Walkley Winners

December 5, 2014 by Henry Benjamin
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Dan Goldberg and Danny Ben-Moshe have won a Walkley for their documentary on child sexual abuse at Melbourne’s Yeshivah, Mark Solomons for an ABC story in Jihadists…and The Australian’s John Lyons and Fairfax Media’s Ruth Pollard have each won a Walkley for reports on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Danny ben-Moshe, Manny Waks and Dan Goldberg

Danny Ben-Moshe, Manny Waks and Dan Goldberg

Dan Goldberg told J-Wire: “It’s a little bittersweet to win this prestigious award; we wish we never had to tell this story. Credit to the ABC, who backed us from the jump, and to  Manny and Zephaniah Waks, who had the courage to blow the whistle despite the consequences.”

The director of the documentary Danny Ben-Moshe told J-Wire: “It a privilege to win the Walkley Award for best documentary, but an even greater privilege is to be entrusted to tell intimate and sensitive stories.  Manny Waks went public with his story of sex abuse to raise the profile of this issue and help bring justice for the victims. I hope the recognition that the Walkley brings will help raise further awareness about this important and often hidden subject. In this age of social media and reality television it is important to remind ourselves that meaningful observational documentaries still have an important place in the media landscape, and broadcasters like the ABC and programs such as Compass are pivotal in enabling this.”

Goldberg and Ben-Moshe won the Walkley for best documentary.

Walkley on the program: Code of Silence is the story of a fight for an investigation into allegations of child sex abuse at an Orthodox Jewish boys’ school in Melbourne. As the case against the abusers continues to make news, the documentary is timely and groundbreaking. Danny Ben-Moshe and Dan Goldberg followed the story for a year from July 2013, the only TV crew to gain access to courtrooms. Manny Waks, the former pupil of the boys’ school who blew the whistle on the rabbis he claimed covered up abuse, left his religion as a result of his abuse, and his orthodox father was shut out by his community. Waks’ perpetrator was jailed, but Waks hopes a royal commission may yet bring to account the rabbis he alleged covered up the abuse.

Judges’ comments: “Code of Silence is a documentary exposure of an Orthodox Jewish family’s distressing struggle to tell the truth about child sexual abuse within a well-known Melbourne boys’ school. The work is exceptional because of the access negotiated with key players as the drama unfolded. It contributes to public understanding of the magnitude of the failure across institutions, both religious and secular, to protect children because of a more dominant reputational defensiveness. Through actuality and interview, the documentary effectively breaks the “code of silence” which had prevailed to cover up abuse in this close-knit community.”

Mark Solomons won his Walkley in the TV/AV news reporting category for three stories produced with Matt Brown for ABC news on jihadists in Syria.

He told J-Wire: “It is very satisfying to be acknowledged by your peers.”

Walkley on the stories:

Mark Solomons

Mark Solomons

Three exclusive stories about Australian jihadists in Syria drew on primary sources in Syria, Turkey and Australia, and blended information from jihadists, Islamists and counter-terrorism officials. The reporters used unconventional techniques to get original materials and back up elusive leads. “Syria death” – telling the story of Australian Caner Temel from his recruitment to his death in a shoot-out in Syria – involved sending a contact with a laptop and 3G modem to a safe house on the Syrian/Turkish border and conducting an interview with a jihadist by Skype video link. “Jihad middleman” exposed the role of an Australian in Turkey funneling recruits into Syria. The reporters drew on confidential sources and local corroboration to confirm a story for which the only attributable source was an unseen court document in Sydney. “Bomber video”, featuring the first broadcast of the final video made by Australia’s only suicide bomber in Syria, revealed for the first time the role of ASIO in denying passports to Australian citizens suspected of trying to travel to fight in Syria.

Judges’ comments: “These eerily prescient reports from Matt Brown and Mark Solomons broke new ground in the story of Australian jihadists who travel to Syria to fight alongside groups like ISIS. The pair drew on information from Islamists both here and in the Middle East, and employed innovative storytelling techniques such as Skype video link interviews to deliver a deeper understanding of one of the year’s most disturbing stories. A well-deserved winner.”

But the Zionist Federation of Australia had something to say about these next two awards…

The Australian’s John Lyons also won a Walkley along with Janine Cohen, Sylvie Le Clezio and Mary Fallon for the joint ABC TV/The Australian Four Corners program “Stone Cold Justice”.

This is what the Walkley and its judges had to say about it:

“John Lyons and Sylvie Le Clezio, based in Jerusalem, have been writing about and photographing Palestinian children before Israel’s military justice system for five years. For this report, they teamed with Four Corners and spent 15 days in the occupied West Bank following the cases of four children to uncover how two systems operate – one for Palestinian children and one for Jewish children. A Palestinian child accused of throwing stones is taken, usually at night and by heavily armed soldiers, not allowed to have a lawyer or parent present at their interrogation, and tried before a military tribunal. An Israeli child is summoned during the day and attends a civil court in Israel.

