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Changing of the Rural Guard at the Advertiser (March 2017)

Following a forty year career in writing about the Australian agricultural sector, including 27 years at News Corporation, The Advertiser’s Rural Editor Nigel Austin decided late last year that it was time to leave behind the world of daily newspaper journalism.

His new direction in life is now the pursuit of a long-held dream to focus full-time on continuing his authorship of books focused on country Australia.

In leaving The Advertiser, Nigel said his career in the newspaper industry had been a truly interesting and fulfilling one, providing ample opportunity to meet an array of wonderful people.

Nigel Austin started writing about rural Australia at the Melbourne based Stock and Land publication in 1977 and since that time, there were few parts of the country that he didn’t visit.  His travels, many articles and the various books he wrote gave Nigel a rare insight into the lives of the people of rural Australia.

He won numerous national writing awards including the Henry Lawson Award, the Dalgety Farmers Award and various media awards in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Nigel also considered himself to have been fortunate to be awarded several overseas study scholarships to the United States, Japan and the European Union during his career.

As one of the longest serving rural journalists in Australia, Nigel Austin’s time in the industry provided inspiration to many.  In return, he expressed gratitude for the personal support received from Australian farmers and the rural sector in general.

Replacing Nigel Austin as The Advertiser and Sunday Mail’s Rural Editor has been award winning reporter, Belinda Willis.  Growing up in the Riverland and with a media career spanning over twenty years, her background was as senior business and environment reporter, including stints with the BBC and Discovery Networks.

Belinda Willis had also been media adviser to a former federal environment minister.

A highlight of her career was a high commendation in the prestigious Walkley Awards’ “best suburban, country or rural report category”.

Former Advertiser Rural Editor, Nigel Austin

SA Rural Journalist named Best Rural Broadcast Journalist in Australia (Feb 2017)

2016 SA Rural Journalist of the Year, Cassandra Steeth of ABC Rural Radio at Mount Gambier has been named by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists as the Best Rural Broadcast Journalist in Australia.

In addition to competing against other radio entries from throughout Australia, Cassandra’s story had to compete against winning entries from the television and online awards.

As part of her prize, Cassandra will travel to South Africa and represent Australia at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists’ (IFAJ) Awards in April.

Cassandra’s winning radio story, “Reluctant Hunters” focused on the feral deer problem in the South East of SA. In addition to being broadcast locally in the SE, Cassandra’s story was aired to a national audience on ABC Radio National’s “Off Track” program.

ABC Rural Radio's Cassandra Steeth in December 2016, after being named the SA Rural Journalist of the Year

Deanna Lush awarded a Churchill Fellowship (Feb 2017)

Former editor of the Stock Journal and current principal of agricultural communications firm, AgCommunicators, Deanna Lush has just been awarded a Churchill Fellowship.

Deanna’s Fellowship will permit her to investigate communication, education and engagement methods to improve understanding of agriculture across the community.  It will take her to Canada, USA and UK.

Deanna Lush in her role as Rural Photography Award Judging Panel Chair, providing comments at the 2016 Awards

Every year as part of a national program, up to twelve South Australians are selected to receive Churchill Fellowships.  Worth an average of more than $25,000 each, these Fellowships create unique opportunities for ordinary Australians to travel independently anywhere in the world and explore a topic or issue they are passionate about.

Importantly, applicants do not need any specific qualifications and the Fellowships are not about formal academic study.  Unlike many other scholarship programs, they also offer considerable flexibility in terms of timing and duration.

In 2017, the Churchill Trust is making a particular push to encourage more applications from rural and regional sectors.  As hundreds of South Australians like Riverland citrus grower Ian Tolley, agricultural consultant Bill Long, cheese-maker Gina del Santo, rural communicator and author Liz Harfull and Bordertown farmer Roger Groocock can already attest, receiving a Fellowship really does open the door to a life-changing experience.

To find out more, people are invited to attend a free information session being held in Adelaide on Monday, February 20, 2017, at the Thebarton Community Centre, corner of South Rd and Ashwin Parade, Torrensville, from 6.00 – 8.00pm.  This information session will provide potential applicants with all they need to know to build a strong application.

To register visit Eventbrite.

More information is also available at or contact President of the SA Chapter of the Churchill Fellows Association, Graeme Adcock direct by email at / phone 0434 078 545.

Applications for the next round of Fellowships open on February 28 and close April 28, 2017.

While the Trust encourages people to apply via its online form, rural applicants with limited broadband access are invited to fax or email their applications.


