It's an ideal for a student internship to involve work of real value, but a group of UTS journalism students made that goal look modest with their Walkley Award-winning collaboration with the Sydney Morning Herald investigations team.
Herald journalists Stuart Washington, Tom Allard, Conrad Walters with the UTS team of six students were named the winners of the Best Digital Journalism award at the 57th Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism in Canberra on 30 November.
They won for the investigative series "Sky's the limit on political gifts", which involved the production of a comprehensive database on political gifts and accompanying in-depth stories.
"The internship program at UTS ensures our best students have the opportunity to work with Australia's best journalists on serious investigations," said undergraduate coordinator of the journalism major Jenna Price.
"These students were handpicked by Stuart Washington and Tom Allard because they had excellent student-level journalistic skills, but the students were also mentored in a way far beyond the majority of most work experience programs."
The team comprised undergraduates Nathan Coates, Nina Young, Lillian Radulova and Frances Mao and MA Journalism students Paolo Hooke and Lawrence Bull.
"The UTS team did the research part of the database on political gifts," Ms Price said. "They went through all the written records and then entered them into an online system devised by the Fairfax Digital team to create a searchable database of political gifts.
"It took the students a couple of months to do all the entries in the database. Then, from the findings, they were able to write stories and have bylines on those stories.
"Stuart Washington told us the students were essential to the project because without the building blocks of entering accurate and clean data, the project would have failed at the first hurdle.
"I cannot think of another media or journalism school whose students have undertaken such a project. We were the first to do this kind of thing, under the leadership of Professor Wendy Bacon, and we continue to do it at a very high standard, as evidenced by this result.
"We are already involved in two more serious collaborative investigations with other publishers."
Team member Paolo Hooke said, "I would like to thank the Sydney Morning Herald and in particular Stuart Washington and Tom Allard for the opportunity to take part in such a fantastic project.
"I am pleased to have been involved in this important collaboration with the Herald, which turned public but inaccessible hard copy data about federal politicians' pecuniary interests into a searchable online database, allowing readers to hold our elected representatives to account."
UTS journalism students were also successful at the annual Ossie Student Journalism Awards run by the Journalism Education Association of Australia, see here for more.