Ottawa, June 18, 2013. Postmedia and The Ottawa Citizen have won the 2012 Michener Award for detailed and sustained reporting that exposed the use of “robocalls” to mislead and harass voters during the 2011 federal election campaign, Russell Mills, President of the Michener Awards Foundation, announced today.
In a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, His Excellency David Johnston, presented the coveted Michener Award trophy to Postmedia and The Ottawa Citizen. Publisher Gerry Nott accepted the award on behalf of the Citizen. He praised the high caliber of all the entries and said that winning the award didn’t imply work being done by the other finalists was any less important or vital. (the complete text)
The media outlet was among six news organizations honoured at the ceremony. The Michener Award is presented annually for journalism that makes a significant impact on the public good.
In his opening address to the finalists and invited guests, the Governor General said that…”Law without the pursuit of justice is just so many words…..it is the pursuit of justice that compels our best journalists to do their important work.” (The full text)
During the Award ceremony, the Governor General honoured Bryan Cantley with the Michener-Baxter Special Award for his commitment and outstanding service to Canadian journalism and the newspaper industry. Before he retired, Mr. Cantley served for many years as vice president of the Canadian Newspaper Association. He is secretary of the National Newspaper Awards and and executive director of the Commonwealth Journalists Association. Due to poor health, Mr. Cantley was unable to attend the ceremony. He requested that Pierre Bergeron, a close colleague and a board member of the Michener Awards Foundation, accept the award on his behalf (acceptance photo). Update: Bryan Cantley died on June 25. More…
The Michener Award Foundation honoured Postmedia and The Ottawa Citizen for exemplary reporting into the “robocalls” scandal during the 2011 federal election campaign. Extensive interviews, court records and other documents showed that the automated telephone calls seemed to target opposition voters in ridings across the country.
The persistent coverage shed light on how technology can subvert our most fundamental democratic value: the right to vote in a fairly run election. The impact of this coverage has been resounding: Elections Canada is investigating a deluge of complaints about calls that sent voters to non-existent polling stations; the Federal Court has ruled that electoral fraud occurred in six ridings; and a PC campaign worker is facing charges. Stephen Maher on the investigation of ‘ Robocalls’.
Foundation President, Russell Mills thanked His Excellency for his support of the Michener Award and said that the founder, former Governor General Roland Michener, would be delighted that all of his successors have supported the Award strongly and that it is now in its 43nd year. (the full text)
2013 Michener-Deacon Fellowships:
Photojournalist Roger LeMoyne was awarded the 2013 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Journalism. He plans to use the fellowship to document the environmental and civic behaviour of Canadian mining companies in foreign countries.
Mr. LeMoyne has won national and international awards for his photo documentaries of human conflict and turmoil ranging from Kosovo to Africa. The full story.
The Governor General also presented the 2013 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Journalism Education to Julie Ireton, a reporter with CBC News, Ottawa. She will develop a workshop on entrepreneurial journalism to assist students in schools of journalism across Canada to market their skills. Ms Ireton is the business reporter at CBC Ottawa and has covered a wide range of topics – from investigating corporate corruption to highlighting Ottawa’s technology sector. The full story.
Michener Citations of Merit were presented to:
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Société Radio-Canada’s Enquête revealed links between asbestos industry funding and “independent” research that had downplayed the health risks of asbestos mining. The findings were used to support Ottawa’s “safe use” policy of continued exports to Third World countries.
This compelling series forced federal and provincial governments to act on a serious public health issue that has killed thousands across Canada and threatened the well-being of many more in Asia. Afer these stories were broadcast, the newly elected Parti Quebecois government cancelled a $58-million loan guarentee to re-open the last Quebec asbestors mine ending the 130 year history of asbestos mining in Canada. Producer Terence McKenna talks about the award winning entry and the documentary ‘Fatal Deception’.
The investigation by The Coast, an independent alternative weekly newspaper, revealed that Halifax’s popular three-term mayor, Peter Kelly had taken more than $160,000 from an estate of which he was the executor. More than seven years after Mary Thibault’s death, her heirs and designated charities had not received the bequests in her will. Following the revelations, Mayor Kelly announced that he would not seek a fourth term, which changed the focus of the municipal election campaign. Reporter Tim Bousquet describes the genesis of the award-winning entry.
La Presse began its investigation into the shady business of miracle cures in Quebec after the death of a young woman who was wrapped in plastic film and enclosed in a box by a personal self-fulfillment guru. Using a hidden camera, reporters recorded dozens of charlatans claiming to cure all kinds of afflictions from depression to cancer with suspect methods and phony electronic devices.
The multimedia inquiry tracked the tentacles of these so-called healers, exposed fraudulent financial accounting, and found that few of these gurus face prosecution. The series shocked the medical community into action. The Association of Psychologists and the Quebec College of Physicians launched inquiries into these fake healers. The College has asked the Ministry of Justice to enact laws to prosecute such charlatans.
The Toronto Star turned the spotlight on the failure of Ontario’s health and social policies to address the challenges faced by people with autism at different stages of life. The comprehensive series looked at all facets of the issue – from groundbreaking scientific research to the severe shortage of services and funding, particularly for young adults. It documented how families spend their life savings to pay for expensive treatment and suffer in silence in the face of government neglect. The autism project sparked an intense debate and put questions about policy and treatment squarely on the political agenda. Star reporter Laurie Monsebraaten with the story about the Autism Project.
The Vancouver Sun investigated gaps in public safety after catastrophic explosions killed four people and injured another 42 workers at two northern B.C. sawmills. Using inspection records from WorkSafeBC, the provincial fire commissioner and local fire departments, the Sun created databases to analyze the documents. They found that wood dust was frequently involved in fires, and that despite knowledge of this and previous warnings about the risks, fire-code inspections were not being carried out at some sawmills. The impact following the 15-part series was swift. The B.C. government invested $1 million for a fire inspection and prevention program to reduce the risk of dust explosions, and major forest companies promised an independent audit of dust levels to increase safety at their sawmills. Reporter Gordon Hoekstra provides some background to the award-winning series.
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Judges for the 2012 Michener Award:
Kim Kierans (chair), Professor School of Journalism and Vice President University of King’s College in Halifax and former CBC news reporter and editor; Kevin Crowley, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University and former business editor with the Waterloo Region Record; Allan Mayer, former editor-in-chief of the Edmonton Journal and former reporter with the Edmonton Sun and London Free Press; Claude Papineau, former Vice President for French Services of The Canadian Press and former Parliamentary Correspondent; Christopher Waddell, Director of the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University and former National Editor of The Globe and Mail and Parliamentary Bureau Chief for CBC Television News.
Judges for the 2013 Michener-Deacon Fellowships:
Lindsay Crysler (chair), former managing editor of The Gazette, Montreal, former director, journalism department, Concordia University, Montreal; Clinton Archibald, associate professor, professor of public ethics, St. Paul University, Ottawa; Michael Goldbloom, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Bishops University, Sherbrooke, Quebec, and former publisher of The Gazette and the Toronto Star; Lynne Van Luven, associate professor of journalism and creative non-fiction, University of Victoria; Erin Steuter, chair of the sociology department, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB.
The Michener Awards Foundation
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