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RMSA journalist members benefit from IFAJ Africa experience (June 2015)

Two RMSA members recently returned from an International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) professional development tour of the African country, Zambia.

SA Country Hour presenter, Caroline Winter and NT based ABC journalist Kristy O’Brien competed with rural journalists from across Australia to be awarded positions on the Exposure-4-Development media tour of Zambia during May.  The tour offered the opportunity for journalists to have a first-hand look at farm issues in the developing world, looking beyond the images of hunger and poverty and exploring a range of initiatives and opportunities.

As part of their application process, both journalists had to provide a pitch on what their four focus stories would be based on the itinerary.

While the two rural journalists had to fund their own airfares to Africa and contribute 300 Euros, the IFAJ provided all accommodation, internal travel, meals, tours and media opportunities during the unique week-long experience.

Caroline Winter

  Kristy O'Brien



South Australian Rural Journalists win ACAJ Star Prize Awards (June 2015)

Two South Australian rural journalists have won their respective categories in the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists’ national 2015 Star Prize Awards.

Kerry Staight’s ABC Landline story titled, “Bitter Harvest” was announced as the winner of the “ACAJ 2015 Star Prize Award – Television”.  Filmed in South Australia and Victoria, this 22 minute investigative story was originally broadcast on ABC Television in March last year.

A thorough investigation into the profitability of the whole wine industry, Kerry found the issue was very tricky to get to the bottom of because the industry tended to be quite fragmented and often reluctant to talk candidly.  However by interviewing a range of growers, industry bodies, winemakers and retailers at length, she managed to shed more light than most on the true state of the industry and the challenges and opportunities ahead.

In a second coup for local rural journalists, ABC rural radio journalist, Lauren Waldhuter was announced as the winner of the “ACAJ 2015 Star Prize Award – Online” with a fine piece of web based journalism in a story titled, “Future of virus-affected canola still unknown”.

Initially published online in July last year, this story broke the news to the world that an outbreak of Beet Western Yellows virus had been discovered in South Australian canola crops.  The SA disease outbreak was eventually described as the worst in the world and Lauren’s story conveyed the uncertainty many farmers and scientists felt at that time, coupled with the wider impact the virus was having.

Both Kerry and Lauren’s stories originally formed part of their winning portfolios of journalism work in RMSA’s 2014 Rural Business Support Rural Media Awards.  View Kerry Staight’s winning Landline story at, while Lauren Waldhuter’s winning online story can be viewed at


Tricia’s ‘Strawberry Patch’ photo a national winner (June 2015)

A happy snap of a family picking strawberries is the winner of the 2015 Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography.

The delightful moment captured by Adelaide Advertiser photographer, Tricia Watkinson wins a $1,000 cash prize from the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) which coordinates the prestigious annual award.

Judges described the photo of a father and his two young daughters filling their basket with luscious fruit at Hahndorf as a beautiful image.  It showed excellent composition and technical skill, while at the same time capturing the emotional family connection.

The winning entry was chosen from a strong field of finalists submitted by rural press clubs around Australia.

The best photos in each of three categories – people, production and nature/landscape – will now represent Australia in the World Star Prize contest to be judged at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists’ 2015 World Congress in New Zealand in October.

The strawberry photo was selected as the winner in the production category and was originally part of Tricia Watkinson’s winning portfolio in RMSA’s 2014 Rural Business Support Rural Media Awards.

Another Adelaide Advertiser photographer, Tait Schmaal entered the winning nature/landscape pic, a dramatic view of a bushfire at Bangor.  Fire fighters and vehicles are gathered in the foreground with a water bombing helicopter circling overhead.

Photos by both Tricia Watkinson and Tait Schmaal were selected by a three-member panel of award-winning photographers and submitted in the national contest by Rural Media South Australia.


RMSA Fellowship to attend IFAJ Pre-Congress Tour in Cairns (June 2015)

Rural Media SA is offering a Fellowship to a young Rural Journalist to attend the upcoming International Federation of Agricultural Journalists’ (IFAJ) Pre-Congress Tour in Cairns.

Themed “Hot Tropics 2015 - Farming Australia's Far North” and jointly organised by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) and the Queensland Rural Press Club, the IFAJ Pre-Congress Tour will run from 8th-12th October 2015.  It will be followed by the IFAJ World Congress in New Zealand, commencing on 14th October.

RMSA’s Fellowship will fund the $1,300 Pre-Congress Tour registration fee of one Rural Journalist.  The recipient needs to fund their flight to Cairns and homeward flight from either Sydney or Auckland.

