JOURNALIST Mary Alexander last night won a prestigious state award for her superb coverage of the Derrinallum bomb blast in April.
Ms Alexander, who is the chief of staff at The Standard, took out the best feature category at the Rural Press Club of Victoria gala dinner in Melbourne.
The awards attract entries from news outlets across Victoria, including newspapers, radio and television.
The judges acknowledged her feature told the story behind the tragedy.
She kept readers up to date with rolling online coverage through The Standard’s website in the hours immediately after Glenn “The Colonel” Sanders blew himself up, injuring two police during a raid on his home.
Ms Alexander followed up in the coming days and weeks with a suite of compelling stories that gave readers a remarkable insight into Sanders’ life.
The articles regularly topped The Standard’s daily online content and were featured across the Fairfax regional network, attracting a massive national audience.
But it was Ms Alexander’s lengthy feature ‘Tragic descent into a deadly darkness’ which drew high praise from readers for its sensitivity and honesty in tackling the subject without sensationalising it.
‘’I am in tears and overcome with the wonderful story you wrote,’’ said one reader.
Ms Alexander dedicated her award win to the Derrinallum community “for their concern and support for their friend The Colonel, who didn’t make it”.
The Standard’s editor Steve Kelly said the award was well deserved.
“Mary is a thoroughbred professional,’’ he said. “Her approach to this difficult story was dynamic and intuitive but never over the top. These are not easy stories for journalists to cover, but she didn’t fl inch and our readers got the facts without the spin.
“We’re extremely proud of her.’’