Ottawa, April 25, 2013 – The Michener Awards Foundation today announced six finalists for the 2012 Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism.
The finalists are: the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Société Radio-Canada’s Enquête; The Coast (Halifax); Postmedia News and The Ottawa Citizen; La Presse; The Toronto Star; and The Vancouver Sun.
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will host the Michener Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall on June 18 where the winner of the 2012 Michener Award will be announced and two Michener-Deacon Fellowships will be presented. The Fellowship winners will be announced in early May.
The Michener Award, founded in 1970 by the late Roland Michener, then governor-general, honours excellence in public-service journalism. The judges’ decisions are heavily influenced by the degree of public benefit generated by the print and broadcast entries submitted for consideration.
The following entries are the 2012 finalists:
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Société Radio-Canada’s Enquête
CBC’s Investigative Unit and Enquête demonstrated links between industry funding and “independent” research that had downplayed the health risks of asbestos mining in Canada to support a “safe use” policy of continued exports to Third World countries. The compelling series forced government finally to act on a serious public health issue. The newly elected PQ government rejected a proposal to re-open a Quebec asbestos mine. Ottawa withdrew its opposition to putting warnings on asbestos exports, Saskatchewan created an asbestos registry of government buildings, and the asbestos lobby, the Chrysotile Institute, closed.
In the lead up to the 2012 municipal election, the investigation by The Coast, an independent alternative weekly newspaper, revealed that Halifax’s popular three-term mayor had taken more than $160,000 from an estate of which he was the executor. More than seven years after the death of Mary Thibault, Peter Kelly had not dispersed hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities and her heirs. The impact of this exemplary reporting was immediate: Mayor Kelly chose not to seek re-election, which changed the focus of the election campaign.
Postmedia News and The Ottawa Citizen
The detailed and sustained reporting exposed the use of “robocalls” to mislead and harass voters during the 2011 federal election campaign. The coverage shed light on how technology can subvert our most fundamental democratic value: the right to vote in a fairly run election. The impact has been resounding: Elections Canada is investigating a deluge of complaints about calls sending voters to non-existent polling stations; a Federal Court ruling is pending on a legal challenge to overturn results in six ridings; charges were laid against a PC campaign worker.
The death of a young woman led to this investigation into the business of miracle cures in Quebec. The multimedia inquiry tracks the tentacles of these healers in hospitals and schools, exposing fraudulent receipts for insurance claims and tax receipts, and few prosecutions. The series shocked the medical community into action. The Association of Psychologists and the Quebec College of Physicians launched inquiries into these fake healers. The College has asked the Ministry of Justice to enact laws to prosecute such charlatans.
The Toronto Star
The autism project turned the spotlight on the failure of Ontario’s health and social policies to address the challenges faced at different stages of life by those with autism. The comprehensive series looked at all facets of the issue – from groundbreaking scientific research to the heartbreaking stories of young people, homeless or in jail due to the severe shortage of services and funding. The series sparked an intense debate and put questions about treatment squarely on the political agenda. The province is reviewing children’s services and looking at ways to bridge gaps for young adults.
The Vancouver Sun
Catastrophic explosions that killed four workers at two northern B.C. sawmills led The Sun to investigate gaps in public safety concerning the risk of wood-dust explosions. Using inspection records from WorkSafeBC, the provincial fire commissioner and local fire departments, The Sun created databases to analyze the documents. They found that frequently wood dust was involved in fires and that fire-code inspections were lax. The impact was swift. The B.C. government created a program to reduce the risk of dust explosions, and major forest companies promised an independent audit of dust levels.
Judges for the 2012 Michener Awards:
Kim Kierans (chair), Professor School of Journalism and Vice-President University of King's College in Halifax and former CBC news reporter and editor; Kevin Crowley, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University and former Business Editor with the Waterloo Region Record; Allan Mayer, former editor-in-chief of the Edmonton Journal and former reporter with the Edmonton Sun and London Free Press; Claude Papineau, former Vice-President for French Services of The Canadian Press and former Parliamentary Correspondent; Christopher Waddell, Director of the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University and former National Editor of The Globe and Mail and Parliamentary Bureau Chief for CBC Television News.
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