A Pre-Congress Tour with a difference, “Hot Tropics 2015” will offer a chance to experience one of the world’s most advanced tropical agriculture regions set in a renowned tourist playground.  Attendees will be able to see first-hand how a major commercial agriculture sector not only coexists, but thrives in a pristine natural environment, from tropical rainforest jungle to the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.  Working journalists will be assured of some great stories and photographs to take home during an unforgettable visit.

“Hot Tropics 2015” spends the initial three days in far north Queensland, then transports participants to Sydney for two nights.  The registration fee includes an onward flight to New Zealand on 13th October to join the IFAJ World Congress, or participants can depart for home direct from Sydney.

All expenses during the Pre-Congress Tour are included in the registration fee, including single room accommodation at the Novotel Oasis Resort in Cairns, flights from Cairns to Sydney/Auckland and single room accommodation at Rydges World Square Hotel whilst in Sydney.

To be eligible for the RMSA Fellowship, rural journalists must be 30 years or younger.  Expressions of interest, including brief bio and 400 word max outline of personal development benefits must be received by RMSA Secretary, Bob Snewin ( via email by Friday 3rd July 2015.


VALE - Dick James (April 2015)

VALE Dick James – Rural Journalist

In 2010, Rural Media SA inducted Dick James as a Rural Media Icon.

Dick James died recently after failing to recover from a heart operation. He was 77 years old. He was one of the ‘old school’ scribes. He was proudly a rural journalist for most of his working life. He was still on the books at the Stock Journal up to his death.

Dick started at what is now the Stock Journal on January 4th 1954. At that time, the publication was known as the Adelaide Stock & Station Journal. He worked in the classified and auction advertisement section for a short time, prior to taking on a role of assisting the advertising manager in the display advertisement dept.

Just prior to Dick’s seventeenth birthday, the advertising manager took two weeks annual leave and Dick was given the responsibility of handling his work during his absence. It wasn't long before Dick was invited to start his career in rural journalism as a cadet. Three years later, they gave Dick the title of Field Representative and at age 24, he was handed his first managerial role as assistant editor - in 1964.

Dick was appointed editor of the Stock Journal in 1976 and was managing editor from 1985-1987 …when in Dick’s words ‘I was shown the door’ …but five months later he was invited back to the Stock Journal to take over as livestock editor on a contract basis. Dick relinquished that role in late 2001 to provide an opportunity to a younger journalist.

Dick remained a working journalist until his so called retirement in July 2003, but continued to be on the Stock Journal’s books as a casual journalist until a week before his death.  Dick reckoned RMSA was hard up in 2003, following his so-called retirement, when we offered to lightly roast him at a dinner in his honour.  He felt his topic could have been anything from …’I almost made a half ton’ to ‘Bastards I have met’. Dick was like that.

RMSA definitely wasn’t hard up for guest speakers. We believed as one of the last of the rural scribes of his era, we should give Dick a gentle ‘roast’ and hear some of his thoughts on his years in the business - and also recognize his lifelong contribution to rural journalism in SA.  Dick was part of the rural newspaper business in South Australia from hot metal to Microsoft …and he reported on some of the most interesting and controversial rural stories in SA over that time.

His specialist field towards the end of his career was the livestock industry and he’s had a close working relationship with many of South Australia’s breed societies.  Because of Dick’s obvious specialisation in livestock reporting as a rural journalist, he judged both stud and commercial stock over the years, as well as opening several of the major stud sales in SA. 

Dick also served as Executive Officer of Merinos SA for a number of years.

Dick enjoyed his sport. He was proud of the fact that at his three chosen sports - football, cricket and lawn bowls - he was able to reach A grade standard - football with North Adelaide, cricket with Walkerville and lawn bowls with Lockleys.

Dick is survived by his wife Wendy and their two sons - Anthony and Matthew.

Dick James’s remarkable rural journalism career spanned 60 years.  VALE Dick James.


Upcoming meetings

Rural Media South Australia aims to provide a genuine focus for rural issues, combined with a forum for networking between the highest levels of agribusiness, government, media and rural producers.

Members and guests are encouraged to note the following dates in their diaries:

2015 Meetings

Monday 20 July 2015

RMSA Annual General Meeting
6.00 pm (Followed by complimentary cocktails & nibbles)
(Board Room, Administration Building, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)

Thursday 10 September 2015

2015 Royal Show Breakfast
(Breakfast 7.00 am for 7.30 am)
(Members’ Banquet Room, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)

Late October 2015 (Precise date to be notified)

Special RMSA Meeting & Induction of 2015 Rural Media Icon
(Adelaide Showground, Wayville)

Friday 11 December 2015

2015 SA Rural Media Awards
(Luncheon 12.00 noon for 12.30 pm)
(Members’ Banquet Room, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)