A detailed multimedia examination of a Sydney fire last year that gutted a historic former hat factory has won the inaugural Central News Media Prize.

ABC News’s ‘Razed’ took home the prize, beating out finalists from Crikey & ITV (‘Feeding Insecurity’), TikToker Jordie van den Berg (‘#ShitRentals’), The Australian Financial Review columnist Joe Aston’s series on the national airliner (‘Qantas’ Comeuppance’), and Stephanie March’s ABC Foreign Correspondent episode (‘Before the War’).

Written, developed and produced by Harriet Tatham, Catherine Hanrahan, Jack Fisher, Katia Shatoba and Julia Feder, ‘Razed’ used a combination of 3D animation, firsthand accounts, parallax scrolling, archival photos and video footage from the scene to create an immersive and comprehensive report, that took readers on a journey through the destroyed building.

Fisher and Shatoba accepted the award at a ceremony at the Abercrombie Hotel last night.

“What made this story different was we were able to situate a lot of footage that we had from mobile phones and other cameras, both on the day the building burnt down and also throughout history,” Fisher said. “We were able to situate that in 3-dimensional space with a model that we built of the building.

“We’re really glad it was able to inspire some journalism students at UTS, because it’s exactly the sort of story that you really hope to be able to have the chance to pour your time into when you are a student.”

Student judges Suhayla Sharif, Jonathan Weitz-Freeman and Pamela Rontziokis, all media ward winners themselves in different national competitions, praised the winning entry.

“The piece is highly engaging and does really well in providing a contextual foundation as it invites readers to explore the ‘why’, not just the ‘what’,” Sharif said, “(It’s) an excellent example of when a thoughtfully structured piece is paired with the magic of digital storytelling, making breaking news timeless.”

The 1st CN Media Prize, nominated and selected by students at the University of Technology Sydney, was initiated by Central News in 2023 to recognise Australia’s exceptional journalism and dedication towards impactful storytelling from the eyes and ears of the future generation of journalists.

Over the past year, FASS students put forward entries that included news stories, features, investigations, and media productions that they believed were quality journalism, whether by mainstream outlets or independent journalists. The winner was then determined from the top 5 nominees by a panel of students, that included media prize editors Ayesha Baig and Rex Siu.


The Media Prize trophy designed and 3D-printed by UTS’s ProtoSpace.

A unique winning trophy of UTS’s iconic brutalist main tower with a plant growing out of the top of it, was designed at UTS’s ProtoSpace lab and 3D printed.

Attendees on the night included industry guests from the ABC, Mumbrella, Telum Media and the Daily Mail, as well as the Dean of FASS Professor Alan Davison and Centre for Media Transition co-director Monica Attard.

The night, hosted by student project manager Lucas Tan, also included faculty awards, compiled by lecturer Cisco Corea, for students who had excelled in subjects in 2023, as well as best practice awards for students publishing in Central News.

Head of Journalism Professor Saba Bebawi presented FASS student awards, and said: “[Students are] constantly being recognised by external organisations, but there is something to be said about us internally recognising [their] outstanding accomplishments.

“We aim to have this every year, grow it bigger and bigger… [and keep on] recognising future generations.”

The Central News Awards, which were presented by the site’s editor-in-chief and lecturer, Martin Newman, were handed out to students exemplified best practice in their reporting.

Pranav Harish won the ‘Tour de Force’ award, given to the student who used the most sources in their work. Harish had interviewed nine experts for a story on whether TikTok was a security threat or not.

Jess D’Souza was given the ‘Go Hard or Go Home’ award for her tough questioning of visiting VIP Liz Allen, the US Under-Secretary of State during a mock White House press conference

‘A League of One’s Own’, which recognised the student who had covered the most stories, was awarded to Seb Tan for his prolific sports writing.

“He’s published more sport stories than anyone else over the past year, and has definitely improved from his first story, which was a 1400 word blow-by-blow of a Souths v Parramatta game,” said Newman.

Nick Newling won the ‘Party Animal’ award for his prolific networking for political stories and interviews, which included reporting on federal and state elections, the Voice to Parliament, and interviewing names like Zali Steggall.

Bethany Alvaro took home the ‘Fast Learner’ award for her all-round reporting and ability to quickly familiarise herself with diverse topics to explain them properly to readers, which included explainers on everything from the Israel-Palestine conflict to Taylor Swift.

The ‘Leader of the Pack’, an award recognising a student’s ability to analyse the news cycle and get ahead of it, was given to Sasha Foot, who uncovered a shortage of female GPs in bulk billing practices and also exposes MPs huge property holdings which conflicted with their ability to tackle the housing crisis. Her investigation into MPs properties preceded the same story being picked up by major news organisations several months later.

A team award, ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’, was given to a collective of 18 students who had covered the Voice to Parliament referendum last year and its build-up, which included various stories, live reporting on the day of the vote, running information sessions and handing out fact sheets, as well as an extensive poster campaign in both English and Chinese.

A full list of the award recipients are as follows:

Faculty Awards

Best Documentary: Annabel Kitto

Best Photojournalism: James Wilson

Best Podcast: Lara Badr

Best Multi-Media Feature: Jessica O’Bryan (Undergrad), Erin Hee (PostGrad)

Best Data Journalism Story: James Wagner

Best International Story: Olek Novak, Abha Haval, Shivam Sehgal (Group, Post-Grad)

Best Entrepreneurial Project: Olek Novak

Best Research Essay: Rebecca Georges (Ethics)

Best Digital Story: Zaryab Ahmad


Central News Best Practice Awards

Most sources: Pranav Harish

Hardest questions: Jess D’Souza

Best networker: Nick Newling

Jack of all trades: Bethany Alvaro

Best group work: Voice Team campaign: Christine Lee, Lilas-Mae Njoo, Michelle Deng, Jess O’Bryan, Tamar Pilobisian, Jonathan Weitz-Freeman, Tallas Lynch, Ike Morris, Bethany Conlon, Rex Siu, Chris Lo, Shaun Dourado, Nick Newling, Mia Rankin, Ella Mullins, Jess D’Souza, Elektra Politis and Michaela Cullen.

Anticipating the news cycle: Sasha Foot

Most stories: Seb Tan

Main image of Media Prize winners Katia Shatoba and Jack Fisher from the ABC Team. Photo: Charlie Johnston.