Aussie young journalist selected for global leadership program

Lydia Burton. Image: ABC

Australia has once again produced internationally-lauded agricultural journalism talent, with the ABC’s Northern Territory Country Hour’s Lydia Burton selected as one of just 10 young journalists globally to receive a leadership award.

The Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) selected Ms Burton from a strong field of entries as its finalist for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ)/Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award.

Ms Burton has now been named one of the global recipients and will join her peers from around the world at a professional development ‘boot camp’ as part of the annual IFAJ International Congress, to be held in Wageningen, The Netherlands, in July.

ACAJ president Genevieve McAulay said Ms Burton was a deserving winner from a strong field of nominees.

“I congratulate Lydia on her outstanding application that not only demonstrated her commitment to building a career in rural journalism, but her enormous scope as an up-and-coming leader in this vital profession,” Ms McAulay said.

“As Australian agriculture cements itself as a global exporter of clean and green products, we are proud to be able to showcase our strong crop of rural journalists who are proving to be some of the best in the world.”

Ms Burton said it would be an honour to represent Australian rural journalists on the world stage.

“I am excited about the opportunity to network with agricultural journalists from around the world – I will head to The Netherlands as a sponge keen to soak up as much as I can from the young leaders boot camp and from other journalists.

“With the world becoming more aware of what it eats and pressure mounting on agriculture to be proactive rather than reactive in sharing its stories, we need journalists who can develop fresh, interesting angles. I relish the opportunity to improve my skills to ensure I am one of those journalists making global audiences take note of the importance of agriculture.

“I hope to return with the skills to better channel my passion and enthusiasm for rural journalism into inspiring the next generation of rural reporters.”

Ms Burton grew up in rural Queensland on her family’s beef cattle property. She completed a Bachelor of Entertainment Industries from the Queensland University of Technology and interned at ABC Rural before being offered the ABC Western Queensland Rural Reporter position. She was selected to present the NT Country Hour at just 24 years of age.

Ms Burton has also demonstrated her leadership potential outside her professional life. She received a Young Citizen Australia Day Award for Queensland’s Western Downs region and various school leadership awards, and has volunteered as a mentor and program assistant with Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), working directly with adolescent Indigenous students to develop their leadership and mentoring skills.

Judge’s comments:
Chair of the ACAJ selection panel, Liz Harfull, said Ms Burton was a unanimous choice by the three judges to be Australia’s nominee and progress to the international phase of judging.

“Even though she is in the relatively early stages of her career, Lydia has already shown considerable leadership within her workplace, helping to mentor the ABC’s Northern Territory team and anchor the Country Hour, as well as stepping up to the challenge of taking on the executive producer role on a number of occasions and representing the ABC in the community at high profile events,” Ms Harfull said.

“Lydia’s application also demonstrated a genuine commitment to building a career as a specialist rural journalist and a passion for agriculture.

“The work samples she provided revealed that she has a feel for the big picture of agriculture in its Australian and international context, as well as the industry’s human side, appreciating that telling the story of one requires an insight into the other.”

This win continues Australia’s unbroken track record of nominating a successful young journalist for the award every year since it was created in 2006.


Genevieve McAulay
ACAJ President
0428 279 576

Lydia Burton
IFAJ/Alltech Young Leader in Agricultural Journalism Award recipient
0417 208 793