Your Excellencies, honoured guests, Michener finalists, Mesdames et Messieurs,
My name is Paul Deacon and I have the honour, as president of the Michener Awards Foundation, of presiding at tonight’s presentation festivities.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Foundation, it was established in 1982 to perpetuate the annual Michener award first presented 14 years ago. The award was established by the Right Honourable Roland Michener when he was Governor General for meritorious and disinterested public service in journalism.
It is unique among journalism awards because it has no cash prize and it goes to the organization – newspaper, broadcasting station, network, periodical or news agency – not to the individual journalists who do the work.
The award pays attention to what the service achieved – did it benefit society? – and no attention at all to the quality of the writing, presentation, etc. Moreover, the judges are instructed to take account of the resources available to each entrant, so a small weekly or broadcasting station has as much chance at the award as the country’s largest media.
In addition to this main award, the board of the Foundation decided at its annual meeting last November to create a special award, one that would be made on occasion to recognize an unusual individual whose efforts exemplify the best in public service journalism. This award will be made infrequently, and at the discretion of the Foundation’s board.
The Foundation also has an educational function, designed to foster journalism of high quality and service to the community. To this end, for the second year, the Foundation is sponsoring a seminar on Monday at which journalism students will have an opportunity of learning first hand from the finalists how they went about producing the fine work that put them into contention for the award.
At today’s meeting of the Foundation board, which include distinguished members of the media from such places as Calgary, Halifax, Montreal and even Toronto, some new ways of furthering the Foundation’s work were explored, as well as ways to finance it. With its second full year of operation about to come to a close, the board also was cheered by the treasurer’s report that indicated a positive bank balance – large enough to carry us a short way and small enough to encourage us to get cracking with our fund-raising.
I would now like to call on the Founding Patron of the Michener Awards Foundation, the Right Honourable Roland Michener. Through his personal generosity of time and money, he has made it possible to get the Awards Foundation rolling. His personal interest in the aims of the award and his high reputation have encouraged media, large and small, from coast to coast, to vie for this much coveted recognition.
Thank you, Mr. Michener. We’re very grateful for what you have done, and we’re grateful also that your successors as Governor-General have continued the tradition of these presentation dinners at Government House.
Before you return to your seat, may I ask you to make a special presentation.
As I mentioned earlier, the board decided last year to create a special award, to recognize an unusual individual whose efforts exemplify the best in public service in journalism. And it announced at last year’s presentation dinner here at Rideau Hall that it was making the first such award to the late Clark Todd, the CTV London bureau chief who lost his life September 4, 1983, while covering the Lebanon violence.
As you may remember, Mr. Todd was a University of New Brunswick grad who had been in broadcasting 20 years. Thirty-eight at the time of his death, he had won international attention not only for his coverage of hot spots such as the Lebanon and Belfast and Poland, but he had won awards in the economic and political sphere in 1978, the Amos Tuck Award for Best Economic Reporting, on the topic of the Fall of the Dollar; the Overseas Press Club of America Award for Best Documentary in 1977, on Eurocommunism; an award in 1979 for a report on the Pope in Poland, and in the same year, the distinguished Peabody Award.
Tonight the sculpture symbolizing the Special Michener Award will be presented to Mrs. Todd. The sculpture was done by John Matthews, sculptor of the original Michener Award, who is with us tonight. The inscription reads:
for exceptional contributions to
public service in journalism
awarded posthumously November 12, 1983
I would ask Mrs. Todd to come forward to receive the sculpture from Mr. Michener.
Thank you, Mrs. Todd. Thank you, Mr. Michener.
I will now call on Fraser MacDougall, chairman of the panel of judges, to present the judges’ report. He will be assisted by Emery LeBlanc, a member of the panel. The six finalists are asked to stand when their names are called in alphabetical order.
Thank you, Mr. Fraser and thank you (winner).
I will now call on Mr. Ken Pole, president of the National Press Club which for years has helped make sure the annual Michener Award judging was accomplished, and the interest in it expanded.
(Ken Pole speaks briefly)
And may I add my own word of thanks to their Excellencies for hosting this very special event in the life of Canadian media. II nous fait grand plaisir, et fait honneur de meme a la profession.
Michener Awards Foundation
November 10th, 1984