Journalism student Melody Pedler receives her award from John B Fairfax
Journalism student Melody Pedler receives her award from John B Fairfax
27 May 2011

Melody Pedler has become the second UQ student in three years to win the prestigious Fairfax Award for Rural Journalism.

Ms Pedler’s winning entry concerned the impact on agriculture of coal seam mining in rural and regional Queensland, an issue of considerable personal interest after growing up on the family property in Jondaryan, west of Toowoomba.

She was among four finalists flown to Sydney in January to be interviewed by a high-profile panel of media and communications experts, including the award sponsor, retired Fairfax Media board member John B Fairfax AO.

The award includes a scholarship of up to $10,000 and practical work experience at The Queensland Country Life and the media centre at the recent 2011 Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Her article was published in the RAS Times (The Royal Agricultural Society magazine) and an updated version will soon appear in Rural Press publications.

Ms Pedler said she was “overjoyed” when notified of her success.

"I grew up on a grain farm watching my father constantly work to develop more effective and innovative farming practices,” she said.

"Farmers are incredibly committed to their business and I deeply respect how hard they work.

"Sometimes I am amazed by the lack of knowledge people in the city have about the dynamic agricultural industry and the strength of rural communities.

"I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity and in the future I would love to raise awareness about the concerns and issues of rural communities with a metropolitan audience."

UQ graduate Brooke Hargraves won the award as a third-year student in 2008, and is currently a reporter at the Noosa News after two years in Victoria at the Waranambool Standard.

Head of the School of Journalism and Communication Professor Michael Bromley said he and the school’s academic staff were delighted to hear of Ms Pedler’s accomplishment.

“Melody is an excellent student who is highly thought of among the teaching staff here and is also very popular with her student peers,” Professor Bromley said.

“One of the criteria for this award is that entrants must demonstrate an active interest in rural affairs and an interest in pursuing a career in rural journalism upon graduation.

“Melody has spent almost all of her time outside semesters doing work experience at the Dalby Herald and Toowoomba Chronicle, so she certainly fulfils that requirement.”

Ms Pedler said while her media role at the Royal Easter Show was “chaotic”, it had been a fantastic experience.”

“I was able to meet some truly inspiring people and had a long talk with Mr Fairfax who was very friendly and encouraging,” she said.

"I also gained a deeper understanding of how major events are covered and was able to work with a variety of news companies."

Ms Pedler received her award during a formal presentation at the show and met several other award recipients from regional Australia.

Media: Brad Turner at the School of Journalism and Communication (07 3346 8235,