Fairfax Media’s Adele Ferguson has secured two separate nominations as a finalist in the business category of the prestigious Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism
Both Ms Ferguson’s nominations stem from her tenacious reporting on scandals in the financial planning sector.
Ms Ferguson was nominated together with Deb Masters and Mario Christodoulou, for her Four Corners ABC TV and Fairfax Media series titled: “Banking Bad”, “Rollo Sherriff and Meridien Wealth”, “Misconduct claims widen in CBA’s planning scandal”.Four Corners/Fairfax Media investigation forced the bank to apologise and announce a $250 million-plus compensation scheme. It also triggered an overhaul of the corporate regulator and wholesale changes to the financial planning industry. A royal commission was called citing their revelations.”Sydney Morning Herald and The Age titled: “Macquarie Group financial planning scandal”, “Macquarie’s bombshell a call to arms”, “Cheating rife in financial planning”
“The Macquarie Group financial scandal revealed how tens of thousands of Australians were deliberately misclassified as “sophisticated” investors, leaving them exposed to high-risk, high-fee Macquarie products. Ferguson and Butler found sources and trawled through court records and documents to expose not only a rotten corporate culture but also the financial havoc inflicted on many customers,” the judges citation said.
Rounding out Fairfax Media’s domination of the award this year was the nomination of Nabila Ahmed, Sue Mitchell and James Chessell, of The Australian Financial Review, for their stories on ructions at the nation’s biggest department stores titled: “Myer, DJs merger proposed just before directors’ trade”, “DJs chairman must step down”, “Mason to purge DJs board”
The judging citation read: “Breaking the news that two of Australia’s most iconic companies had engaged in merger talks was a classic scoop. In their reporting, however, The AFR team also uncovered serious issues of corporate governance that led to the resignation of the chairman and two directors of David Jones.”
Group director news and business at Fairfax Media Sean Aylmer said the haul demonstrated Fairfax’s leadership in financial reporting.
“The crisis in confidence in financial planning has become one of the defining issues in our economy and Adele’s dogged thorough prosecution of this issue, working with some of the best news teams in the business, has put it at the heart of policy debate,” he said.
Mr Aylmer said The Australian Financial Review’s repeated scoops over share trading at David Jones underscored that masthead’s ability to get the truly inside workings of corporate Australia.
The Walkley judges were asked to select finalists from more than 40 entries, and said this year’s entries demonstrated the value of business journalism done well.
“Tenacious, forensic, entertaining, powerful, everything good reporting should involve,” the panel said. “It was also fascinating to see the innovation that is driving and improving our craft.”
The winners of the 59th Walkley Awards will be announced on Thursday, December 4.
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