The Michener Awards Foundation honours, celebrates and promotes excellence in Canadian public service journalism. The Michener Award was established in 1970 by the late Right Honourable Roland Michener, Governor General of Canada from 1967 to 1974. It was initially handled by the Federation of Press Clubs. But in 1983, the responsibility of administering the awards was transferred to the newly organized and newly titled ‘Michener Awards Foundation/La Fondation des Prix Michener’.
Originally founded by Letters Patent, the Michener Awards Foundation is now incorporated by articles of incorporation and a Certificate of Continuance from Corporations Canada pursuant to the Canada Not For Profit Corporations Act which came into force in 2011. (Michener Foundation Bylaws)
The Michener Award
The first Michener Award was presented in 1971 for journalism in the calendar year 1970. It was launched under the auspices of the late Roland Michener, then-governor general. The Award honours and celebrates outstanding and unbiased public service in journalism. It is presented annually and since its inception, a rich variety of news organizations have had their names inscribed on Michener trophies – print and broadcast, large and small, French and English, East and West. The Michener was the first national journalism award open to both broadcast and print media.
Entries are judged particularly for their professionalism, their impact on the public, and the degree of arms-length public benefit that is generated. Daily and weekly newspapers, news agencies, radio and television stations and networks and periodicals are eligible. Other criteria include the resources available to the news organizations, an effort to level the playing field for small, medium and large applicants.
There is usually only one annual winner for the Award. On occasion and at the discretion of the judging panel, the Award has been shared by two competing organizations on the same or related stories. For instance, in 2007, the judges decided to honour two newspapers for separate entries covering different phases of the Afghan detainee issue. CBC and Canadian Press shared the 2008 Michener Award for a joint project that analyzed and reported on the use of Taser stun guns. Split decisions may also occur if the panel has been unable arrive at a decision between two entries judged to be of equal merit. An entry designated as a runner-up is awarded Honourable Mention. Citations of Merit may also be awarded by the judges to selected finalists.
The awards are to news organizations, rather than to individuals. A comparable award in the United States is the Pulitzer gold medal for public service by a newspaper. (see award entry rules)
The Michener-Baxter Special Award
In 1983, the Michener Awards Foundation established the Special Award to be presented on occasion, and at the discretion of the Board of Directors, to an individual whose achievement exemplifies the best in public service journalism. In 2010, this award was renamed the ‘Michener-Baxter Special Award’ in honour of the late Clive Baxter. Mr. Baxter accepted the very first Michener Award on behalf of the Financial Post in 1971. He and his family have been generous supporters of the Michener Awards Foundation.
The Michener – Deacon Fellowship
The Fellowship of the Michener Awards Foundation was introduced in 1987. It is known today as the Michener-Deacon Fellowship (named after the late Roland Michener and the late Paul Deacon, a senior media executive, former Michener Awards Foundation president and generous benefactor). The Fellowship is to encourage excellence in investigative print and broadcast journalism that serves the public interest through values that benefit the community. The Foundation provides a $30,000 study-leave fellowship (if warranted) for a four-month period. Applicants should be mature journalists interested in studies or programs that benefit the community at large, and at the same time enhance their competence. (see fellowship entry rules).
The Award Ceremony
Each year, the Governor General honours laureates at a ceremony at Rideau Hall. Roland Michener’s successors have graciously adopted and maintained a personal interest in the Michener Awards Foundation and its commitment to Canadian journalistic excellence
The Michener Awards Foundation
130 Albert Street
Tel.: (613) 762-9744
Fax: (613) 236-2556