A team of Bond University journalism students and their lecturer, Caroline Graham, have won a national award for investigative journalism.
The group of 24 students took out the Sally A White Prize for Investigative Journalism at the 2013 Ossie Awards, presented by the Journalism Education Association of Australia at their national conference, held on the Sunshine Coast last week.
Journalism student Tan Li Jun Sheena was also ‘Highly Commended’ for her individual efforts in the category of Best Story by an International Student.
The Bond team impressed the judges with a series of investigative reports published on the Crikey website in June this year, based on their data-mining of parliamentary records.
Collectively titled ‘Order in the House’, the eight articles looked at how active our elected MPs in the House of Representatives had been over 150 sitting days from September 2010 to January 2013, and were accompanied by a searchable database, which allowed readers to check on their federal MP's performance.
Highlighting key areas such as demographic, gender and indigenous representation, their research provided startling insights into who’s doing all the talking and what they’re talking about.
"This project was a chance for our students and the broader public to hold Australia's elected members to account,” said Bond University Teaching Fellow, Caroline Graham.
"In the lead up to the election campaign, I think people were generally very jaded, and tired of political rhetoric. This was a chance to go to a more objective source for an insight into Canberra's strongest and weakest players,” Ms Graham said.
"The data also raised concerns about inefficiencies and inequalities in the parliamentary system.
"For example, we found that regional and rural Australia was underrepresented on the front bench and almost half of question time was dominated by Dorothy Dixers (prepared questions posed to a member of a minister's own party).
"Indigenous issues barely rated a mention in question time, while politicking about the carbon tax and asylum seekers consumed about a quarter of question time."
According to the judge’s comments, “the Bond entry was comprehensive and compelling. It pulled together a broad cross-section of topics in a timely fashion ahead of the election.”
It marks the first time that a Bond University team has won this award which attracts entries from leading universities all over Australia.
The Bond team included Campbell Gellie, Tan Li Jun Sheena, Adam Braksator, Stephanie Cogno-Maglieri, Krystal Etherington-Onn, Paris Faint, Edward Fleetwood, Michelle Gately, Leilani Gaze, Liana Hanley, Sasha Hanton, Elin Joensson, Celene Kubala, Robert Millard, Jack Morphet, Jonathan Parry, Silje Remme, Douglas Robichaud, Fiona Self, Natasha Smerling, Emma Willemsen, Sally Wu, Scott Ready and Matthew Walsh.