Ottawa, May 16, 1974 – The CTV Television network was the winner of the 1973 Michener Award for Inquiry – “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” – an hour long television program that dealt with the invasion of privacy through the use of ‘bugging’ devices and the attempts by Parliament to control them. Governor General Jules Léger, once a news reporter himself, made the presentation during a glittering ceremony at Rideau Hall. The award for journalistic excellence was accepted by the producer of the winning entry, Jack McGaw, representing the CTV Television Network.
In the foyer of Rideau Hall prior to the ceremony, the Governor-General extended his hand to Jack McGaw and declared “I hope you haven’t got an electronic bug on you” “No sir, not today,” McGaw assured him as the line of invited guests moved into an adjoining room at Government House for the presentation of the distinguished Michener Award.
CTV’s ‘Inquiry’ was recognized by the judges for taking a series of facts which were being reported by all the media at the time and probing beyond the surface using imagination and courage. The facts dealt with the invasion of privacy through electronic devices and attempts by Parliament to legislate on the practice by drawing a line between banning them altogether and allowing them under certain conditions by authorized agencies. CTV made its point by “bugging” the most secret type of gathering in Parliament itself – a caucus meeting of the New Democratic Party – an act that prompted a motion of censure in the House of Commons. The program also illustrated the myriad other ways in which electronics enable the acquisition of vast amounts of information about individual citizens. The judges said this was an out-standing example of in-depth reporting by a medium still discovering its own ability to dig with impact, instead of being content to skim superficially.
As a result of the program, the law was changed to permit only consensual bugging which permits recording devices to be used only if the user is present during the recording or transmission. That law stands today. (The story behind the award-winning program)
During his address to the assembled guests at the ceremony, the Governor General referenced the recently called federal election saying that journalists had an important role to play during the campaign to ensure that citizens are responsibly informed of the issues adding – “It is up to the voters to make up their minds and express their judgment. You assist them in this duty by offering them complete and impartial information”. (Full text of the Honourable Jules Léger’s address)
John Downing, President of the Federation of Press Clubs of Canada, said it was fitting that Governor General Léger was making the presentations today because his first profession was journalism. (His full text)
First honourable mention went to the Dartmouth Free Press for its courage in the face of a hoodlum invasion that threatened the lives of its staff and the security of its plant. The Free Press reported the facts and editorialized on them
The second was shared by two radio stations that served their communities in outstanding fashion in near-crisis situations – CHRC-AM, Quebec City, and CFCW-FM, Camrose, Alberta. Both stations more than measured up to the challenge of events, and served their publics in an outstanding way in terms of both competence and stamina.
CHRC was the cool, informative, coordinating voice that kept the region together and functioning during an ice storm, the effects of which lasted for several days.
CFCW alerted its region to the dangers inherent in a cloud of noxious vapour caused by a leak in an oil well and was instrumental to the success of efforts to evacuate the area.
Judges for the 1973 Michener Award:
Fraser MacDougall, chair of the judging panel, former Canadian Press executive and now executive secretary of the Ontario Press Council; Yves Jasmin, assistant secretary general of Communications at the National Museum of Canada; Bill Boss, director of public relations at the University of Ottawa; and Sam Ross, retired radio news correspondent, Vancouver.
The Michener Award, founded in 1970 by the late Right Honourable Roland Michener, then Governor General, goes to a news organization. The Award is heavily influenced by the results generated by the entries submitted for the competition. Consideration is also given to the resources available to the news organization.