Ottawa, May 1, 2017 – The Michener Awards Foundation today announced the finalists for the 2016 Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism.
The finalists are: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Toronto Star and Radio-Canada; The Globe and Mail; The London Free Press; The National Observer; La Presse and; The Toronto Star.
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will host the Michener Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall on June 14 where the winner of the 2016 Michener Award will be announced and two Michener-Deacon Fellowships will be presented. The Fellowship winners will be announced May 15.
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.
The Michener Awards Ceremony will be held at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on June 14, 2017.
The following entries are the 2016 finalists:
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio-Canada, and The Toronto Star: Panama Papers
These three news outlets put a Canadian face on a global story, the leak of 11.5 million documents from a Panamanian law firm that detailed tax avoidance schemes by the wealthy. Their in-depth stories revealed Canadians not just as tax cheats and avoiders, but also identified Canadian lawyers, accountants and financial consultants involved in aggressively structuring offshore businesses to avoid taxes, with Canadian banks playing supporting roles. The series also highlighted the Canada Revenue Agency’s double standard in rarely pursuing high-income individuals.
After strong public reaction, the federal government announced additional millions for the CRA to hire more staff to investigate tax avoidance. So far almost 100 investigations directed at individuals identified in the Panama Papers leak are underway.
Globe and Mail: Shadow flipping
The series involved a deep exploration of questionable real estate sales practices in British Columbia, with a focus on the Lower Mainland. The Globe shed light on a booming industry rife with speculation where insufficient oversight allowed agents to sell properties before deals had closed and make tax-free profits in the process. The comprehensive examination raised public and political consciousness about self-regulation of the industry and unethical practices of agents. This series resulted in increased accountability and transparency for the real estate industry including a new provincial foreign buyer’s tax; government regulation of the real-estate industry; investigations by the Canada Revenue Agency; and probes into the misuse of farmland.
London Free Press: Indiscernible
In an era of shrinking newsrooms, the London Free Press made an extraordinary commitment to a two-year investigation into the life and death of Jamie High, a 40-year-old father, athlete and successful real estate agent in St Thomas, Ontario.
The eloquent, gripping and tragic series exposed serious shortfalls and produced changes in policing, bail, community and hospital mental health care, the relationships between hospitals and police, the role of courts, and the treatment of inmates. The London Free Press’s work exemplifies the critical value of local media relentlessly pursuing stories and seeking accountability to counter what too many others are willing to overlook and let slide as simply “indiscernible.”
National Observer: Pipeline Panel
Last year the National Observer reported a private meeting between former Quebec premier Jean Charest and members of a National Energy Board (NEB) panel. Charest was working for Trans Canada pipelines while also advising the NEB about how best to manage TransCanada’s Energy East hearings in Quebec in the face of strong opposition to the Alberta-New Brunswick oil pipeline.
By September the regulator’s chief executive and the entire federal hearings panel recused themselves from the process and the Energy East pipeline hearings were postponed. The National Observer’s meticulous reporting not only exposed the compromised position of NEB panelists, it raised questions about the pattern of cooperation between the NEB and the industry it is supposed to regulate.
La Presse: Enquête sur les appareils de loterie video
The in-depth investigation by La Presse revealed a lack of oversight into Quebec’s booming video lottery business, worth a billion dollars a year to the province. Hundreds of bars with terminals, many in poor neighborhoods, deliberately flouted rules intended to protect patrons from addiction, and the provincial regulatory agency ignored breaches, even for repeat offenders. The comprehensive series also exposed links between 70 bars with video lottery terminals (VLTs) and organized crime. In short order, the Minister of Public Security ordered regulations and zero-tolerance for violations. The Quebec government is to withdraw 1,100 VLTs from bars in vulnerable neighbourhoods, and 375 lottery machines will remain in storage.
The Toronto Star: Secrecy and SIU
Anger erupted in March 2016 when a probe by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) into the shooting death of Andrew Loku determined that the officer did not exceed “justifiable force” and no criminal charges would be laid. Persistent journalism by the Toronto Star exposed a lack of transparency in the civilian police watchdog’s public reporting process. The Star’s tenacious coverage contributed to significant actions, including the release of a redacted version of the SIU investigation, public access to Toronto police board reports of SIU investigations of Toronto police, and in April an independent review tabled its report with 129 recommendations to improve police oversight and transparency in Ontario.
Judges for the 2016 Michener Awards:
Kim Kierans (chair), Professor of Journalism and Vice-President at 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; Claude Papineau, former Vice-President for French Services of The Canadian Press and former Parliamentary Correspondent; Christopher Waddell, Professor and former 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; and Mary Lynn Young, Associate Professor of Journalism, former Associate Dean at UBC’s Faculty of Arts, and former director of UBC School of Journalism.
2016 Michener Awards
Recognizing outstanding and unbiased public service in journalism, the award is presented to news organizations rather than to individuals: newspapers, broadcasting stations and networks, news agencies, periodicals, magazines and online journalism sources.
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