For 50 years, the Michener Awards have honoured outstanding and unbiased journalism that results in positive change for the public good. In 1987, the Michener Awards Foundation began offering fellowships to allow mature journalists to take a leave from work to study and help enhance their professional skills.
The Michener Awards and Fellowships are administered by the Michener Awards Foundation in partnership with the Rideau Hall Foundation.
The Michener Award honours, celebrates and promotes excellence in Canadian public service journalism. The first Michener Award was presented in 1971 and was launched under the auspices of the late Roland Michener, then-governor general.
It was important that the award go to a news organization and not to an individual. It was the view of Michener and the Press Club committee that excellence in journalism is achieved through the commitment of everyone in a news organization – writers, editors, and researchers – the staff who create the climate for success. In essence, the award recognizes the importance of a team effort.
Learn more about eligibility for the Michener Award here.
The Michener Awards Foundation first began offering study-leave fellowships in 1987 to allow mature journalists to take four months of out-of-office study to help enhance their competence.
Today, the Michener Awards Foundation offers two fellowships: the Michener–Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Reporting, and the Michener–L. Richard O’Hagan Fellowship for Journalism Education. Each fellowship is worth $40,000, with up to an additional $5,000 in eligible expenses.
Learn more about eligibility for the Fellowships here.
The Right Honourable Roland Michener was appointed Governor General in 1967, the same year that Canada celebrated 100 years of Confederation. He presided over the first presentation ceremonies for the Order of Canada, the Order of Military Merit, and Decorations for Bravery, as well as the first Michener Award ceremony.
He believed that his role as Governor General put him in a unique position to inspire Canadians by applauding their best efforts. His encouragement of excellence also extended to journalism with the creation of the Michener Awards for Journalism in 1970.
Planning for the Michener Award was well underway when Wendy Michener, daughter to Roland and Nora Michener and a journalist and broadcaster, died suddenly in 1969. Michener continued to support the award after his term as governor general ended, and attended every awards ceremony until his death in 1991.
Michener served as Governor General from 1967 to 1974. Previously, he had been a Member of Parliament and Speaker of the House of Commons from 1957 to 1962. Michener also served as High Commissioner to India and Canada’s first Ambassador to Nepal.
In 1970, as plans were underway at Rideau Hall to establish an annual award for excellence in meritorious public service journalism, Canadian sculptor John Matthews was commissioned to design the trophy. Matthews was only 28 years old at the time and this was his first commission, though he had studied and worked as a sculptor in U.S., England, and Canada for several years.
For the Michener Award, he designed a rectangle plaque cast in bronze and set on a white marble base, nine inches in height all together. One side features antique typeface placed in a random pattern, representing newsprint and the written word. On the same side is an engraved inscription in Canada’s two official languages: The Michener Award for Journalism – Le Prix Michener du Journalisme.
The other side of the trophy features several lines crossing each other and leading to a series of indentations which represent separate groups of people – suggesting communication by air waves and electronics.
In 1983, when the Michener Awards Foundation created a new award to honour an individual whose lifetime work exemplified the best in public service journalism, Matthews was commissioned once again to design the trophy which would later be known as the Michener-Baxter Special Award.
It is similar to the original Michener trophy, though it is circular as opposed to rectangular. One side of the bronze plaque carries a display of old typeface, part of which spells out the name “Michener.” Engraved on the opposite side is a map of Canada.
In 1983, the administration of the Michener Award was transferred from the National Press Club to the newly established Michener Awards Foundation (MAF). In 2020, the MAF joined forces with the Rideau Hall Foundation to strengthen the Awards and ensure the program’s ability to support and celebrate excellence in Canadian journalism well into the future.
President: Pierre-Paul Noreau
Vice-President and Chief Judge: Margo Goodhand
Immediate Past President: Alan Allnutt
Treasurer: Ali Duret
Secretary: Kim Kierans
Madeleine Blais Morin