Michener honours go to the Globe and Mail, Fellowships honour investigative journalist Annie Burns-Pieper and online journalist Tamara Baluja.
Ottawa, June 12, 2018 — The Globe and Mail has won the 2017 Michener Award for its series Unfounded, a massive investigation into the systematic mismanagement of sexual assault cases by Canadian police forces. The revelations led to the reopening of more than 400 sexual assault cases, changes in police policy and practices, and $100 million to combat gender-based violence.
“The judges concurred that this rigorous, in-depth investigation exemplifies the best in public service journalism and the critical value of media in effecting change,” said Alan Allnutt, president of the Michener Awards Foundation.
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, presented the Michener Award trophy to the Globe and Mail in a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on June 12. The media outlet was among six news organizations honoured at the ceremony. The Michener Award honours, celebrates and promotes excellence in Canadian public service journalism that makes a significant impact on the public good.
The Governor General also presented the 2018 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Journalism to print journalist Annie Burns-Pieper who will look into how Global Affairs Canada deals with Canadians abroad who run into trouble, and how it uses its discretion known as Royal or Crown prerogative in deciding when, and if, to intervene in incidents.
The 2018 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Journalism Education was awarded to Tamara Baluja to develop a workshop to teach journalism students the fundamentals of social media platforms, how to analyze metrics and how to create content for the appropriate audience and medium. Learning modules developed at the University of British Columbia will be shared with other Canadian journalism schools as well as media agencies.
2017 Michener Award honours Globe and Mail: Unfounded
In a massive investigation involving more than 250 Freedom of Information requests, the Globe and Mail’s Robyn Doolittle tracked dismissed, or “unfounded,” sexual assault cases handled by Canadian police. The result was this 2017 series—accompanied by the voices of experts and sexual assault complainants—which showed police were dismissing one in five such complaints. It also showed unfounded rates varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, raising questions about equity of access to justice. A follow-up survey revealed thousands of these cases had been misclassified and that one in three legitimate sexual assault reports had been wrongfully dismissed. The series spurred the federal government to pledge better police oversight, training and policies, along with $100 million to combat gender-based violence. Statistics Canada promised to resume collecting and publishing unfounded rates. In all, some 37 000 sexual assault cases were reviewed and more than 400 unfounded cases were reopened.
Michener Citations of Merit were presented to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Edmonton, Cogeco Media, Global News, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and Vancouver Sun.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Edmonton: Private Health, Public Risk?
The CBC Edmonton is being recognized for its investigative series focusing on Pure North, an alternative health foundation of a Calgary businessman. They have continued to publish stories while facing a defamation lawsuit.
Cogeco Media: Affair Gilbert Rozon
While monitoring the #Moiaussi / #Metoo movement on the web, journalist Émilie Perreault, of the Montréal radio station 98.5 FM, came across a post that spoke of an assault by an unnamed but “known, popular, rich man. Our Quebec Weinstein!” Over the course of the investigation, Ms. Perrault and journalist Monic Néron earned the trust of 10 courageous women who went on record to allege they had been harassed and sexually assaulted by Gilbert Rozon, a powerful Quebec businessman and cultural icon. The assaults allegedly took place between 1982 and 2016; two of the women were minors at the time. The day before the first broadcast, Rozon resigned from his private and public positions. Police are investigating over 20 complaints, with others under review. Following the story, the Quebec government created a $25-million emergency fund to help victims of sexual assault, and the head of the provincial law society called for changes to the “rigid” justice system.
Global News: Inadmissible
This multi-platform series exposed serious flaws in the way Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) handled permanent residency applications for people with disabilities and medical conditions. The investigation found that, each year, Canada rejected as many as 450 viable applicants as “medically inadmissible” because their condition would create “excessive demand” on Canada’s publicly funded health, education and social services. The Global News team revealed that, for years, immigration officials used faulty or outdated academic research to determine a “cost threshold,” and how these calculations had no credible basis. Following the series, IRCC reversed its decision in two cases profiled by Global News; a parliamentary study called for the repeal of the “excessive demand” section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; and the government has recognized that the law is ‘out of step’ with Canadian values and promised legislative changes to restore trust in the immigration system.
