Ottawa, May 9, 1973 – The Globe and Mail and Halifax Scotian Journalist were co-recipients of the 1972 Michener Award. The Scotian Journalist for reports on conditions at a women’s detention home in New Brunswick; The Globe and Mail, for coverage of conflict of interest involving municipal and provincial politicians. Governor General Roland Michener made the presentation during a Government House ceremony. Debbie Sprague accepted the award on behalf of The Scotian and Richard Doyle, editor of the Globe and Mail, accepted the award on behalf of the newspaper.
The Scotian Journalist was honoured for reporting on the conditions under which women offenders have been incarcerated at the Interprovincial Home for Women (Cloverdale) at Moncton, New Brunswick and made public a confidential official report on the situation and its coverage eventually led to the closing of the institution.
The Globe and Mail was praised for disclosing blatant conflicts of interest on the part of politicians at the provincial and municipal levels and influenced the government of Ontario into promulgating regulations that moved Ontario to the forefront in this field among all the jurisdictions in Canada. The judges described the series as a “brilliant succession of interpretive pieces…a classic case of a ‘biggie’ taking on the mighty by persistently digging for facts and then publishing them in the best traditions of journalism as a bastion of democracy”.
Larry McInnis, president of the Federation of Press Clubs of Canada which administers the award said that since the award was designed to take into account the resources available to the entrants, it was fitting that the award for 1972 is shared by one of Canada’s larger newspapers, The Globe, with one of the smaller, The Scotian Journalist of Halifax. He also praised the high quality of journalism reflected in the work of the finalists. (full text)
In his address to the assembled guests, and without specifically mentioning the name Watergate, Governor General Roland Michener drew reference to the importance of journalism in a democratic society as molders of opinion. “This influence has been strongly borne in on us by what is happening across the border at this very moment. What is now being disclosed and throwing the government into confusion seems to flow directly from the determined work of reporters in keeping the issue alive and digging up information”. (complete text of His Excellency’s award night address)
Windsor Star, for following up an individual reader’s complaint about an apparent injustice in the administration of children’s aid. As a result, the Ontario Government eventually produced a new interpretation of legislation covering the status of Children’s Aid Society wards who reach the age of 18 to ensure that they need not necessarily lose the foster home in which they had established their roots. Throughout the province other sectors of the media had taken up the Windsor story and examined the same problem in their own area. The effects were felt even at the federal level.
La Presse, Montreal, for continuing its attention to the plight of patients in hospitals for the chronically ill. The newspaper also reported on efforts by some to form an association to arouse public opinion and pressure on their behalf. The judges said that reporting being done on this front by Claire Dutrisac is unique in Canadian journalism and change is taking place in consequence.
Judges for the 1972 Michener Award:
Fraser MacDougall, chair of the judging panel, former Canadian Press executive and now executive secretary of the Ontario Press Council; Yves Gagnon, director of communications at Laval University; Sam Ross, retired radio news correspondent, Vancouver; and Bill Boss, director of public relations at the University of Ottawa.
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.