Mr. Michener, Distinguished Recipients, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is, as always, a great pleasure to welcome my distinguished predecessor, Mr. Michener, back to Rideau Hall on this occasion. And I congratulate him for having the foresight and vision during his term in this office to create at least one occasion during the year where we might legitimately applaud the work of our media.
Words of praise for our pundits do not, as a rule, role easily off the tongues of those in public life. As a former journalist myself, I welcome this annual opportunity to celebrate the more noble side of journalism and to thank those writers who work with such obvious dedication and skill towards informing Canadians in all matters of public affairs.
The recipients we honour here this evening have demonstrated a degree of professionalism, an uncommon understanding of and sensitivity towards their subject matter. And an ability to translate a myriad of cold facts and warm anecdotes into a body of prose that is at one and the same time interesting, readable and informative.
It is a rare and perhaps waning art, this ability to communicate well through the written word. The competition for the attention of an information and gossip-hungry world is great, particularly from your colleagues in the electronic media, and one has to rally every bit of imagination and talent to develop a loyal and consistent following. There exists always the temptation to grasp at those sensational stories which are by their nature sure winners, the ones which will be guaranteed that coveted spot on the front page regardless of the quality of the coverage or the credibility of the analysis. While there is realistically a place and a purpose for such reporting, it is those feature which require a long term assessment of an issue or subject and which are only written after hours of sometimes thankless and tedious research which in the final analysis are most worthy of the time and attention of the consuming public.
This evening’s ceremony is a celebration of excellence. It provides us with the opportunity to congratulate the Award winners. The fact that they are chosen by a jury of peers – a most critical audience – confers true value to the awards. I hope the example set by the winners provides inspiration to all those who are involved with the media, and encouragement to maintain a high degree of professionalism in all their endeavours. May they set the standard for all who aspire to become journalists.
I wish to conclude by expressing my appreciation to the judges. It is not an easy task to select Michener Award winners among so many deserving candidates.
Her Excellency Jeanne Sauvé
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall, Ottawa
November 7, 1986.