Photojournalist Andrew Quilty wins Gold Walkley

THE moving photojournalism series of a bombed Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Afghanistan, The Man on the Operating Table by freelance photographer Andrew Quilty, has won him the 2016 Gold Walkley Award.

It was a memorable choice in a Walkley Awards event which also presented cartoonist Bruce Petty the Walkley for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, and acclaimed the professional life of news journalist the Rebecca Wilson, who passed away in October, with the Walkley Award for Journalistic Leadership. 

In business journalism, Adele Ferguson, Klaus Toft and Mario Christodoulou, in a combined effort by Fairfax Newspapers and ABC TV Four Corners, won the Walkley for their research and reporting on the Commonwealth Bank’s Comminsure scandal, titled ‘Money For Nothing’.

A freelance photojournalist based in Kabul, Andrew Quilty has relentlessly pursued complex and important stories in a country that — after some 14 years of war — may have receded from the world’s front pages, but is no less dangerous or critical to understand, noted the Walkley judges.

Since moving to Afghanistan in 2013, Mr Quilty has won six Walkley Awards, including this year’s Nikon-Walkley Photo of the Year and the News Photography category.

After an errant US airstrike destroyed the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital and killed 42 people in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in October 2015, Mr Quilty was the first journalist to reach the scene. He found bodies still in the rubble; with fighting still going on in the vicinity, for it had been too dangerous to remove them. 

He discovered one man lying on an operating table who was later identified as Baynazar Mohammad Nazar, a 43-year-old Afghan civilian. Mr Quilty’s image of The Man on the Operating Table is shocking and powerful, while his series of the same name introduces Baynazar the man, who rode a bicycle to work and shared a small house with his family.

Bruce Petty was awarded the Walkley for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism, recognising a 55-year career of drawing political cartoons as well as a career in animation and film directing that has also won him an Oscar.

Rebecca Wilson’s posthumous award for Journalistic Leadership, accepted by her son, Tom Sacre, acclaimed her “constant drive to challenge conventions and to pave the way for younger female reporters”.

The Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year Award went to News Corp Australia’s Alex Coppel for a body of work that showcased his technical skill and storytelling ability.

Commenting on the Walkley judging process, advisory board chair Kate McClymont said, “The judging process is what gives the Walkley Awards its credibility. The judges are senior journalists — people who know the skill, quick wit, depth of research and analysis, resourcefulness and even physical courage that it takes to create the best journalism.”

The 61st Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism were presented in 34 categories.

More than 600 journalists and media identities gathered in the Plaza Ballroom of Brisbane’s Convention and Exhibition Centre for the gala event hosted by Sky News’ David Speers. The Walkley Awards were held in Brisbane with the support of Tourism and Events Queensland.

The full list of winners is published at


2016 Walkley Award Winners


Print/Text News Report — Award partner Media Super:

Grant McArthurHerald Sun, ‘Bacchus Marsh Baby Deaths’.

Social Equity JournalismAward partner Seven Network:
Ben Schneiders, Royce Millar and Nick ToscanoThe AgeThe Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times, Fairfax Media, ‘Sold Out: Australia’s biggest wages scandal’.

Multimedia StorytellingAward partner News Corp Australia:
SBS Online Team, SBS Australia, ‘My Grandmother’s Lingo’.

Nikon-Walkley Photo of the YearAward partner Nikon
Andrew QuiltyForeign Policy, ‘The Man on the Operating Table’.

Headline Journalism:

Matthew QuagliottoThe Daily Telegraph, ‘Thirst Degree Murder’, ‘Law & Snorter’, ‘Tyred & Demotional’.

Coverage of Indigenous AffairsAward partner BHP Billiton:
Dan Box, Eric George and Stephen FitzpatrickThe Australian, ‘Bowraville’.

Coverage of Community and Regional AffairsAward partner Australia Post:
Newcastle Herald Staff ReportersNewcastle Herald, ‘The Foam and the Fury’.

Sports Journalism:

Adrian ProszenkoThe Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Parramatta Eels salary cap scandal’.

Sport PhotographyAward partner Nikon:
Cameron Spencer, Getty Images, ‘The Defining Moment’.

