I am immensly grateful, but still coming to terms with being the recipient of a major journalism award in Queensland.

It was a total surprise, shock even, and completely unexpected. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I could even be in the running for it.

When my name was announced at the Clarion Awards, my husband kindly escorted me to the stage, and as he did so, he quietly reminded me: “You know you’re going to have to say a few words.”

The Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism Award is one of two major awards where the recipient is encouraged to say something.

You’d think as a broadcaster and lecturer of many years I’d be used to standing up in front of a group of people and speaking, but the truth is I have always hated public speaking.

As a broadcaster you sit behind a desk and talk to a microphone and a few guests, either on the phone or in the studio.

I nearly died when I delivered my first journalism lecture and had all these faces peering down at me. Terrifying.

So I accepted my certificate and walked (wobbled, shaking) to the podium to say a few words.

I think I managed to say “thank you”, something about being passionate about journalism and working with students, but I really have no idea what else I said.

I just hope I made sense and it sounded okay.

So this is what I meant to say, or would have liked to have said…

Thank you so much for this award. What a huge honour to be recognised by your industry peers for doing your job.

I am passionate about journalism. Good journalism. Independent, fact checked, solid journalism.

We need it now more than ever.

We now live in a world where “fake news” is hurled at journalists on a daily basis – even from top politicians.

Where some people feel it’s okay to spit in the face of journalists, throw urine and missles at them when they are trying to do their jobs.

A job where you can run the risk of getting killed, or imprisoned.

You have to wonder why anyone would do it.

But then two journalists get recognised for the Nobel Peace Prize.

You see the difference you can make to people’s lives when their voices and stories are heard.

You can actually make a difference.

You can make people think.

You can make people question things.

And that’s incredibly rewarding.

I have been priviledged to work as a journalism educater for twenty years, encouraging people to give this industry a go, to see that no two days are ever the same.

And I am so pleased so many of them trusted me.

Even if some are no longer in the industry, they’ve already made a difference.

I’ve had to answer many probing questions from parents as to the future of journalism, and my answer has always been the same – journalism matters. It always will.

And, as a backup, I’ve usually added that the skills you learn as a journalist are 100% transferable.

You will be a better writer, a better speaker, a better communicator.

I have loved working with students over the years.

Yes, there have been tears. Yes, it’s been stressful, for both me and them.

There have been thousands of deadlines, scripts to sub, stories to find.

But when you see a student “get it”, that light bulb moment, their first story published and go to air, it’s just the best feeling and you know their journey has begun.

I’m no longer in that teaching role and I miss the students every day, but I’m so grateful I’ve had this opportunity – and that so many of those former students – I now call friends.

I will be a lifelong advocate for journalism – that passion will never die.

And I am so grateful for this recognition today. It means so very, very much to me.

Thank you.