Sunday, November 08, 2015

Richard Fewster Inducted as Rural Media Icon (Nov 2015)

Fifty year veteran of rural media, Richard Fewster recently received the very rare honour of being inducted as a Rural Media Icon.

RMSA President, Ian Doyle; Rural Media Icon, Richard Fewster; RMSA Vice-President, Dale Manson

Within the industry of rural media, there are individuals who are held in admiration for their high level of professionalism, long term dedication and passion for communicating rural issues. Rural Media South Australia recognises only the most outstanding of these individuals through their elevation to the status of “Rural Media Icons”. It is a rare honour and the highest that can be bestowed by Rural Media SA. The decision to induct an individual is never taken lightly.

With his elevation to the status of Rural Media Icon, Richard Fewster joins Angela Goode, Jon Lamb, Dick James, Norman Marston, Alan Richardson and Ian Doyle as part of a very prestigious, but small cohort.

Richard originally came off a fruit block at Renmark prior to studying a Diploma in Agriculture at Roseworthy Agricultural College. He excelled in the practicalities of life outside of the lecture theatre at Roseworthy, graduating in 1965. As a practical horticulturalist, he won the T.G.H. Buring Prize in Horticulture during his second year at Roseworthy and the Rudi Buring Prize for Practical Horticulture in his third and final year.

After graduating from Roseworthy, Richard initially spent eight years as a working journalist with the weekly agriculture paper, The Chronicle and the daily paper, The Advertiser. While with these papers, Richard introduced and ran the SA Farm Innovation Competition.

There is no doubting the experience of reporting for The Chronicle and The Advertiser blooded Richard for a 50-year career in the media and as one of the nation’s leading rural communications and public relations experts.

Shortly after leaving The Advertiser, Richard set up his own public relations business and was commissioned to write a series of books including the history of B. Seppelt & Sons and Grain Handling in South Australia for SACBH. As his rural communications company grew, Richard started handling media initiatives for an increasingly broad range of rural companies and agriculturally based organisations.

He led the development of many technology transfer programs, including Horticulture for Tomorrow and initiatives for the Grains Research and Development Corporation. In all cases, the work involved understanding new technology and developing communication programs that primary producers would understand and embrace. Almost without exception these programs were taken up on a national basis, targeting people in rural, regional and remote Australia.

He worked on many international marketing campaigns. As head of global marketing for Turnbull Fox Phillips’ (now Porter Novelli’s) international public relations network, he gained considerable knowledge of issues facing agricultural organisations wanting to market themselves or rurally derived products on a global basis.

In honouring Richard Fewster as a “Rural Media Icon”, Rural Media SA stressed the decision to elevate him to the status of “Rural Media Icon” was not based on the part of his career as a PR man and corporate communications consultant. It also was not about being President of the Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of SA, being the architect of the highly successful Ibis Awards, membership of the SA Citrus Industry Development Board, board member of various medical research foundations or driving a program that won the inaugural United Nations International Award for environmental public relations.

The honour bestowed upon Richard Fewster was focused on his exceptional life as a working rural journalist, the fostering of careers for other rural journalists, the enormous opportunities he has pioneered & opened up for others, his unwavering commitment to rural (as opposed to the easier and very tempting pathway of going general) and his numerous back-room roles in ensuring the highest quality in media reporting, production & management.

Only a week and a half prior to the RMSA induction ceremony, Richard was also awarded the University of Adelaide Roseworthy Alumni group’s highest honour, the ROCA Award of Merit in recognition of his broader roles in life.

Rural Media Icons: Ian Doyle; Angela Goode; Richard Fewster; Norman Marston; Alan Richardson