43 Walkley luminaries have signed an open letter, following protests over Walkley’s Ampol sponsorship deal.
Some of Australia’s top journalists are calling on the Walkley Foundation to protect the profession’s standing by ruling out fossil fuel sponsors.
In an open letter, the winners and finalists, including three Gold Walkley winners, asked the Foundation to:
- Establish a climate reporting award
- Agree not to renew its sponsorship arrangement with Ampol
- Commit to declining any new sponsorship arrangement with a coal, oil, or gas company.
It comes after a mass pull-out of Walkley award applicants, led by Cartoonist Jon Kudelka, because of Ampol’s sponsorship of the awards, which will be held in Sydney on November 23.
“One of the most important tenets of journalism is its independence of commercial or political interests. With that in mind, it’s hard to see how the Walkley’s can uphold those principles while also taking sponsorship from oil and gas companies. And in cases like these, the appearance of independence matters as much as the reality. If the public thinks the awards are influenced by the sponsors, they lose their value and integrity. That’s why I have signed the petition,” said Gold Walkley winner and media freedom advocate Peter Greste.
Comms Declare, a climate advocacy group representing communications professionals, wrote to the Walkley Foundation in February, raising concerns about Ampol’s sponsorship.
“Just like tobacco, fossil fuel companies are using sponsorships as a reputational fig leaf – allowing them to curry favour while profiting from products that are damaging our health and climate. Fossil fuel sponsorships are not charity, they’re influence peddling, and our most prestigious journalism awards need to be above that,” said Comms Declare founder, Belinda Noble.
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