Mr. Michener, Distinguished Recipients, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am always delighted on this occasion to welcome back to Rideau Hall my distinguished predecessor, Mr. Michener, and to congratulate him on having established these awards for excellence in the field of print media. In initiating these Michener Awards close to twenty years ago, Mr. Michener has also presented his vice-regal successors with an annual challenge. This occasion obliges each Governor General once a year to stand before you and sing the praises of our national media pundits, a chorus which does not, as a rule, roll easily off the tongues of those in public life who rarely find such accolades being issued in the opposite direction. But I’m happy to acknowledge your talents.
The Michener awards ensure that each year members of the national print media are recognized in a formal and substantive way for the good work that they do. Through the example of these acclaimed articles, there is established a standard of journalism and a goal towards which each journalist can strive in their pursuit of professional excellence. l commend you, Mr. Michener, for having perceived the need to establish some system of formal recognition of the print media in this country and for affording us an occasion to reflect on the positive and constructive service which is rendered to the Canadian community through the efforts of those whom we honour here this evening.
In a world dominated by mass media, your task is not easy. You must rely solely on your pen to convey your views. The electronic media, meanwhile, can add sound and image to convey theirs. The introduction of modern techniques has brought considerable change to the journalist’s professional environment and greater challenges to the media who require a longer attention span from the public. It is by far easier to change stations on radio or television for newscasts than to take the time to read a newspaper or a magazine. We have seen, however, that television and radio refer to the print media for rigorous and thoughtful analysis.
It therefore requires today every bit of a writer’s literary skill and talent to ensure that you retain for your newspapers and journals a consistent and loyal readership. In competing for the attention of a gossip-hungry public, it is easy to slip into the habit of producing and publishing only the most sensational and superficial of stories. But the written press will always be expected to deal with more fundamental issues, greater research, and analysis. Those we honour here today have not only succeeded but excelled in that task.
They have created a journalistic feature worthy of the respect and attention of their peers and colleagues, and the recognition of the state which they serve. It is my hope that the example of your success will inspire you to greater heights of journalistic achievement in your future endeavours, and inspire all those who are aware of your example to emulate your conscientious and responsible approach.
There is no question that the print media continues to exert a significant influence on the perception of the reading public. l congratulate the journalists nominated and awarded here today on your ability to use that power within the context of a highly competitive and demanding society to demonstrate that there still exists in this world a place for in-depth analysis and critical assessment and l wish to thank the members of the Board who have adjudicated this event for their efforts in ensuring that such efforts will be acknowledged and rewarded through ceremonies and awards such as those we witness today.
Her Excellency Jeanne Sauvé
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall, Ottawa
November 6, 1987.