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IFAJ announces winners in first international farm broadcasting award

An Australian television journalist has won the inaugural IFAJ Star Prize for Agricultural Broadcasting, announced last night at a special dinner in Ostend, Belgium.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reporter Kerry Staight won the award for ‘All in the Family’ – – a story about the sensitive issue of succession planning on family-owned farms in Australia, broadcast on the ABC in February 2009, as part of its weekly Landline program.

She took out the overall award after winning the category for television broadcasting in the competition, which was organised for the first time this year by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) as part of its prestigious Star Prize program.

Runner-up was Tony Benny from New Zealand, for his piece, ‘From the Islands’, broadcast as part of the Country Calendar program on TVNZ in July, 2009. The story explored his country’s seasonal workers program, through the eyes of workers who migrate from Pacific Island nations every year on temporary work permits to help overcome labour shortages during fruit harvest.

The radio category was won by another ABC journalist from Australia, Sarina Locke, for her documentary – – based around experiences in West Timor, Indonesia, where her mother worked as a veterinarian helping to contain exotic animal disease outbreaks.

Runner-up was Susanne Gäre from Sweden, for ‘From earth to keyboard’, which explored emerging technologies, which are likely to impact on agriculture in the future and how farmers are preparing for them. The story aired in March 2009 as part of The World of Knowledge, a scientific program broadcast by Swedish national radio.

Journalists from the United States won two categories honouring material broadcast via the internet. The category for online radio went to Jason Vance for a story about the release of the Cattle on Feed report, broadcast via in August, 2009.

Runner-up was Canadian Natalie Osborne, who is a student participant in the University of Guelph’s Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge (SPARK) program, a research communications initiative that involves students reporting on the university’s timely research success stories. Her piece on measuring feed efficiency in cattle using infra-red camera technology was broadcast in February 2009 on a website operated by the CKNX radio station in Ontario.

The category for online video went to Greg Horstmeier, Bryce Anderson and Elaine Shein for a piece broadcast as part of From the Field in July 2009, on the website . The story explored issues around the timely application of fungicides and using trained applicators. View their entry..

Runners-up were Angelika Konrad and Christian Leitner from Austria, for a story about a show organised by Austrian Grauvieh cattle breeders at Imst in May 2009. It was broadcast on as part of a regular series for Landwirt Agrarmedien GmbH.
View their entry:

Contest coordinator Liz Harfull said the IFAJ was extremely pleased with the response to the broadcast award in its first year, which attracted entries from five continents.  

“We recognise the importance of broadcast journalism for agriculture, and are pleased to be able to honour excellence for stories aired via the traditional mediums of radio and television, but also via the internet which is playing an increasingly important role in today’s media world,” she said.

“The winners not only informed us about issues of vital importance to agriculture, but they found a way to entertain us at the same time, through applying considerable technical skills with often limited resources.”

Harfull said the independent panel of judges were impressed with the number of entries, the best of which compared favourably with quality broadcasting in any sector.

In particular, they applauded overall winner Kerry Staight for “a cracking good story about an important issue”. According to the judges the piece covered all the angles of farm succession planning, was informative, and clearly involved detailed research, and travel over a wide area.

“The end result was a first rate and balanced program which held the attention of the viewer from first frame to last,” said one judge. “Excellent job,” said another. “The story definitely pulls at a person’s heart strings.”

Of the winning radio entry, both judges commented on the effective use of natural sound to capture a real sense of being there. One judge said the piece successfully incorporated a lot of people to capture the feel of West Timor. Another judge described it as an “excellent program – solid, informative and well presented. It also gave the listener a strong feel for a corner of the world that very few know anything about.”

In commenting on the winning online radio entry, the judges found that Vance had created a “no-nonsense, solid, fact-filled marketing report” which would find favour with its specialist audience. There were no wasted words; it was “packed with well-presented facts delivered with style and confidence.” Vance also showed good voice inflection in how the piece was narrated.

Both judges found the winning online video an interesting technical story, well done and with strong visuals to support the editorial. “This story was clearly destined for the specialist farmer and worked well in that regard,” one judge said.

For more information and to view the winning entries go to

For more information on the broadcast awards contact coordinator Liz Harfull at + 61 (0)409 674 941 or email

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