Ottawa, June 8, 2007. The Prince George Citizen has won the 2006 Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. The announcement was made today by David Humphreys, President of the Michener Awards Foundation.
The northern British Columbia daily won for a series of more than 35 stories that made a significant impact on improving the safety of logging truck drivers. The small daily newspaper used the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to gain access to reports of inquiries by coroners and investigations by the Workers' Compensation Board. While the stories titled 'Dying for Work' were running, the province hired a forestry coroner and announced more than $20 million would be spent to upgrade forest roads.
The Citizen was among six finalists honoured this evening in a ceremony at Rideau Hall. Editor David Paulson accepted the award on behalf of The Citizen, from Her Excellency, The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean. The Governor General also presented Citations of Merit to seven news organizations. (see entry descriptions below)
The Governor General presented the 2007 Michener-Deacon Fellowship to Chris Cobb. He is a senior journalist with the Ottawa Citizen specializing in development issues, media and government/political communications strategies. Mr. Cobb will research and report on the impact of the International Landmines Treaty around the globe 10 years after it was signed in Ottawa. (full details)
In her address to the assembled guests and with particular reference to journalists attending the awards night ceremony, Governor General Michaëlle Jean said that providing information to the public was an important responsibility but information needed to be placed in a wider context. Accordingly, she added that "you must consider a multitude of voices, facts, and sources. Yours is a serious job that requires patience and precision. But it also requires you to be daring and on your toes. You must always know what is happening in the world around you. It is accepting that you will always ask questions. Otherwise, there is a danger of oversimplification. And oversimplification fuels prejudices. It misinforms". (Full Text)
David Humphreys said winners of the Award and Citations of Merit were selected from 47 entries, representative of large and small news organizations. He said the high quality of the entries was an indication of the excellence of public service journalism being done in Canada. "This year's win by a smaller daily newspaper proves once again that the size of the news organization is not a barrier to success in the Michener Award competition." Mr. Humphreys thanked Her Excellency for her support of the Michener Award and said the Foundation had been privileged to work with her predecessors over the years as they took steps to maintain the prestige and the relevance of the awards. The award program was started by former Governor General Roland Michener 37 years ago. (full text)
Citations of Merit were award to:
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: A fifth estate report entitled "Luck of the Draw" and follow-up coverage exposed a high level of insider wins by clerks and other ticket sellers in lotteries operated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. For this program, the fifth estate obtained hundreds of pages of documents some of which came from requests under the Freedom of Information Act. Also, documents leaked to the fifth estate show that in one year alone, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation was dealing with at least five cases of suspected retailer fraud. The report prompted an investigation by Ontario's Ombudsman and changes in operating procedures at several provincial lottery corporations. ( View story)
The Globe and Mail undertook an in-depth examination of the impact of cancer on the lives of Canadians. It revealed that many Canadians are experiencing delays in treatment and running up large debts to pay for basic treatments. The series also included an entire Focus section entitled - 'Cancer: A Day in the Life' - which profiled more than sixty Canadians who were affected by cancer - diagnosed, survived, treated or killed. While the series was running, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a national cancer strategy. After the series, Ontario announced that the province would spend more than $190 million on colorectal cancer screening. Deputy editor Sylvia Stead accepted the Citation of Merit on behalf of the newspaper.
The Hamilton Spectator, the Toronto Star, and The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo) entered a joint project. Their series called "Collision Course" undertook a comprehensive examination of aviation incidents and accident data. More than 80,000 passengers have been put at risk over the last five years when airplanes they were travelling in came dangerously close together in Canadian skies, according to never-before-released federal aviation data. Between 2001 and mid-2005, there were more than 800 incidents in which planes got too close to each other, according to Transport Canada data. The investigation found a safety system straining at the seams. A four-year struggle secured permanent public access to the Canadian database on aviation safety incidents. As a result of their efforts, journalists and others working in the public interest in the future will have access to this important information. Read the award winning story here: Collision Course
The Nunatsiaq News, a small weekly newspaper based in Iqaluit, reports on one-third of Canada's land mass. During 2006, the News continued its innovative coverage of the impact of climate change on the Canadian Arctic which included a study of satellite images which show an increasing amount of vegetation in the higher latitudes during the summer. Also record temperatures were being recorded in some Nunavik communities. There was interest around the world in reports about hungry, hostile polar bears and the use of air conditioners in the Arctic. In December, the Nunavut government held its first conference on adaptation to changes in the environment in response to increasing global concern over climate change. Editor-in-chief, Jim Bell, accepted the award on behalf of the newspaper.
La Presse: A series of investigative stories revealed how the SAQ, Quebec's liquor board, had artificially raised the price of wine and spirits to take advantage of the falling value of the Euro. The Board acknowledged that its employees incited some European suppliers to raise their wholesale prices - to counteract the new exchange rate - so that the agency could maintain its retail prices and thus avoid a drop in its revenue. In return for being allowed to raise their wholesale prices, these suppliers were then supposed to give the SAQ a volume price rebate of 2.5 per cent. As a result of the series, prices were reduced, the chairman and two SAQ vice presidents resigned and the auditor general of Quebec launched an investigation that confirmed the findings of the newspaper.
Judges for the 2006 Michener Award:
Russell Mills (chair), Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Media and Design, Algonquin College, and former Publisher of the Ottawa Citizen; Kim Kierans, Professor and Director of the School of Journalism at the University of Kings College in Halifax and former CBC News reporter and editor; Dr. Catherine McKercher, Associate Professor of Journalism and Communications, Carleton University, and former Washington correspondent, The Canadian Press; Duncan McMonagle, journalism instructor at Red River College in Winnipeg and former Senior Editor, The Globe and Mail, and former Editor-in-Chief, Winnipeg Free Press; René Roseberry, former News Editor, Le Nouvelliste, Trois Rivières and President of the Grands Prix des Hebdos du Quebec.
The Michener Award is presented annually to news organizations whose work has a major effect on public policy or the lives of Canadians. The Award is given to a news organization rather an individual. Print and broadcast and published online media of any size are eligible. Special consideration is given to the news resources available to the entry.