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Dowding a Walkley finalist

CHANNEL Seven Perth journalist Simon Dowding has been named a finalist in the Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism.

His Today Tonight report entitled Graylands Suicides is one of three finalists in the Current Affairs Reporting (less than 10 minutes) category. The report, which aired in April, took six months to research and detailed the plight of a distraught mother whose only son died at Perth’s Graylands Mental Hospital.

“Her son was a successful triathlete, but had some problems and was admitted to Greylands,” Mr Dowding said.

“He hung himself on the premises, but the body was not discovered for four days.

“The mother was convinced there was foul play, and I began to wonder if this had happened to anyone else. After a lot of digging around and calling people, I heard some disturbing tales about Greylands and found this wasn’t just a one-off incident. That’s what really made the story.

“A psychiatrist and former Greylands employee was quite forthcoming about the concerns he had.

“The hospital treated the issue quite flippantly.”

The report prompted a coroner’s inquiry and the outcome is pending.

Mr Dowding began his career in journalism at The West Australian in 1990 and after four years, worked at Melbourne’s Herald Sun for one year.

He then made the switch from print journalism to TV news reporting at Channel Ten and has been working for Channel Seven for the past three years.

“I prefer TV reporting to print reporting because you have the ability to get the subject more involved in the story,” he said. “It’s more evocative and you can get creative with music.”

Also honoured as finalists are former Perth Seven News political editor Geof Parry, who is based with the Seven Network in Canberra, and journalist Chris Reason.

They are two of three finalists in the News Reporting category for their Logie Award-winning reports on the East Timor conflict.

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