous Kennedy journalists of the year – two-time winner Adele Ferguson of Fairfax and the ABC’s Caro Meldrum-Hanna.
O’Keefe said he was humbled by the award wins.
“To win awards named in honour of two of the giants of our industry is really something special,” he said.
“Nothing we achieve can be done without the team at Nine News. We know we have a duty to our viewers to deliver accurate and top-quality stories every night. It’s a privilege to do what we do.
“Most importantly, to have been allowed to tell the Ghanem family’s story was an honour. I’m proud we gave them a voice in such a horrible situation.
“There is nothing that will rectify what happened to them, but telling their story demonstrated just how important journalism is.”
Adding to O’Keefe’s swag for Nine, cinematographer Adam Bovino took out the Gary Ticehurst Award for Outstanding TV News Camera Coverage and nine.com.au’s Emily McPherson won the Kennedy Award for Outstanding Online News Breaking.
Seven’s Michael Usher, the MC for Friday night’s gala, took out the prestigious award for Outstanding TV Current Affairs, while 7 News Sydney’s Shaun Besgrove was awarded the Cliff Neville Award for Outstanding Team Player.
Lucy Langtry of Prime7 Local News and cameraman Rod Smith won the Paul Lockyer Award for Outstanding Regional Broadcast Journalism with their excellent coverage of the devastating Northern Rivers floods.
Ita Buttrose was presented with the 2017 Kennedy Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement.
News Corp journalists and photographers took out 10 prestigious awards including Racing Writer of the Year, Outstanding Turf Reporting, Outstanding News Photo, Outstanding Portrait, Outstanding Sports Photo, Outstanding Online Video, Outstanding Travel Writing, People’s Choice Award for Outstanding photography, Outstanding Columnist and Outstanding Court Reporting.
Fairfax was again a major winner, collecting seven individual awards – the $5,000 Powerade Young Journalist of the Year (Jack Morphet of The Daily Advertiser), Outstanding Regional Newspaper Reporting, Outstanding Radio Current Affairs and Audio Blog, Outstanding Sport Reporting, Outstanding Finance Reporting, Outstanding Illustration and Outstanding Feature Writing.
The ABC collected five individual awards – Outstanding Indigenous Affairs Reporting, Outstanding Nightly TV Current Affairs, Outstanding Consumer Affairs Reporting, Outstanding Reporting on the Environment and Outstanding Investigative Reporting.
NITV and BuzzFeed News were breakthrough winners in the Outstanding Crime Reporting category, while prolific Kennedy Awards’ winner Natalie Peters of 2GB took out the Sean Flannery Award for Outstanding Radio Reporting.
The 100-plus finalists of the awards included media professionals from all major metropolitan newspapers and TV and radio networks, international entrants and journalists, photographers and artists from regional newspapers and radio networks throughout the state, including the Hunter, western NSW and Northern Rivers and Riverina regions.
2017 Coca-Cola Journalist of the Year: Chris O’Keefe (Nine News)
Les Kennedy Award for Outstanding Crime Reporting: Allan Clarke (NITV and BuzzFeed News)
Paul Lockyer Award for Outstanding Regional Broadcast Reporting: Lucy Langtry, Rod Smith (Prime 7 North Coast)
Chris Watson Award for Outstanding Regional Newspaper Reporting: Jack Morphet (The Daily Advertiser)
Rod Allen Award Racing Writer of the Year: Ray Thomas (The Daily Telegraph)
Outstanding Turf Reporting: Greg Bearup (The Australian)
Sean Flannery Award for Outstanding Radio Reporting: Natalie Peters (2GB)
Outstanding Radio Current Affairs and Audio Blog: ‘Phoebe’s Fall’ (Fairfax Media)
Cliff Neville Award – Team Player: Shaun Besgrove (7 News Sydney)
Peter Frilingos Award – Outstanding Sport Reporting: Chris Barrett, Adam Collins (The Sydney Morning Herald)
2017 Young Journalist of the Year: Jack Morphet (The Daily Advertiser)
2017 Participation Award: Crinkling News
Outstanding Travel Writing: Catherine Marshall (The Weekend Australian)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Ita Buttrose
John Newfong Award – Outstanding Indigenous Affairs Reporting: Caro Meldrum-Hanna, Mary Fallon, Elise Worthington (Four Corners, ABC)
Gary Ticehurst Award – Outstanding Television News Camera Coverage: Adam Bovino (Nine News)
Harry Potter Award – Outstanding Television News Reporting: Chris O’Keefe (Nine News)
Outstanding TV Current Affairs: Michael Usher (7 News)
Outstanding Nightly TV Current Affairs: James Thomas, Lesley Robinson (7.30, ABC)
Peter Ruehl Award – Outstanding Columnist: Rick Morton (The Weekend Australian)
Outstanding Finance Reporting: Michael Smith, Angus Grigg, Lisa Murray (The Australian Financial Review)
Outstanding Consumer Affairs Reporting: Sophie Scott, Meredith Griffiths (7.30, ABC)
Outstanding Online News Breaking: Emily McPherson (nine.com.au)
Outstanding Court Reporting: Emma Partridge (The Daily Telegraph)
Outstanding Reporting on the Environment: Caro Meldrum-Hanna, Jaya Balendra, Alex McDonald (Four Corners, ABC)
The Rebecca Wilson Award – Scoop of the Year: Chris O’Keefe (Nine News)
The Vince O’Farrell Award – Outstanding Illustration: Cathy Wilcox (The Sydney Morning Herald)
Outstanding Investigative Reporting: Caro Meldrum-Hanna, Mary Fallon, Elise Worthington (Four Corners, ABC)
Jim Oram Award – Outstanding Features Writing: Stephanie Wood (The Good Weekend)
Outstanding Political Journalist: Chris O’Keefe (Nine News)