The Michener Awards Foundation today announced two Canadian journalists will receive the 2022 Michener – Deacon Fellowships for Investigative Journalism.
Stéphane Blais, an environmental journalist with The Canadian Press, will focus on the environmental impacts and economic benefits of mining lithium; and freelance journalist Rob Csernyik will investigate the evolution of the relationship between gambling and suicides in Canada.
The Michener fellowship jury appreciated that Blais’s project will focus on a key element used in the manufacture of electric batteries, the demand for which is currently exploding around the world. These mines are mainly in Indigenous territories, and little is known of their environmental and economic impact. Blais’s work will ultimately be published in French and English through the various platforms of La Presse Canadienne and The Canadian Press.
Csernyik’s project seeks to identify how the toxic relationship between gambling and suicides has evolved, and investigate what, if anything, governments and public health authorities are doing to address the problem. The jury pointed out that without the work of journalists over the years, gambling suicides would still be in the shadows. Csernyik’s project will be published as a long-form investigation in The Walrus Magazine and Reader’s Digest Canada, with interest from the Local News Data Hub to help develop and share the data set, and create data-driven, localized stories on the issue.
The 2022 Michener fellowship recipients will be honoured at the annual Michener Awards ceremony. Plans for this year’s ceremony are underway, and further information will be available soon.
The finalists for the 2021 Michener Award will be announced next week.
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. This is the Michener Award’s 52nd year.
The Michener – Deacon Investigative Journalism fellowship is supported by the Michener Awards Foundation and the family of the late Paul S. Deacon. It allows journalists to devote up to four months to a reporting project. Applicants are required to undertake a project that aspires to the criteria of the annual Michener Award for journalism with its emphasis on making an impact for the public good. The fellowships are worth $40,000 each plus up to $5,000 in expenses.
The Michener – L. Richard O’Hagan Fellowship for Journalism Education, supported by BMO Financial Group, is dedicated to the advancement and enrichment of the education of Canadian journalists and journalism students. It is named for the late L. Richard O’Hagan, distinguished press secretary to Prime Ministers Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, and long-time senior vice-president at Bank of Montreal. He began his career as a reporter at the former Toronto Telegram. Winning projects are designed to expand the knowledge of newsroom products, processes and practices. This fellowship was not awarded this year, but will be open for submissions again for the 2022 awards cycle.
Last year’s Michener – L. Richard O’Hagan fellowship supported the creation of a free and accessible fact-checking guide and educational materials for student and early-career journalists focused on best practices for editorial fact-checking, in partnership with The Walrus magazine and Carleton University.
Our first Michener – L. Richard O’Hagan fellowship, awarded in 2020, went to the J-Source/Canada Press Freedom Project, which will be unveiled later this spring at the Canadian Association of Journalists conference in Montreal. It will track examples where press freedom is threatened across the country, and create a database documenting violations of press freedom.
Judges for the 2022 Michener Fellowships:
- Geneviève Rossier (chair), Editor and General manager, La Presse canadienne, French services (recused from Deacon deliberations);
- Raymond Brassard, former Executive Editor of the Montreal Gazette and editorial consultant at the National Newspaper Awards;
- Hassan Serraji, Fondateur et directeur de l’Observatoire québécois de la diversité ethnoculturelle;
- Margo Goodhand, Chief Judge, Michener Awards