They examine the case of Fathi Mahfouz, 15, who says he was shackled to a wooden structure for hours until it snapped. They also tell the story of Adele Biton, a three-year-old Jewish girl with brain damage from rocks thrown by Palestinians. The program explained the conflict in human terms and created enormous interest in both Australia and Israel.

John Lyons

John Lyons

Judges’ comments: Four Corners and The Australian delivered a joint investigation that provides a balanced insight into how justice is practised with children of the West Bank. The program reveals there are two legal systems operating – one for Israeli children and one for young Palestinians. Carefully researched and with interviews with key Israelis and Palestinians, reporter John Lyons constructed the program carefully to ensure representation and perspectives from both sides. This was absolutely compelling TV and print journalism.”

Fairfax Media’s Ruth Pollard was the winner in the short feature category for a piece she wrote about Gaza.

Walkley and its judges:

Ruth Pollard  pic: Twitter

Ruth Pollard pic: Twitter

Ruth Pollard spent a day at the morgue in Shifa Hospital in Gaza, capturing both times of noisy high drama and moments of quiet, desperate grief as frightened families, often covered in blood and dust, located and identified their loved ones. She tells the stories of individuals affected by a conflict that is often reported in terms of the daily toll of dead and injured, and shocking footage of whole town blocks razed to the ground. Through the stories of these people’s deaths, Pollard explores the horrifying choices families must make in the midst of air strikes and shelling – to stay in their house or risk a journey through the bombardment and, agonisingly, to stick together or split up. The director of the morgue, Hamdi Khalout, allowed Pollard to shadow him for a day, and became a central part of the story, talking about his fears that one day he will walk into the examination room, open a body bag and find one of his own children.

Judges’ comments: “Ruth Pollard’s feature on the grim day she spent with the director of Shifa morgue is unforgettable. Through her careful observation and vivid description we experience the human side of the Gaza conflict. It is a compelling read, and reflective of the courage Pollard demonstrated in securing access to this war zone morgue and the sensitivity she displayed during her time there. From powerful details to the big picture, this is outstanding, sensitive journalism, beautifully written.”

The ZFA’s president, Dr Danny Lamm has issued the following statement.

“The Zionist Federation of Australia is deeply disappointed that two of the most prestigious prizes in Australian journalism, for feature writing and investigative journalism, have been awarded to Fairfax’s Middle East Correspondent and The Australian’s John Lyons respectively

Pollard was praised for courageous journalism, but there is nothing courageous about a report that was penned in Gaza’s Shifa Hospital but ignored the simple fact that the same hospital has, for a number of years already, been home to Hamas’ de facto headquarters deep in its underground bunkers

Another journalist spent a night in the Shifa Hospital just a few days before Pollard’s article went to print. This journalist reported that Hamas was firing rockets from the car park of the hospital – just one of many aspects about this hospital which Pollard omitted to report.

A more courageous story would have been one which exposed the way in which Hamas intimidated journalists into telling their narrative.

John Lyons and ABC’s 4 Corners were commended for their “balanced insight into how justice in practiced with children of the West Bank. Sadly the basis of Lyons report came from unsubstantiated claims made to the journalist and have now been rehashed by the newspaper a number of times. When a 17-year old walks into a house and murders a family of five, the youngest being a three-month old baby, and then proudly confesses showing no remorse, should he really be considered a minor? The report was neither “balanced” or “insightful”.

There is no doubt that both the war in Gaza and the situation in the West Bank make the region a difficult one to file stories from. It is just a shame that the Walkley judges chose in both instances to reward propaganda instead of true courageous and balanced journalism.”

The Zionist Council of Victoria is headed by Sam Tatarka.

The ZCV issued the following statement: “The Walkley Judges are clearly untroubled by the need for accuracy, context and balanced reporting given their decision to bestow awards on Fairfax’s Ruth Pollard and News Corps’ John Lyons and the team at Four Corners.

The “reporters” had a narrative to sell and any facts that got in the way of that narrative were conveniently ignored.

Pollard’s award was for her piece from the morgue of the Shifa Hospital in Gaza. She and the judges have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the bunker underneath the hospital utilised by Hamas as its headquarters (a clear war crime). The very same hospital whose carpark was being used as a launching pad for Hamas rockets being fired into Israel and whose corridors were full of armed Hamas terrorists. Terrorists who dictated the photos that could be taken and the stories told so as to hide the fact that many of the wounded and killed were in fact terrorists who were engaged in heavy combat with Israeli troops.

