Ottawa, June 12, 2012. The Times Colonist in Victoria has won the 2011 Michener Award for its reporting on a B.C. government policy that reduced support for people with developmental disabilities, Russell Mills, President of the Michener Awards Foundation, announced today.
The coveted Michener Award was presented to Les Leyne, columnist for the Times Colonist, by His Excellency, The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. The Victoria, B.C. newspaper was among six news organizations honoured at the ceremony. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Leyne said that…”Everyone in the industry lives for a night like this and it’s a hugely respected honour”. (The full text)
The Michener Award, founded in 1970 by the late Roland Michener, then Governor-General, goes to news organizations of all sizes for articles, features and reports that make a significant impact on the public good and achieve identifiable results.
The Times Colonist received the award for reporting on the plight of people with developmental disabilities when the B.C. government changed its policy to save money and to address a client backlog at its underfunded agency, Community Living B.C. People were moved from their long-term residences to less expensive accommodation, lost needed assistance once they turned 19 or were left in jail or hospital because there was no where to go.
The newspaper demonstrated journalistic excellence and achieved clear results on behalf of a powerless and voiceless segment of society. The sustained coverage resulted in the reversal of government policy, a substantial increase in financial support for those with developmental disabilities, and administrative changes in the ministry of social development and Community Living B.C. Reporter Lindsay Kines was part of the editorial team that developed the Colonist’s award-winning series of reports. He explains the background to this series.
In his welcoming address to journalists and invited guests, Governor General David Johnston commented on the present state of journalism and the rise of social media where sometimes rumour becomes fact and fact becomes rumour. The truth, he said, may often get blurred adding..”with so much information – and misinformation – at our fingertips, more than at any other point in our collective history, journalists have an even greater responsibility, not just to the public, but also to the truth”. (The full text)
2012 Michener-Deacon Fellowships:
The Governor General also presented the first 2012 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Journalism Education to Melanie Coulson, a senior online editor at the Ottawa Citizen. Ms. Coulson will spend the winter term at Carleton University’s School of Journalism conducting research into the growing involvement of audiences and citizens in the journalism enterprise and teaching an undergraduate course in basic reporting. (The full story)
The 2012 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Journalism was awarded by His Excellency to Laura Eggertson, a freelance writer who will investigate Aboriginal Youth Suicide as a significant health crisis in Canada. A former Nieman Fellowship winner, she plans to research and write a series of print and on-line articles, and create a radio documentary, based on the experiences of Aboriginal communities dealing with suicide. (The full Story)
Changing of the Guard:
Three generations of Foundation board treasurers were on hand for the 42nd annual Michener award ceremony held at Government House in Ottawa. Grant McDonald and Ed Zebrowski have minded the books for the Michener Awards Foundation since 1988. Chris Rathwell, the newest member of the board, begins his first term as treasurer.
The Michener Foundation, which oversees the granting of awards and fellowships, is a non-profit organization. The governing Board of directors and award judging panels are staffed by volunteers. More.
Citations of Merit were presented to:
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Vancouver for exposing a toxic and long-standing environment of systemic sexual harassment of women within the RCMP. The issue took centre stage nationally following an exclusive CBC Vancouver interview with a former high-profile RCMP spokesperson who recounted years of on-the-job sexual misconduct from fellow officers. The revelations triggered a flood of similar stories from other female officers. The CBC also found several lawsuits underway alleging constant sexual harassment, cover-ups, and minimal punishment for offenders. The CBC’s compelling series achieved swift and meaningful results: an investigation by the Chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, a pledge by the federal Public Safety Minister to conduct his own sweeping investigation, and a promise by the new Commissioner of the RCMP to make harassment issues his first priority. Reporter Natalie Clancy talks about the making of the series.
The Globe and Mail achieved clear results with its investigation into Ontario government policies for funding cancer drugs for patients. The newspaper’s dogged and exemplary reporting exposed flaws and confusion within existing policies concerning the funding of Herceptin, an expensive drug to treat breast cancer. As a result, the province changed its funding policy for the drug, created a new evidence-building program designed to improve decision-making about when to pay for certain cancer treatments, and directed Cancer Care Ontario to review its guidelines for approving new drugs. Reporter Lisa Priest provides the background to the Globe’s investigation.
La Presse was honoured for its investigation of the aging Champlain Bridge in Montreal. It was only when the newspaper revealed the findings of two disturbing engineering reports held secret by Transport Canada that readers discovered that the bridge, the most heavily travelled span in Canada, was falling apart and in desperate need of replacement. La Presse shed light on an urgent public safety problem that had not previously been revealed to the public. The coverage had a resounding impact: it sparked an intense public debate and became an important issue in the federal election campaign and in October the federal government promised to build a new bridge by 2021. More about this story from reporter Bruno Bisson.
The Toronto Star took readers into the heart of an unaccountable non-profit agency known as ORNGE that was receiving $150 million a year from Ontario taxpayers to run the province’s air ambulance service. Stories revealed a stunning lack of government oversight for a critical public service and demonstrated that senior managers were benefitting more than the very people the air ambulance service was supposed to help. The Star’s tenacious reporting led to the removal of ORNGE’s management and board. A protocol that kept air ambulances grounded was ended and a new accountability structure put in place. The provincial auditor general expanded his probe into activities at ORNGE and a criminal investigation is underway. Reporter Kevin Donovan explains the story behind the story.
The Windsor Star showed courage and determination in exposing a web of brutality and deceit within the Windsor Police Service. The shocking beating of a local doctor by a Windsor detective led the newspaper to court documents and to uncover more incidents that validated a disturbing pattern of violence against innocent civilians, unethical behaviour, and cover-ups within the police service over a number of years. The stories led to the resignation of the police chief, an investigation by the Ontario Office of the Independent Police Review Director, and an overhaul of the Windsor Police Service’s integrity and ethics policies. More about the Star’s coverage from reporter Sarah Sacheli.
Judges for the 2011 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 2012 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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