WIKILEAKS was last night awarded a Walkley for outstanding contribution to journalism for what was described by judges as a global publishing coup that achieved "justice through transparency".
"WikiLeaks applied new technology to penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup," the Walkley trustees said.
"Its revelations, from the way the war on terror was being waged, to diplomatic bastardry, high-level horse-trading and the interference in the domestic affairs of nations, have had an undeniable impact."
The Gold Walkley was won by Sarah Ferguson, Michael Doyle and Anne Worthington for the graphic ABC Four Corners report on animal cruelty in Australia's live cattle export trade.
The report, A Bloody Business, was the result of a seven-week investigation that backed up the footage shot by animal activist group Animals Australia showing cattle being tortured before slaughter. It led the federal government to ban live exports of cattle to Indonesia, causing a diplomatic incident.
The 56th Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism were presented in 34 categories at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre last night, and also screened on SBS television.
The late ABC journalist Paul Lockyer was posthumously awarded the Walkley award for journalistic leadership, three months after he died alongside colleagues Gary Ticehurst and John Bean in an ABC helicopter crash at Lake Eyre.
"Journalists, like saints, aren't always fully appreciated in their own lifetimes," the Walkleys board said.
"So it was with Paul Lockyer, largely because of his own modesty. He was trusted by his colleagues and his audience. If Lockers told you something, you could believe it."
Best news story went to The Weekend West's Joseph Catanzaro for his report Secret Toll of War, which revealed that Australian soldiers, after a decade of war in Afghanistan, had lodged 3400 compensation claims.
Gold Walkley-winner Ferguson had a double celebration last night, as her husband, ABC TV Lateline host Tony Jones, won best broadcast interviewing award.
The Australian's consumer affairs editor, Natasha Bita, won the award for sustained coverage of an issue or event for her reports on the damage to children from the Fluvax vaccination program.
Also on The Australian, photographer Stuart McEvoy won the daily life category for his pictures of 86-year-old Maria Domandi, 86, and the devastating impact of Cyclone Yasi.
Herald Sun deputy editor Jill Baker, who recently won the major Sir Keith Murdoch Award at the News Awards, won best newspaper feature writing for her personal story of cancer and loss, entitled The Big C and Me. Veteran commentator Laura Tingle of The Australian Financial Review won best commentary, analysis and opinion for her selection of articles about federal politics.
The ABC's Japan correspondent, Mark Willacy, won for his radio reports on the Japan tsunami.
The Seven network won two broadcast awards for reports on the Lockyer Valley floods and the Ten network's Matt Moran and Hugh Riminton, won best scoop for the Ten news exclusive on the defence force Skype scandal.