Pollard monumentally failed to report other facts such as the blatant use of UN facilities to store weapons and the deliberate diversion of Israeli humanitarian aid in the form of concrete and building supplies destined for schools and hospitals to building tunnels whose sole purpose was to facilitate attacks against Israeli civilians. Her colleagues from Finland managed to film and report on the use of Shifa Hospital as a military base and others from India and Italy had the courage to report on Hamas interference in the news gathering and reporting of the conflict from Gaza but not Pollard. She has failed to set the record straight even when she has had numerous opportunities to do so since she returned to her home in Jerusalem.

Lyons and Four Corners award for the reporting on “children” in the West Bank was similarly flawed as Lyons continues his one eyed campaign against Israel. The fundamental premise of the report is the use of differential systems of justice for Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank. That is a fact however it is a fact that is NOT dictated by Israeli policy but by international Law that prevents Israel from applying its civilian authority to the disputed territories. Lyons also chooses to ignore the fact that many of these so called “children” are in fact youths in their mid to late teens who voluntarily participate in hostile action against Israelis including stone throwing and petrol bombing which has injured, maimed and killed many.

Pollard, Lyons and their fellow travelers have ceased to be reliable observers reporting the news and instead have wittingly became a tool for propaganda. They deserve the opprobrium of those of their colleagues who adhere to the ethics of journalism not the congratulations of what used to be regarded as a prestigious body such as the Walkley panel.







9 Responses to “Walkley Winners”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    This Walkley Award to Ruth Pollard is the icing on the cake. I’d been writing to ‘The Age’ for the last three years about her unprofessional, biassed, emotively-driven articles. And wrote directly to them when I saw she’d been nominated for a Walkley, to tell them that after being an ‘Age’ subscriber for thirty-five years, I had cancelled my subscription to the paper due to the continuing publication of her one-sided opinions. I believe the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ lost a lot of subscribers because of Pollard’s reporting, too. What she chose to leave out of her fantastically contrived pieces was breathtakingly brazen. The way she used emotions through the personae of the Palestinian women, children and youth was nothing short of melodrama, and yet the Walkley judges commend her for her sensitivity and beautiful writing!

    As for the ABC’s ‘Four Corners’ reportage, it beggars belief.

  2. Celina Wines says:

    What an underserving prize for Ruth Pollard.. It was totally biased; a lot of facts were untrue and did not represent the Israeli aspect at all.. Excellent for the Hamas propaganda machine.. Says very little for the Journalists who voted for her, their capacity to inquire and research the truth is near on zero..

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    Onya boys, good reasons to laugh hysterically. Now the whole world knows how Yids truly behave behind those secretive cabals of child molestation religious practices, pretending to be so bloody holly , so consistent with the other well deserved awards for the other despicable Jewish deeds against palestinians children; all in all a comprehensive picture of Jews having it in for children regardless if their own or infant war enemies, just as Manny and his beloved Daddy have been telling us all along !!!

    Ain’t someone up there at the bloody Wakelies “loving” the Keikes , with a little bit of help from OUR friends !!!

    • David Schulberg says:

      I would suggest to Goldberg and Ben-Moshe that they have an opportunity to make a powerful political statement about the Walkleys that Pollard, Lyons and his ABC accomplices have received. I exhort them to return their Walkleys in disgust to a committee that has put deceptive journalistic practices ahead of honesty and integrity.

    • Celina Wines says:

      Otto, what are Yids.. Keikes..and who is Manny???
      I hope that whatever religion you belong to, ‘you’ and ‘they’ are perfect.. You sound pretty ‘sad’…

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Celine, I am only TOO HAPPY to oblige:

        – “Yid” is just another appellative for “Jew”, it is related to another well known word ” Yiddish”, a Jewish language based on old German.

        – “Keik” also refers to Jews it comes from German “circle”. You see, Celine, in the Middle Ages, Jews living in a number of German towns were compelled to wear on the chest side of their garment a yellow patch with a circle drawn, thus identifying them as Jews.
        There is another, I reckon apocryphal, version of “Kike” – American orth. -. When Jews arrived at Connie Island Immigration, they were supposed to register and Immigration Officers would ask them to tick a cross for confirmation against their names. Jews, you see, would not make the sign of the cross and they were told by their fellow migrants ” Macht a keik !!” “Make a circle,( instead)”. From that, the American Immigration officers got the Jews the nickname “Kike”.

        – “Manny”, don’t worry, he’s nobody….

        • Lynne Newington says:

          Another sad piece of history Otto, I’m sure there would be many gentiles who would never have known that.

        • Celina Wines says:

          Thank you Otto,
          It’s good to define what you say, so that everyone understands the terminology..

    • Michael McMahon says:

      Well said Otto.

      Awards seem to be given to any reporter who aim sto hurt our community

      The 2 Dans – should have some pride and throw their award back at the judges

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