Australian journalist and AWNY committee member Emma Cillekens has been nominated for the ‘Oscars of podcasting’.
‘The Extortion Economy’ is a five-part series that looks at the money, people and technology behind the explosion of ransomware that is delivering hundreds of millions of dollars to cybercriminals around the world.
She’s currently in Los Angeles to attend The Ambies, an awards ceremony hosted by The Podcast Academy to recognize the best in the audio business. Emma was managing producer on the podcast ‘The Extortion Economy’, which is nominated in the category Best Knowledge, Science or Tech.
Emma said she was looking forward to celebrating with her team, regardless of the outcome.
“I feel called to make a difference through storytelling, but sometimes I get caught up in creating the next episode, investigating the next lead or editing interviews into compelling narrative,” she said.
“Being able to take time out to acknowledge the work and the impact we may have had with our reporting is the biggest reward.”
Emma said The Ambies, to be held on 22 March, is the first in-person awards ceremony she will attend since 2019.
“The pandemic has meant we’ve had to attend remote awards ceremonies for the past two or so years, and I’ve really missed that opportunity to celebrate my team and my fellow journalists”, she said.
“I’ve attended awards ceremonies on Zoom, YouTube, even watched them unfold on a Twitter thread.”
She recalls getting dressed up and attending one ceremony in the U.S. on Zoom, while locked away in her nephew’s bedroom when visiting her family in Australia.
The Ambies nomination is not the first feather in Emma’s cap this year. A podcast she co-created with her close friend and host Jennifer Strong, ‘In Machines We Trust’, won a Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page Award for investigative audio in January. The award specifically honored a four-part series about automated hiring practices. She also began teaching a radio reporting and podcasting class at Hunter College, which is part of the City University of New York (CUNY).
Originally from the Gold Coast in Australia, Emma currently leads the AWNY communications team, comprised of 17 women from Australia and New Zealand and responsible for the organization’s communications including social media, website, and newsletter.
Emma was a radio host in Mount Isa for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, before moving to New York City in 2016 to take up a scholarship at New York University’s prestigious Studio 20 program, which focused on innovation in journalism.
She was also the inaugural winner of the American Australian Association’s David Nason scholarship, which partially supported her studies in the U.S.
Since her graduation from NYU in 2018, Emma has worked on a variety of projects with some of the best in the business including The Wall Street Journal, ProPublica, Barron’s and WNYC.
She has won numerous awards for her journalism including a New York Emmy, Webby, Peabody, New York Press Club, Polk and Goldsmith, with one of her projects selected as a finalist in The Pulitzer Prizes.