Ottawa, April 29, 2015 – The Michener Awards Foundation today announced six finalists for the 2014 Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism.
The finalists are: L’actualité, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC North, The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail and The Vancouver Sun.
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will host the Michener Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall on June 18 where the winner of the 2014 Michener Award will be announced and two Michener-Deacon Fellowships will be presented. The Fellowship winners will be announced in early May.
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 following entries are the 2014 finalists:
L’actualité: Crimes Sexuels dans l’armée
This eight-month investigation revealed a broken chain of command when it comes to how the military handles complaints of sexual assault and harassment. Soldiers gave detailed accounts of how their superiors pressured them to forgive and forget. Those who refused faced retaliation, some to the point of being declared unfit to serve and were discharged. L’actualité showed the culture of inhibition resulted in fewer than one in 10 soldiers reporting incidents. The series garnered swift response from senior government and military officials. The Chief of Defence announced an independent investigation. And one victim who had been discharged after complaining received an apology and was reinstated.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: Temporary Foreign Workers
The CBC’s sustained reporting illustrated how a decades-old government program designed largely to import those with specific technical and scientific training had become an easy way for employers to find foreign workers to fill low-skilled minimum wage jobs. It quickly became clear that the temporary foreign workers program was full of abuses and out of control. The stories generated widespread criticism across the country, and forced the Conservative government to change the program. But the issue is far from resolved as the problems and complaints related to labour shortages in selected regions of the country, as first revealed by the CBC, remain.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC North: Cape Dorset
CBC North examined the troubling death of an infant in the remote Nunavut hamlet of Cape Dorset to highlight the unique health-care challenges facing Canada’s northern communities. A chronic shortage of nurses, who provide most of the health care in isolated communities, makes it difficult for residents to speak out when they have serious concerns. It took the death of a three-month-old boy, the courage of a young Inuit mother to speak out, and the persistence of CBC North to shine a light on a problem that the government preferred to ignore. Through interviews and access-to-information requests, CBC North revealed that the nurse in question was the subject of numerous official complaints and had conditions placed on her nursing licence. Yet she was kept on the job and even promoted. The CBC stories, broadcast and published in both Inuktitut and English, prompted the Nunavut government to launch an independent review of the case.
The Canadian Press: Fair Elections Act
When the Conservative government introduced its “Fair Elections Act” to address problems highlighted after the 2011 election, The Canadian Press began an intensive examination of the proposed legislation. Committed to exploring and explaining the new and complicated rules, CP found the Act was anything but fair. Through its in-depth continuing coverage CP exposed government manipulation of expert evidence, and showed Canadians how the new bill advantaged the Conservative government at the expense of its opponents. The result was national protest, almost universal condemnation and ultimately government amendments to the Act to remove some of the Conservative government’s most egregious attempts to manipulate the new voting system to its advantage.
The Globe and Mail: Thalidomide
This compelling series chronicled the devastating legacy of the drug thalidomide whose victims were marked by a lapse in public policy in the 1950s-60s and were all but forgotten. With great sensitivity, the Globe and Mail gave survivors and their families a national voice as they spoke of the growing physical, mental and financial toll. The public and political response was immediate. Within nine days the Thalidomide Victims Association met with the government and that evening MPs voted unanimously to support fair compensation for survivors. In March the government announced survivors would receive a lump sum payment of $125,000 and the creation of a $168-million fund to cover ongoing medical assistance.
The Vancouver Sun: Foster Children
The series ‘From Care to Where?’ documents the plight of foster children when they turn 19 and leave the care of the province of British Columbia. Through heartbreaking personal narratives and official data, the Vancouver Sun’s two-month investigation examined the dire outcomes of “aging-out”, including homelessness, unemployment, jail, drug abuse and poverty. But the series went beyond that. A cost-benefit analysis showed that taxpayers would save money if B.C. extended foster care support for 19- to 24-year olds. The series spurred further action from various community groups, as well as tuition waivers at eight universities and colleges, and a provincial trust fund for post-secondary education for foster children past 19.
Judges for the 2014 Michener Awards:
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; 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 Dean at UBC’s Faculty of Arts, former director at UBC School of Journalism.
2014 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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