The story, which highlighted the Palaszczuk Government’s lengthy delays on addressing the crisis, was published on May 31. You can read it here.
Ten days later the Premier announced the formation of a timber advisory panel, a body of experts and industry stakeholders assembled to chart the sector’s sustainable future amid growing demand.
While the timing of the announcement may have been coincidence, judges who assessed Cooper’s story as part of the Queensland Rural Press Club’s Media Awards, agreed that anyone reading the narrative could never doubt that a lack of government will was “stifling progress”.
“The story demonstrated comprehensive analysis, communicated efficiently and effectively, while harnessing a range of relevant viewpoints to allow the reader to understand the issue, while also experiencing the deeper connected issues such as natural resource shortages versus sustainability concerns,” the judges said.
Cooper’s entry won the print category of the awards, with Queensland Country Life journalist Sally Gall named as runner-up.
The major award, Queensland Rural Journalist of the Year, went to ABC Landline presenter Pip Courtney.
Timber Queensland CEO Mick Stephens congratulated Cooper on the award, adding it was worthy recognition for a topic often under-reported.
“Obtaining fair and objective coverage is integral to the reputation and growth of our industry and imperative for the work of any industry association,” Stephens said.
“Brad’s willingness to listen, learn, question and skilfully deliver a truthful and balanced summary of issues confronting Queensland’s forest and timber industry has benefitted the readers of InQueensland and delivered a great result for him.”
It is the fourth time Cooper has won the Rural Press Club award, having previously won in 2005, 2006 and 2007, before he moved into editor and senior executive roles with his former employer, Fairfax Media (now Australian Community Media).
Since returning to frontline journalism with InQueensland in 2020, Cooper has relished the opportunity to delve deeply into the issues driving and confronting rural and regional Queensland.
Last year at the same awards he was highly commended for a series of stories on rural health.
“InQueensland’s approach to well-balanced, highly developed and intelligent journalism has definitely been a huge factor for me to get back on the tools,” Cooper said.
“In rural journalism, it’s often said there’s a story under every gum leaf, and that’s certainly true when you’re reporting on a state as big and dynamic as Queensland.”
Cooper’s story now progresses to a national final in Canberra in January, assessed by a judging panel formed by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists.
If the entry is successful in Canberra, it then progresses to an international final as part of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists’ annual conference, which will be held in Denmark in June.
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