Every journalist who is insecure about maths has had to report on surveys. We revisit an evergreen piece from the Walkley Magazine archives, in which journalist Jason Thomas helps us sort them out.

“survey” by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Surveys are a constant part of the news cycle. They promise us a snapshot of our nation. As journalists, we rely on them — and the statistics we use can change opinions and drive policymaking. Yet news stories about even the highest quality surveys can lack context and mislead the public. Here, statisticians and survey experts give us their top tips on sussing out surveys and using them wisely.

Journalists who are tentative about numbers sometimes take surveys at face value as authoritative. But they’re sources like any others. And all surveys have limitations. …


Gold Walkley-winning investigative journalist Chris Masters spoke about journalists’ duty to the public at the launch of the JNI Building last week.

Chris Masters speaks at the launch of the Judith Neilson Institute Building. Photo: Peter Morris.

When I reflect on a half century career as one of the reptiles, probably like the rest of you, I am pained by the demagogues and the dissemblers of self-interest as public interest, who proliferate the media landscape. I am more than wearied by the defamation decades; my death by a thousand courts, which as it happens, at an age when I qualify for the Astra Zeneca jab, are ongoing.

For all that, never once have I lost faith in the worth of journalism and its contribution to good citizenship and humanity.

My best teacher, my mother Olga, an alert…


“This was a story that resonated around the biggest companies in Australia and they all stood up and took notice of it.” The 2020 Walkley winner for Business Journalism.

Michael Roddan at the 2020 Walkley winners dinner. Photo: Adam Hollingworth.

Winner of Business Journalism at the 2020 Walkley Awards

Michael Roddan, The Australian Financial Review, “#AMPToo — sexual harassment at AMP

Michael Roddan’s exclusive investigation into the culture of the 170-year-old wealth management company AMP directly resulted in the resignations of some of the most powerful men in corporate Australia and bought the #MeToo movement into the boardroom.

Roddan’s series of investigations into sexual harassment at AMP included 17 front-page stories for The Financial Review between July 1 and August 24, 2020. He achieved unprecedented reporting of the internal backlash surrounding Boe Pahari’s promotion, including highly detailed arguments between executive-level women in closed-door meetings. …


Diversity in newsrooms goes to the heart of trust and relevance, writes Andrea Ho. A new fellowship opportunity aims to make positive steps towards a more diverse media.

Photo: Alvaro Reyes/Unsplash.

In journalism we often say, it’s who you know, not what you know. Who you know can determine whether you get the scoop, the leak, or the exclusive. And it can also determine whether you get ahead in your career.

There is no longer an argument: As Reuters reaffirmed this month, newsrooms globally are more male, more able-bodied, more white, than the communities we report to and about. But there’s one more gaping hole in Australian newsrooms that’s unacceptable: socio-economic disadvantage.

Journalism has a class problem. Our newsrooms are disproportionately middle-class, and it’s dooming journalism to irrelevance.

It wasn’t always…


“If there is one thing that I hope from our story, it’s that it puts men on notice that you cannot use your seniority or your power to advance your own interests over the welfare of your young female associates, junior officers.”

Kate McClymont and Jacqueline Maley at the 2020 Walkley winners dinner. Photo: Adam Hollingworth.

Winner of Print/Text News Report at the 2020 Walkley Awards

Jacqueline Maley and Kate McClymont, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, “‘Dirty Dyson’: A Harasser on the High Court

Putting pen to paper for an explosive report that tears at the reputation of an Australian legal titan requires courage and meticulous research, especially when the target is eminent judicial figure and former High Court judge Dyson Heydon.

Jacqueline Maley and Kate McClymont spent two years investigating claims that the former High Court judge had sexually harassed a number of young female associates during his tenure. …


Our Watch ambassador Arman Abrahimzadeh on the importance of responsible reporting and its power to create change. CN: violence.

Arman Abrahimzadeh

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my father being violent.

I can still vividly recall the time he threw my mother into a window and when he threatened to kill the family by burning down our house while we were still inside.

The memories are forever seared into my past — psychological scars that will never fade.

Every day my father made sure my mother, Zahra and my two sisters, Atena and Anita and I knew that he was the head of our household and that if we disobeyed his authority, there would be grave consequences.

After years…


“The best time to be a cartoonist is when there’s something that everyone is engaged in and talking about.”

Winner of Best Cartoon at the 2020 Walkley Awards

David Rowe, The Australian Financial Review, “Thoughts and Prayers”

In his entry statement about this cartoon, David Rowe said: “The best cartoons, for me, are when you’re hesitant to actually submit because they’re on the edge and they’re a gut response. The ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ cartoon was pretty damning early on but, following the Hawaii escapade and what transpired later, it only grew in power.”

The judges agreed, “In a dramatic and cleverly realised cartoon, David Rowe encapsulated the Prime Minister’s futile attempts to redress his earlier absence from the bushfire crisis, while ridiculing his platitudes as he faced the…


From a team of 12 in Melbourne to newsrooms in nine countries, editor Misha Ketchell shares the outlet’s origin story as they celebrate their tenth birthday.

Photo: Suji Gunawardhana.

Today marks 10 years since The Conversation website was launched in Melbourne. It set out with a mission of improving public discourse by encouraging experts to engage with the media. It does this by teaming professional journalists with academic experts to help them share their knowledge directly with the public.

In just 10 years this unique approach of publishing news analysis written by experts has taken off across the world, with teams in the US and UK, France, Spain, Africa, Canada, Indonesia and New Zealand. …


“When we’re looking for stories, it’s like we’re looking for small doorways into big worlds.”

Joel Stillone, Ninah Kopel, Marc Fennell and Darren Mara (award presenter) at the 2020 Walkley winners dinner. Photo: Adam Hollingworth.

Winner of TV/Video Current Affairs Short at the 2020 Walkley Awards

Marc Fennell, Ninah Kopel and Joel Stillone, The Feed, SBS, “Stuffed: Inside Australia’s Biggest Museum Heist

It may have been the biggest museum theft in Australia’s history, with more than 2,000 artefacts stolen between 1996 and 2003. But since headlines like “Bug man accused of $1m museum thefts” circulated in the early 2000s, the story was left for dead — until the team from The Feed tracked him down. Through a creative visual treatment, artful editing and a considered personal touch, “Stuffed” balanced an Australian historical event on the knife-edge of conflicting perspectives.

We spoke to Marc Fennell and Ninah…


“People turn to facts at big moments, don’t they? They turn to truth and high quality journalism at crucial moments”.

Liam Mannix at the 2020 Walkley winners dinner. Photo: Adam Hollingworth.

Winner of Print/Text: Feature Writing Short (under 4000 words) at the 2020 Walkley Awards

Liam Mannix, The Age, “The Perfect Virus: Two gene tweaks that turned COVID-19 into a killer

Liam Mannix’s feature “The Perfect Virus” both broke news and set out complex science in an accurate but accessible style. Written just as the COVID-19 pandemic was hitting Australia, when the global case tally was only 500,000, it broke new ground by explaining key concepts such as spike proteins, RaTG13 and furin and showing how the virus evolved from harmless to lethal. The article anticipated all the crucial elements of the pandemic story, long before they became part of the conversation.

We spoke with…

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