Golden canola a gleaming photo winner (Feb 2017)

A humorous touch up with a yellow paintbrush in a field of golden canola has been selected as Australia’s best in a prestigious rural photo contest.

Multi-award winning Adelaide Advertiser photographer Tait Schmaal captured the image of a happy South Australian farmer trying to improve on Mother Nature.  The Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists Rural Photography Award carries $1,000.00 prize money for the winner and entry into the World Star Prize Competition.

The world award will be decided at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists 2017 Congress to be held in South Africa in April.

Judges said the winning Australian entry was a well-crafted image telling a great story.  The photographer showed well considered composition and lighting skills. The canola photo was selected from a strong field of finalists submitted by Australia’s state-based rural press clubs.

Australia's Best: Tait Schmaal's winning photograph

The judging panel this year comprised Fiona Harding, Townsville Bulletin, Mike Dugdale, Geelong Advertiser and last year’s Australian winner Dean Martin, from the Adelaide Advertiser.

The top photos in each of three categories – people, production and nature/landscape – all go on to represent Australia in the world contest.

Tait Schmaal’s photo took out the production category before being judged overall winner.  Another South Australian photographer, Jacqui Bateman from the Stock Journal, won the people category with a photo of naked shearer Daniel Telfer.

Equality in the Shearing Shed - Man and beast shed their fleeces: Jacqui Bateman's winning photo of SE shearer, Daniel Telfer

This was shot as a humorous riposte to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals which campaigns against the use of wool with nude models.

The nature/landscape category was won by Scott Radford-Chisholm from the Townsville Bulletin. A line of lambs were snapped at sunset following the property owner on Eldorado Station.

The chair of the Rural Media SA judging panel Ms. Deanna Lush joined SA ACAJ Representative and RMSA Vice President Dale Manson in congratulating the two South Australian winners Tait and Jacqui.  “This is a national competition and once again South Australian rural photographers have been well recognised. It says a lot about the skills of the photographers we have in South Australia."


Leigh Radford honoured as an Icon of Rural Media (Dec 2016)

Leigh Radford was recently honoured by Rural Media SA and his peers when he was bestowed the rare honour of being inducted to the status of “Rural Media Icon”.

Within the industry of rural media, there are individuals who are held in admiration for their high level of professionalism, long term dedication and passion for communicating rural issues.  Leigh Radford is widely considered to be one of these people.  Rural Media South Australia recognises only the most outstanding within the rural media sector through their elevation to the status of “Rural Media Icon”.

Leigh Radford’s meritorious contribution to the craft of rural journalism has been over a career spanning nearly three decades.  Rural Media SA bestowed Leigh with its highest honour due to his exceptional life as a working rural journalist, the fostering of careers for other rural journalists, the enormous opportunities he has pioneered & opened up for others, his unwavering commitment to rural and his numerous back-room roles in ensuring the highest quality in ethical media reporting, production & management.

Leigh Radford is an integral component of a four-generation long dynasty of the Radford family’s involvement in the media.  He is the most senior member of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s executive management team to have ever been based in Adelaide and manages the largest rural media broadcast group in the world, in addition to overseeing the longest continually running rural broadcast program ever seen.

His management of the ABC rural broadcast group and the Country Hour are the envy of every country with an interest in agricultural communication.  Through his senior role with the ABC, Leigh has strived tirelessly to make ABC Rural relevant to capital city listeners, bridging the urban-rural divide.

On behalf of the entire rural media sector across Australia, Leigh sits on the committee of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, often travelling overseas to represent our national interests and assist with the further development of rural media in countries not as fortunate as Australia.  He also runs the World Rural Broadcast Awards on behalf of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists

In September, Leigh was awarded the status of Honorary Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation in recognition of exceptional service and commitment to rural and regional

Leigh Radford is not only an icon of the local rural media sector, but also internationally.

Rural Media Icon, Leigh Radford (centre), with RMSA President, Ian Doyle (left) and RMSA Vice President, Dale Manson (right)

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:

2017 Meetings

Friday 8 December 2017

2017 Telstra and Rural Business Support Rural Media Awards
RMSA Christmas Function

(Luncheon 12.00 noon for 12.30 pm)
(Members Banquet Room, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)

2018 Meetings

Thursday 6 September 2018

2018 RMSA Rural Bank Royal Show Breakfast
(Breakfast 7.00 am for 7.30 am)
(Members Banquet Room, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)

Friday 7 December 2018

2018 Telstra and Rural Business Support Rural Media Awards
RMSA Christmas Function

(Luncheon 12.00 noon for 12.30 pm)
(Members Banquet Room, Adelaide Showground, Wayville)