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Monday, July 22, 2024

Walkley Awards Crack Down on “Chequebook Journalism”

Organisers of Australia’s Walkley Awards for journalism have issued a warning that they will be cracking down on “chequebook journalism” following last year’s disqualification of Seven News as a finalist in the All Media Scoop of the Year category.

Seven News was removed as a category finalist in the 2023 Walkley Awards following a review by the Board of The Walkley Foundation into the Network’s relationship with former senior advisor of the Australian Liberal Party, Bruce Lehrmann, who was accused of the rape of colleague Brittany Higgins in ministerial offices within Parliament House, Canberra.

According to the Foundation, documents uploaded to the Federal Court showed an exclusivity agreement made between Seven and Bruce Lehrmann in April 2023 and a leasing arrangement which provided Mr Lehrmann with 12 months of accommodation from 13 April 2023 to 12 April 2024.

In a statement, the Foundation said, “Following a review of these documents, The Walkley Foundation Board has come to the unanimous conclusion that the Seven Spotlight story ‘Trial and Error’ was not eligible for consideration in the All Media Scoop of the Year category for the 2023 Walkley Awards as the entry did not accurately describe the extent of benefits provided to Mr Lehrmann in exchange for interviews, information and exclusive access.

In calling for entries for the 2024 Awards, the organisation said, “The Walkley Foundation is vigilant with respect to ‘chequebook journalism’. Stories and interviews that are paid for are not eligible for a Walkley Award. Allowance is made for reasonable/minimal payment and/or reimbursement of expenses.

“You must declare and quantify in detail all payments, inducements, or benefits over a total value of $200, that have been provided to interviewees, participants in stories, their representatives, or other related parties, either directly or via other means, including value-in-kind benefits. The Foundation may request further information, including receipts, invoices, or other documentation in order to determine whether your application for entry into the Awards will be approved.”


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