Press Release, LGAQ

THE driving force behind a fledgling online news outfit has been announced as the 2021 winner of Queensland’s richest reporting prize, the Bean Lockyer Ticehurst Award for Excellence in Regional Journalism.

Harry Clarke from Chinchilla-based Country Caller accepted the award this evening at the Local Government Association of Queensland’s (LGAQ) 125th Annual Conference in Mackay.

LGAQ President and Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said Harry’s passion for regional Queensland came through in his dedication to providing not only his community but other regional communities with a strong, independent voice. 

“Harry returned home to Chinchilla after working in TV news in Brisbane and started his own online news service to tell stories that would otherwise go untold,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“He’s doing a commendable job, not just in terms of the subjects he’s covering, but in the quality and clarity of his reporting.”

Country Caller founder Harry Clarke, presented the LGAQ Journalism Award from association president Mark Jamieson. IMAGE: Supplied

“Harry understands the importance of Queensland’s regional communities to this state,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“I hope the award helps him to continue his excellent work and indeed, inspires others to follow suit.” 

Country Caller commenced operations in August 2020, with the aim of providing greater coverage of news occurring outside Queensland’s larger cities.

Judges’ Citation: 

In just 18 months of operation, Country Caller and its proprietor Harry Clarke have set a uniformly high standard of reporting, particularly on issues in the Darling Downs, Surat Basin and Maranoa – vital regions that are too often overlooked by mainstream media.

From its base in Chinchilla, Country Caller is providing quality coverage of local events that are of tremendous importance to those regions, though it’s unsurprising to learn it’s also building a following in the Capricorn region, Townsville and Cairns.

Harry’s entry included excellent, incisive coverage of coal seam gas and farming, cultural burning, local government and local social issues. Finishing ahead of a very impressive field of entries, Harry is a clear winner for consistently telling stories about issues important to – and life in – regional Queensland and doing an exemplary job of it.

Country Caller founder Harry Clarke, presented the LGAQ Journalism Award from association president Mark Jamieson. IMAGE: Supplied

About the Award:

Cameraman John Bean, journalist Paul Lockyer and chopper pilot Gary Ticehurst were a pioneering storytelling team with the ABC, popular and respected throughout the regional communities where they did their best work.

Their tragic deaths, 10 years ago last August, sparked dismay in regional leaders who understood the huge contribution the trio made to ensuring regional Queensland was given a voice, locally and in the offices of decision-makers in the city.

The LGAQ commemorates John, Paul and Gary with this annual award, and to encourage journalists  to adopt the doggedness and professionalism for which the three were renowned.

Carrying one of the largest cash prizes on offer in Australian journalism, criteria for judging include newsworthiness, incisiveness, public benefit, and impact on the understanding of the issues and challenges facing regional Queensland.

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