Fairfax photojournalist Kate Geraghty, along with journalist Michael Bachelard, have won the prestigious 2017 Gold Walkley Award for their extended interactive feature piece, Surviving IS: Stories From Mosul.
Surviving IS explores the lives of people living in Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, which was under Islamic State rule until Iraqi forces took the city back earlier this year. The city has been reduced to rubble, and there’s a long road before stability is restored.
Bachelard writes about the complexities facing Mosul citizens attempting to return to a normal life, while Geraghty captures stills and short videos to immerse readers into the atmosphere of a city and a situation far from understanding.
‘As a result of months of planning and research, I travelled twice to cover the battle of Mosul in Iraq,’ Geraghty said. ‘Under extreme conditions, I photographed airstrikes over the Old City, people fleeing, including the injured like Tabarek, who lay on the ground holding her wound concealed under her dress. I wanted to put a human face to the survivors and victims of three years under ISIS.
‘I was honoured to talk with 18-year old Abdulrahman who was being treated for 60 per cent burns and sadly succumbed to his wounds four days later. Through images of Iraqi soldiers patrolling ruined streets and guarding oil wells set on fire by IS fighters, I wanted to capture the carnage that is left in the wake of conflict.’
Upon awarding Geraghty and Bachelard the top prize, The Walkley Foundation released this statement:
‘…The stories they shared became an atmospheric, visceral, immersive insight into a city and its people devastated by war. While foreign war can feel and be reported as something “other”, Bachelard’s words and Geraghty’s visuals made Mosul’s loss into one we should all grieve. They explored how a family had been scarred and displaced when a missile of mustard gas crashed through their ceiling. How a school teacher was trying to reassert normality among traumatised children. They met the people who had been injured and heard their stories.
‘Bachelard and Geraghty also gave us a longer story of Mosul, before and after IS. A picture of a beautiful, cosmopolitan city full of people of many faiths before it was reduced to rubble, and the wary, wearied residents’ hopes for rebuilding the future, albeit tempered with exhaustion.’
The interactive project off-shoots into a series of multimedia features, rather than being published as a standalone article.
Geraghty, who also won the 2017 Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year, is an experienced conflict and disaster photojournalist.
She began her photography career in 1997, and has covered major events from around the globe.
‘In the absence of a justice system a lot of the time in places you go to, photojournalism has the ability to document history,’ Geraghty told the Sydney Morning Herald about the role of photojournalism. ‘We preserve what’s happening in people’s lives and the ramifications of the decisions that are made by politicians and governments around the world. We photograph everything.’
Surviving IS is an example of an exciting new interactive multimedia platform photographers and journalists are experimenting with to report stories online. Articles can include photos, video, and longform journalism to explore topics in-depth.
The move from print to online media has been criticised for partly causing a loss of quality – tightening newsroom budgets have led to fewer staff, and a lack of resources for photographers and journalists to pursue stories.
While this is undoubtedly true, online publishing also results in terrific interactive features such as Surviving IS, along with Australian photographer Daniel Berehulak’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo series, They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals.
Nikon-Walkley Awards for Excellence in Photojournalism
Cairns Post photographer Justin Brierty won the News Photography category for his photo, Don’t Shoot.
The photo was captured as police swooped on a Cairns house in search of a person involved in a robbery. A woman who ran out of the house had guns drawn on her.
Brierty was sent to a McDonald’s to cover a robbery. He arrived after the crime scene had been cleared, and was on his way back when he heard over a police scanner that the vehicle involved in the robbery had been located.
‘I decided to park my car towards the end of the street and at an angle where I thought I could get the best image without being noticed,’ Brierty said. ‘After a few minutes of listening to the scanner and preparing my camera equipment, everything went quiet.
‘Suddenly, a combination of at least 12 plain-clothes and uniformed police swooped on the address with guns drawn, aiming them directly at a young woman, who came running out in total shock. Initially I had remained in the car, however when I heard the lady scream, I got out and fired away several images to capture the policeman pointing his gun at the lady’s chest, and the look of horror on her face.’
Getty Images photographer Scott Barbour won the Sports Photography category for his photo series, Split Second.
One of the photos captures the moment 2016 MotoGP contestant Marc Marquez crashes his bike at Phillip Island, Victoria.
‘Newly crowned world champion Marquez was expected to easily win the Australian Grand Prix when he started from pole position, but amazingly he crashed out on lap 10,’ said Barbour. ‘The biggest moment of the weekend happened right in front of me and I didn’t miss it.’
Sunday Telegraph photographer Sam Ruttyn won the Photographic Essay category, for Lion Heart Leo.
For the series, Ruttyn followed four-year old Leo Hendricks as he underwent life-saving open-heart surgery at The Children’s Hospital in Westmead, Sydney.
The photographer worked on the project for several months – through the operation and recovery. It was Sunday Telegraph‘s front page story, coupled with an online gallery and video.
‘What an amazing essay. You’re told a story right from the beginning, you don’t need words to understand,’ said the judges. ‘It’s a heart-breaker, but then you see him so happy in the end. From front to back it’s the best execution of a story. It’s simple and strong. Beautifully told.’
This was the 62nd annual Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism. Photojournalist Andrew Quilty won the 2016 Gold Walkley award, making this the second year in a row photographers have won the top prize.