APN reporter awarded for 'powerful work' on asylum seekers

Vani Naidoo wins regional feature at the 2013 Clarion Awards.
Vani Naidoo wins regional feature at the 2013 Clarion Awards. Rae Wilson

THE tale of one asylum seeker's family making the desperate journey to Australia humanised the plight of many in a way that caught the attention of Queensland Clarion award judges.

They described APN Newsdesk reporter Vani Naidoo's feature on why asylum seekers risk everything as deeply powerful work.

"Her clear and concise construction draws the readers in, telling a story without resorting to emotive language," the judges said.

"Her piece was a year ahead of its time with the larger publications only just exploring the personal stories of refugees.

"This work would sit comfortably in any major publication."

Vani took out the regional feature of the year while APN Newsdesk colleague Ava Benny-Morrison was a finalist in the regional news report category for "hospital hostages.

Her work explored a Mackay brain injury patient's plight to find suitable accommodation in the community.

Rockhampton Morning Bulletin photographer Allan Reinikka took out the regional and community news photographer category with a flood series.

The judges said Mr Reinikka's pictures were a stand-out example of the news photographer craft.

"He captured the raw emotion and courage of emergency personnel performing a swift water rescue of a Rockhampton teenager during the second wettest day on record," judges said.

Mr Reinikka said he captured the photos as he followed the frantic voices on the police scanner.

"The photos were taken as I raced and stumbled along the wet banks littered with fallen tree branches as one of the swift water rescuers was dragged along in the water and the rain continued to pelt us all," he said.

Queensland Times photographer Claudia Baxter was also a finalist in the category for her Thorn Street Fire photos.

The Fraser Coast Chronicle's Valerie Horton won the sports photography category for her entry Football in Spite of Rain.

The judges said Ms Horton turned a football photo into an iconic image of struggle against the elements as players confronted each other in a regional rugby league match.

"A season of covering the games in gumboots meant it was business as usual for this Saturday night game," Ms Horton said.

"Timing is everything. To capture an arresting moment in sport is a thrill that I will never tire of."

The chronicle's Alistair Brightman was also a finalist in the photographic essay category for his Urangan Pier photos.

There were a record 480 entries in the 2013 Clarion Awards.

APN Newsdesk national affairs reporter Daniel Burdon was named a finalist in the Local Government Association of Queensland regional awards for his work on issues at the Gladstone port.

The winner, who will receive the generous $15,000 prize, will be announced at the LGAQ conference in October.



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