I am happy to welcome you all here tonight. At least this time, you will be too busy talking about yourselves to gossip about us for a change!
We are honoured tonight with the presence of two of my distinguished predecessors, both of whom have a special rapport with tonight’s ceremony; One, the Right Honourable Jules Léger, because he was once a newspaperman himself and the other, the Right Honourable Roland Michener, because the award bears his name. It is a very real pleasure for me to welcome them and their charming wives on your behalf.
The Michener Award is granted to a news organization thought of having performed “the most outstanding public service in journalism” during the preceding calendar year. News media people are indeed “public servants” in that they keep their readers or viewers informed, aware and alerted to current events, trends, philosophies and opinions. We are lucky to live in a country which cherishes its freedom of the press and we must jealously guard this freedom.
The print and electronic media play a major role in this country. Some journalists are more familiar to us than many of the people they write about. It is important to protect freedom of speech in our media. It is also important to ensure that journalists continue to pursue ideals and exemplify professionalism.
For this reason, we must make the effort to recognize the merits of our journalists and the quality of their work. It therefore gives me great pleasure to pay tribute to the finalists for their fine showing and to congratulate the winner of the 1979 Michener Award. You have earned our respect and the respect of your colleagues. A free and dynamic press is the cornerstone of democracy and I encourage you all to ensure that it remains so. I also urge you to continue working towards making our media of communications the best in the world. Congratulations and best wishes to you all.
Thank you – Merci.
His Excellency Edward Schreyer
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall, Ottawa
November 8, 1980.
The distinction between this and other media awards is primarily the emphasis on the degree of arms-length public benefit that is generated. Journalistic excellence alone is not enough. Other criteria include the resources available to the news organizations, an effort to level the playing field for small, medium and large applicants.