Ottawa, April 11, 2006. The Globe and Mail has won the 2005 Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism, David Humphreys, President of the Michener Foundation, announced today. It was the second time in a row that the newspaper has won the award for excellence in journalism. Mr. Humphreys said winners of the Award and Citations of Merit were selected from 61 entries, representative of large and small news organizations from across the country. He said the high quality of the entries was an indication of the excellence of public service journalism being done in Canada.
The Globe and Mail won for two series of stories about breast cancer by reporter Lisa Priest. One series about the breakthrough breast cancer drug Herceptin prompted provincial government to fast-track the drug approval process and expand use of the drug. It had been restricted to women who were dying of breast cancer. A second series about breast cancer screening machines prompted provincial governments to impose tighter regulations on clinics and compelled many clinic owners of screening machines to pass a national quality test.
The Globe and Mail was among six finalists honoured this evening in a ceremony at Rideau Hall. Editor-in-chief Edward Greenspon accepted the award on behalf of The Globe, from Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean. The Governor General also presented Citations of Merit to five news organizations (see entry descriptions below). In accepting the award, Mr. Greenspon said that “freedom of the press is one of the foundations of our society and with that freedom comes the responsibility to pursue the public interest”.
In her address to the assembled guests attending the Award night ceremony, the Governor General said she recognized the courage journalists and news organizations needed to carry out their work in the oppressed regions of the world. She noted that in 2005, more journalists had lost their lives than in each of the previous ten years and said “I would like to pay tribute to all of the women and men who have given their lives in the pursuit of truth.” (The full text of Her Excellency’s speech)
Stories by Lisa Priest, the reporter on this year’s winning entry, have twice before been nominated for the Michener Award. In 1993, while working for the Toronto Star, her two-part series on the difficulties of getting treatment for Ontario breast cancer patients was awarded a Citation of Merit. In 1998, she was part of a Toronto Star reporting team investigation into the troubled Ontario health care system. For this series, the newspaper was honoured with the Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism.
The Governor General also presented the 2006 Michener-Deacon Fellowship to Montreal-based freelance writer Julian Sher, who will investigate the scourge of child pornography. Mr. Sher is a documentary film producer, author of three investigative books and creator of JournalismNet. (full story)
Judges for the Michener Award said they were pleased to receive an entry from the Nunatsiaq News based in Iqaluit. The story titled ‘Why Inuit men are falling behind‘ was written by reporter Sara Minogue. This is the first time an entry has been received from the far north. Nunatsiaq News is an English-Inuktitut weekly newspaper that has served Nunavut and the Nunavik region of Arctic Quebec since 1973. Iqaluit, a town of over 6,000 people, is located at the end of Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island.
David Humphreys made his first appearance at the ceremony as President of the Michener Awards Foundation. He thanked the Governor General for her encouragement and support of the award program. He said it was a pleasure to welcome her as she presides for the first time at a Michener Awards ceremony. He went on to say: “We count ourselves distinctly honoured, but also – I should say – fortunate that you are patron of the Michener Awards. We are well aware of your distinguished contribution to Canadian journalism and are delighted that you have become the Governor General. We thank you for the support your office has given the Michener Foundation.
Your arrival coincides with a good year for the Michener Awards. We have 61 entries for the award itself. The numbers have continued to rise in recent years. We were particularly pleased to receive the first entry from Nunavut and, indeed, from the North. Over the years, we have received a variety of submissions from sea to sea and now we have added a third – that of the northern Arctic – among our candidates.
For 36 years, the Michener Awards have honoured arms-length journalism that serves the public good – journalism that leads to positive change for Canadians. Today, when political spin has been elevated to an art form, it is crucial that we not only maintain, but strengthen the tradition that The Right Honourable Roland Michener established in 1970. For the last 19 years, the Michener- Deacon Fellowship has been part of that tradition”
Citations of Merit were award to:
The Canadian Medical Association Journal received a Citation of Merit for an investigation by news editors, Laura Eggertson and Barbara Sibbald into a screening form developed by the Canadian Pharmacists’ Association to guide pharmacists in counselling women seeking the emergency contraceptive drug Plan B.
The form asked highly personal questions and could have posed a barrier to access the drug. It also raised privacy concerns about the lack of pharmacy private consulting rooms, and in some provinces, pharmacists recorded that information and stored it in patient files. Following publication of the story, the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association decided to drop the screening form and to stop asking women for personal identity information.
La Presse was honoured for a series of stories by Sébastien Rodrigue and Nicolas Bérubé which uncovered serious problems in security on Montreal’s subway system. The reports revealed rising crime levels and a lack of coordination between the metro system’s own security force and Montreal city police all of which fuelled passenger perceptions that the system was unsafe.
Following publication of the series, the city of Montreal announced that responsibility for security would be taken over by Montreal city police and by 2006 selected metro security agents would by replaced by uniformed and armed police officers.
Radio-Canada received the award for an investigation of two Hydro-Quebec power facilities in northern Quebec which revealed a serious lack of security at the huge dams, including unlocked doors and the absence of surveillance cameras and alarm systems.
Reporter Christian Latreille and a cameraman entered one of the world’s largest hydroelectric stations, the LG-2, a Quebec power station producing electricity for 1.3 million Quebecers, as well as exporting energy to New England. They were able to walk freely about what should have been secure facilities. Following broadcasts showing the reporting team wandering through the station unimpeded, Hydro-Quebec announced a plan to spend $130 million to improve security, including the hiring of 200 guards.
The Star received the Citation of Merit for a series by reporter Harold Levy about the sloppy and incompetent work of a pathologist that led to the bail release of William Mullins-Johnson, a Sault Ste. Marie man who had served 12 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Valin Johnson, his 4-year-old niece.
Levy began his investigation after learning Mullins-Johnson’s lawyer had spent more than two years unsuccessfully trying to locate evidence that could show his client was innocent. What followed was a series of stories that documented how coroner’s officials ultimately located the missing evidence in the Mullins-Johnson case and independent tests of the evidence showed that Valin Johnson had died of natural causes.
Justice Minister Irwin Cotler concluded that there had been a miscarriage of justice in his case. Ontario Chief Coroner Barry McLellan also announced a widespread review of autopsies involving homicides and suspicious deaths of children.
Victoria Times Colonist and The Vancouver Sun: Two competing newspapers, working independently, each produced a series of stories about problems affecting child protection in British Columbia that resulted in sweeping reviews of the system.
The Times Colonist published more than 70 stories by journalists Lindsay Kines and Jeff Rud on BC’s underfunded and poorly administered child protection system while Lori Culbert and Miro Cernetig of the Vancouver Sun focused in great depth on three-year-old Savannah Hall who died under mysterious circumstances in her Prince George foster home. Both dailies were awarded Citations of Merit.
Michener Award Night Photo Gallery
Cdn. Medical Assoc. Journal
The Vancouver Sun
Judges for the 2005 Michener Award
Russell Mills (chair), Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Media and Design, Algonquin College, and former Publisher of the Ottawa Citizen; Arch MacKenzie, former Ottawa Bureau Chief, The Canadian Press and The Toronto Star; 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 media of any size are eligible. Special consideration is given to the news resources available to the entry.