Controversy over ACRAs news award

A Sydney Morning Herald report by Andrew Hornery in the PS gossip column alleges there was a conflict of interest in the judging of the ACRAs News Award category.

The report quotes retired senior journalist Lloyd Jones, one of the judges of that category, saying it is “farcical” that another judge in that category, Jason Morrison, is married to the winner, Heidi Tiltins.

“How can there be no conflict of interest when the judge is married to the winner? I raised this issue at the start of the process when I learnt Morrison was going to be judging the award. I have brought it up again and again with Commercial Radio and Audio, but absolutely nothing has been done about it.

“This is a journalism award, good journalism is about impartiality.” Jones told the Herald. He says he will not be judging the awards again.

Responding to the criticism, Jason Morrison has told radioinfo the story is motivated by unfair assumptions and that he did not know who or how many other people were on the judging panel.

Like most awards now, the ACRAs are judged via an online voting system where each judge is only aware of the entries they are required to judge and does not know how many judges there are or what score any other judges awarded.

Morrison, who has judged the awards for many years without incident, told radioinfo: “I had no idea who else was on this latest panel and nor was I interested, given the people are selected by Commercial Radio for their experience and knowledge of the business.”

Jones is quoted in the Herald article saying: “I hate to admit it, but no newsreader has ever been judged a perfect 10.” 

radioinfo asked Morrison if he awarded 10 to his wife or to any other entrants.

“Seeing you ask about giving people ’10’ – without being specific, I’ve done it often. When you’re faced with the choice of five great finalists – it’s important to make it clear and rank who you think is the best to least best choice. That’s what the process is about – much like any voting system,” said Morrison.

A CRA spokesperson has told radioinfo:

“The judging panels for the Australian Commercial Radio Awards are comprised of highly qualified and respected experts in their field.  Judges are expected to perform their duties with integrity, impartiality and confidentiality to ensure a fair process for everyone involved. 

“The judging rules do not prohibit judging of entries by family members.  We will be reviewing the judging process and criteria for 2023 to ensure the event is reflective of industry standards and expectations.“

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