Former Chronicle photographer Alistair Brightman with former editor Nancy Bates at the Queensland Clarion Awards.
Former Chronicle photographer Alistair Brightman with former editor Nancy Bates at the Queensland Clarion Awards.

TOP HONOURS: Chronicle legends take out state awards

TWO of the Chronicle's longest-serving stars have been recognised at the annual Queensland Clarion Awards.

The prestigious journalism awards were held at the weekend.

Former Chronicle editor Nancy Bates received an award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism.

She was nominated by the Chronicle's current editor Jessica Grewal.

The nomination:

Legendary newspaper editor Nancy Dawn Bates this year received an Order of Australia Medal and was named a Queensland Great alongside the best in NRL and the likes of the Morcombes, but she's never been truly recognised by the industry to which she has dedicated her life.

It was, after all, her gift of storytelling and passion for regional journalism and advocacy which helped shape her beloved patch of regional Australia and launched countless careers.

The first female editor of a regional newspaper in Queensland and only the second in Australia at the time, she wrote an estimated 5550 editorials while editor of the Fraser Coast Chronicle (formerly the Maryborough Chronicle).

She successfully campaigned for Queensland laws to be changed, including one which had allowed men to rape their estranged wives, was instrumental in getting the language of the region's traditional owners taught in local schools through the landmark Let's Learn Butchulla series, led the fight to stop major projects like the Traveston Dam from going ahead and was respected and feared in equal measure by politicians from both sides and all levels of government.

An exceptional writer, she had the talent to work for any major news organisation in the world (and many came calling) but her heart was for the community of Maryborough and wider Fraser Coast region. She is the reason why the Fraser Coast is called the Fraser Coast, why Maryborough is known for its Mary Poppins magic and now has a world-class war memorial.

After her 'retirement' in 2009, Nancy continued to use her writing talent and status as a respected voice in journalism to campaign for the recognition of Maryborough son and the first man ashore at Gallipoli, Duncan Chapman, and a better Fraser Coast.

Now in her 70s, she is still a weekly contributor to the Fraser Coast Chronicle, often sending through breaking news but generally, swapping the award-winning investigative pieces of her earlier years for well-told local profiles and pieces which help the community, still grieving the loss of the local print newspaper, stay connected along with being an invaluable mentor to the Chronicle's current editor (and nominator) Jessica Grewal.

She is truly deserving of a place in the journalism hall of fame and it's my great pleasure to honour her with this nomination.

Another star

Former Chronicle photographer Alistair Brightman was also recognised for his stunning work, receiving the award for Best Regional News Photograph.

His photos, titled COVID Couples, was more than just a weather photo, Mr Brightman told the judges.

The photo 'Covid Couples' is nominated for a Queensland Clarion.
The photo 'Covid Couples' is nominated for a Queensland Clarion.

"I took this just on sunset on Torquay Beach in Hervey Bay at the height of the coronavirus pandemic," he wrote in his submission.

"People were allowed out to the beach in pairs, as long as they were seen to be exercising. "This led to a sudden upsurge in late afternoon walkers who were probably enjoying the sunset each day for the first time in a long time.

"Like a human version of Noah's Ark, they were drawn to the setting sun like moths to a flame.

"I timed it to get one or two couples in the shot to start with but then as if by magic several more couples entered the frame.

"Despite the sense of fear the pandemic has brought to the world, this image captures a sense of hope and appreciation for the natural world around us.

"A chance to move away from the electronic influences in our day to day life and enjoy what nature has on show."