Radio/Audio News and Current Affairs Award partner ABC:
Sophie McNeill and Fouad Abu GoshPM and AM, ABC Radio, ‘Voices from Besieged Syria’.

Radio/Audio Documentary, Feature, Podcast or SpecialAward partner QUT:
Dan Box and Eric GeorgeThe Australian, ‘Bowraville Podcast’.

Print/Text Feature Writing Long (over 4000 words):

Jess HillThe Monthly, ‘Suffer the Children: Trouble in the Family Court’.

Scoop of the Year —  Award partner Nine Network:
Nick TabakoffThe Daily Telegraph, ‘The Parramatta Eels NRL scandal’.


Mark KnightHerald Sun, ‘Subway’, ‘Census night in the Senate’, ‘Reg Grundy RIP’.


David RoweThe Australian Financial Review and The Sun Herald, ‘New clothes’, ‘Malcolm X and Ali’, ‘White ribbon’.

Coverage of a Major News Event or Issue:

Sky News Team, Sky News, ‘2016 Election Coverage’.

Print/Text Feature Writing Short (under 4000 words) — Award partner Fairfax:
Ben DohertyGuardian Australia, ‘Crushed by the unblinking regime: the life and tragic death of Fazel Chegeni’.

Nikon-Walkley News Photography Award partner Nikon:
Andrew QuiltyForeign Policy, ‘The Man on The Operating Table’.

Business JournalismAward partner ING Direct:
Adele Ferguson, Klaus Toft and Mario Christodoulou, Fairfax Newspapers and ABC TV Four Corners, ‘Money For Nothing’.

Nikon-Walkley Feature/Photographic EssayAward partner Nikon:
David Maurice SmithGuardian Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Globe and Mail and Mother Jones Magazine, ‘Refugee Crisis in the Balkans’.

International JournalismAward partner University of Queensland:
Sophie McNeill, Aaron Hollett, Mark Corcoran and Matt WalkerForeign Correspondent, ABC TV, ‘Yemen: The War on Children’.

CameraworkAward partner Australian Super:
Andy Taylor60 Minutes, Nine Network, ‘Predator’.

TV/AV News Reporting:

Chris O’KeefeNine News, Nine Network, ‘Bankstown Hospital’.

TV/AV Daily Current Affairs Award partner SBS:
Anne Connolly, Suzanne Smith and Lesley Robinson7.30, ABC TV, ‘Anglican Church Paedophile Ring’.

TV/AV Weekly Current Affairs:

Linton Besser, Louie Eroglu, Jaya Balendra and Elise WorthingtonFour Corners, ABC TV, ‘State of Fear’.

Investigative JournalismAward partner Bayer:
Adele Ferguson, Klaus Toft and Mario Christodoulou, Fairfax Newspapers and ABC TV Four Corners, ‘Money For Nothing’.


Caro Meldrum-HannaFour Corners, ABC TV, ‘Jackson and Lawler’.

Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique:

Greg JerichoGuardian Australia, ‘Politics, the planet and the personal’.

Walkley Documentary Award:

Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton and Ivan O’Mahoney, In Films and ABC TV, Hitting Home.

Walkley Book Award:

Stan GrantTalking to My Country, HarperCollins Publishers.

Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the YearAward partner Nikon:
Alex CoppelHerald Sun.

Journalistic LeadershipAward partner Qantas;
Rebecca Wilson.

Outstanding Contribution to JournalismAward partner Sky News:
Bruce Petty.

Gold Walkley Award partner MEAA:
Andrew QuiltyForeign Policy, ‘The Man on the Operating Table’.


Walkley Award board judges are Kate McClymont, (chair), The Sydney Morning Herald; Angelos Frangopoulos, (deputy chair) Australian News Channel; Michael Amendolia, photographer; Dennis Atkins, The Courier-Mail; Michael Beach, The Sunday Times; Anne Davies; Marina Go; Claire Harvey, The Sunday Telegraph; Fran Kelly, ABC Radio National; Jonathan Richards, Google Creative Lab; John Stanley, 2UE; Cameron Stewart, The Australian; Sandra Sully, TEN Eyewitness News; Lisa Wilkinson, Nine Network.


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