Age and Herald reporters win big at Health Journalism Awards

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The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have won more than half of the awards on offer at the National Press Club’s Excellence in Health Journalism Awards in Canberra.

Investigative journalist Adele Ferguson was named Health Journalist of the Year alongside the ABC’s Chris Gillett for this masthead’s joint investigation with ABC’s 7.30 into Medicare fraud. She also took home the health policy award.

Investigative journalist Adele Ferguson has been named Australian Health Journalist of the Year.Credit: Janie Barrett

Liam Mannix, this masthead’s national science writer, won the COVID-19 prize for his detailed reporting on long COVID and those still at-risk from the disease.

With two category wins and one overall prize, this masthead won three of the five health journalism awards handed out. The two other category prizes were for health innovation and cancer reporting.

Ferguson’s award-winning Medicare reporting exposed suspected fraud, overservicing and other misconduct in Australia’s universal healthcare system and led to Health Minister Mark Butler launching a formal review. It found Medicare was haemorrhaging up to $3 billion a year in waste.

The judges unanimously declared Ferguson’s story was the stand-out entry.

Liam Mannix (left), winner of the COVID-19 category of the Excellence in Health Journalism Awards.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“This was a great honour to win. It was a controversial series of stories that revealed that our universal healthcare system is no longer fit for purpose,” Ferguson said.

“It started a national debate about the urgent need for Medicare reform. The ball is now in the government’s court to fix it.”

Ferguson was unable to attend the Canberra ceremony in person, but Mannix collected his prize at the National Press Club on Tuesday.

“I think this award is vindication of this masthead’s continual investment in health and science reporting – during the pandemic and now. We’re the best in the business,” Mannix said.

“We have the biggest science team in print – three reporters across the country. And that lets us dig deep into the issues.”

National editor David King congratulated Ferguson for her award-winning journalism.

“Once again, Adele’s reporting has exposed flaws in the operation of one of our nation’s most important institutions,” he said.

Adele Ferguson accepts her Health Journalist of the Year award via a video message with Health Minister Mark Bulter (right) watching on.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“These awards recognise the impact and significance of her exposé into Medicare fraud. Her work, in the face of vocal criticism, has already resulted in major reviews and will hopefully lead to much-needed change.”

Liam Mannix’s Examine newsletter explains and analyses science with a rigorous focus on the evidence. Sign up to get it each week.

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