Ottawa, June 11, 2014. The Toronto Star has won the 2013 Michener Award for its extensive coverage of the activities and behaviour of the Mayor of Canada’s largest city that resulted in a police investigation and Rob Ford being stripped of all powers, Russell Mills, President of the Michener Awards Foundation, announced today.
In a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, presented the coveted Michener Award to the Toronto Star. Editor Michael Cooke accepted the Award on behalf of the newspaper. He said that in spite of the changes shaking the news business, “the pursuit of truth cannot and must not change….for the sake of our country. (the complete text)
The Michener Award is presented annually for journalism that makes a significant impact on the public good.
The Governor General also awarded Citations of Merit to Canadian Press, CTV News, the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star.
In his welcoming address to the finalists and assembled guests, the Governor General said that…”The best journalists are seekers of truth…shining a light on the news that matters, not just the news that sells. You hold those in positions of power to account. You expose wrongdoings, waste and inefficiencies. And you do what you can to make this a better country and a more just world.” (the full text)
The Michener-Baxter Special Award
In a surprise announcement, at least for the award recipients, Russell Mills, the President of the Michener Awards Foundation, said that this year the board decided to award the Michener-Baxter Special Award to Tim Kotcheff and Alain Guilbert – two people who have played a large role in encouraging public service journalism through the Michener Award. This special award, established in 1983, is only presented on occasion at the discretion of the Board of Directors. (all the details)
Mr. Mills also took the opportunity to thank Governor General Johnston for his continuing strong support of the Michener Award and the annual ceremony – now in its 44th year. He also praised the outstanding work of all the finalists. (the full text)
2014 Michener-Deacon Fellowships
The Governor General also presented the 2014 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Journalism Education to Francine Pelletier, a Montreal-based journalist.
She will devote her time at Concordia University organizing workshops on big data journalism and elements of digital information in order to help young journalists in finding tools to better contribute to mass and public information. The full story.
The 2014 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Journalism was awarded by his Excellency to CBC journalist Rita Celli. Ms Celli plans to examine public policy questions raised by the profits generated by the mining industry in Ontario.
Ms Celli has held numerous reporting and hosting positions in radio and television with CBC in Sudbury and Ottawa. The full story.
The Toronto Star
The Toronto Star won the 2013 Michener Award for its reporting that revealed a serious public concern about the conduct of the city’s mayor Rob Ford. Despite intimidation and an organized campaign trying to undermine the credibility of the reporting, the Toronto Star exposed Ford’s public drunkenness, boorish behaviour, abuses of his office and existence of a video of him smoking crack cocaine accompanied by members of a drug gang. The Star did not waiver as the mayor countered every story with vehement denials and attacks. Behind the scenes the Toronto police launched an investigation that proved all the Star’s allegations to be true. Going to court to win the release of details about the police investigation, the Star’s work led the council of Canada’s largest city to remove all powers from the mayor, leaving him just a figurehead. Reporter Kevin Donovan talks about the genesis of the Star’s coverage of Mayor Ford.
The 2013 Michener Citations of Merit were presented by the Governor General to the following:
The Canadian Press was honoured for exposing the broken commitments of the federal government and National Defence to the country’s newest generation of veterans who served in Afghanistan. The series entitled The Long Road Home, revealed that Canadian veterans are being shortchanged by the government and the country they served when it comes to mental health services, support for the disabled, jobs after leaving the forces, adequate pensions for those who serve, assistance to the families of soldiers and even support for the burial of impoverished veterans. In too many cases the tragic result of this abandonment is suicide. Keeping a spotlight on the issue The Canadian Press generated a sustained response from outraged Canadians, and forced the federal government to improve a range of programs and services that support veterans. CP reporter Murray Brewster talks about his experience in Afghanistan and the soldiers he met there.
CTV News was honoured for its news-making coverage of the Senate expense claim scandal involving Senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Mac Harb. It also revealed a backroom deal in which the Prime Minister’s then chief of staff personally covered the $90,000 that Duffy owed to taxpayers. CTV’s reporting contributed to significant action: investigations by the RCMP, the federal Ethics Commissioner, and a Senate committee; criminal charges against Brazeau and Harb; the suspension of three Senators — Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy — and the retirement of Harb; the departure of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright; and reforms to Senate expense reporting. Through its coverage, CTV demonstrated the important role that journalists can play in holding government officials accountable to the public they serve. Robert Fife and the story behind the Senate expense scandal.
The Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald
The Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald received the Michener Citation of Merit for an explosive six-part series of articles called Fatal Care. Their collaborative investigation revealed that 145 children in foster care died in the last 14 years, three times more than the province reported. The victims were mostly aboriginal children, one in three were infants, and one-third died because of unsafe sleeping conditions. The investigation exposed a byzantine and secretive death review system that is accountable to no one, and outdated laws that prevent parents from talking about their child’s death. The sensitive and thorough reporting pressured the government to open death records for public scrutiny, prompted a provincial roundtable on child welfare reform, and led to calls for new legislation to restructure the system and to update the law covering publication bans. With the story behind the ‘Fatal Care’ project – reporter Karen Kleiss.
Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail was honoured for its investigation exposing the volatility of Bakken oil shipped in massive trains from North Dakota helped explain why the 2013 rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic killed 47 people and caused so much damage. Due to a lack of effective government and industry regulations, a growing number of oil trains were carrying explosive cargo through populated towns and cities with remarkably little oversight.
Over a four-month period, Globe reporters travelled to four provinces and three states, filed access to information searches, withstood industry bullying and government stalling, uncovered earlier warnings about the dangers, and developed key sources willing to speak out about inadequate regulation, expedient oil-testing shortcuts and lack of oversight in the transportation chain. The goal was to prevent another tragedy. Reaction from the Canadian government was swift as it moved to declare crude oil a highly dangerous substance and take measures, along with U.S. authorities, to introduce tough safety and testing regulations for oil trains. With the background on the Globe’s Lac-Mégantic investigation – senior writer, Jacquie McNish.
The Windsor Star provided a powerful voice for a community fighting to keep cancer-related thoracic surgery in the city. As part of a consolidation plan, Cancer Care Ontario directed Windsor hospitals to send their patients to London, a two-hour drive away. When the Windsor medical community resisted, Cancer Care Ontario threatened to withdraw funding for all cancer surgeries in the city.
The Windsor Star’s persistent and comprehensive coverage highlighted inconsistencies and potential health risks in the Cancer Care Ontario plan. In doing so, the newspaper galvanized a community-wide protest that eventually caused the agency, and the provincial government, to reverse its decision. Officials from the local medical community credited the Windsor Star for playing a leadership role in securing a positive outcome for cancer patients in the region. Brian Cross talks about the issues driving the Star’s coverage.
The Michener Award, founded in 1970 by the late Roland Michener, then governor-general, honours excellence in public-service journalism. The judges’ decisions are heavily influenced by the degree of public benefit generated by the print, broadcast and online entries submitted for consideration.
Michener Award Night Photo Gallery
Photos by Patrick Doyle
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Judges for the 2013 Michener Awards
Kim Kierans (chair), Professor School of Journalism and Vice-President University of King’s College, 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.
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