Globe and Mail: Tainted
How much oversight does Canada’s soon-to-be legalized marijuana industry require? Even as Health Canada was assuring citizens that federally regulated marijuana would be safe, Globe reporter Grant Robertson revealed one company was cutting corners by using illegal toxic pesticides —and scores of medical marijuana consumers were falling ill. Once the government learned of the problem, it withheld the information from the public. So Robertson plumbed his industry sources to track down former employees of the company, including one who admitted that staff hid the toxic chemical inside office ceiling tiles. One patient’s medical marijuana, independently tested by the Globe, contained no less than five banned pesticides. Robertson’s dogged investigative reporting resulted in stories which ultimately caused Health Canada to reverse course and institute new federal legislation for mandatory testing and new penalties of up to $1 million for violators. “Tainted”’s revelations also became the basis for a patients’ class-action lawsuit.
Toronto Star: Temp Nation
This year-long investigation revealed how companies are increasingly using temp agencies to hire employees as a way to limit company liability for workplace accidents, reduce employers’ responsibility and cut costs. The series followed Star reporter Sara Mojtehedzadeh as she went undercover at one of the continent’s largest industrial bakeries, Fiera Foods. Extensive research by Ms. Mojtehedzadeh and Star reporter Brendan Kennedy revealed in intimate detail how temps—mostly new Canadians, refugees and visible minorities—are being exploited, abused, injured and even killed on the job. Workers find they have no protection because the temp agency often turns out to be a post office box or an empty store in a strip mall. The series led to tougher provincial legislation to protect temp workers, strengthen provisions to outlaw pay discrimination, and remove financial incentives for workplaces to use temps. Fiera Foods immediately committed to an independent audit of its health and safety practices, and a review of its use of temp agencies.
Vancouver Sun: Financial Crime and Globe and Mail: Easy Money
In these two series, the Vancouver Sun and Globe and Mail exposed a failure of Canadian security regulators and governments to protect investors from white-collar crime. Sun reporter Gordon Hoekstra’s databases for B.C. uncovered unpaid penalties of more than a half-billion dollars over the past 10 years, and fraudsters with $31 million in assets. Globe and Mail reporters Grant Robertson and Tom Cardoso took the investigation of white-collar crime national, analyzing almost 30 years of security offences. Data revealed that one in nine white-collar criminals are repeat offenders who evade regulators and fines by moving provinces. Both series provided evidence that, across the country, the system of fines, bans and minimal jail time is not deterring white-collar criminals. The revelations sent shock waves through the investment community and governments. Several changes were made following this revelation: B.C.’s finance minister ordered the Securities Commission to improve its collections and enforcement. Manitoba’s minister of finance introduced amendments to the Securities Act; Ontario proposed new legislation for the Ontario Securities Commission; and the RCMP announced new efforts to fight stock-market abuses.
Judges for the 2017 Michener Awards:
Kim Kierans (interim chief judge), Professor of Journalism and former CBC news reporter and editor; Carole Beaulieu, former Publisher and Editor in chief of L’actualité Magazine; Margo Goodhand, former editor of the Winnipeg Free Press and the Edmonton Journal; and Claude Papineau, former Vice-President for French Services of The Canadian Press and former Parliamentary Correspondent.
Judges for the 2018 Michener-Deacon Fellowships:
Susan Mitton (chair), former regional director, CBC Maritimes; Michael Goldbloom, principal and vice-chancellor of Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Quebec, and former publisher of the Gazette and Toronto Star; Donna Logan, current member of the Michener board, former media executive of CBC, and founding director of the Graduate School of Journalism at UBC; Geneviève Rossier, directrice des communications, relations publiques et visibilite numerique a Bibliotheque et Archives National du Quebec, former directrice communications, marketing et contenus numeriques, La Place des Arts; and Romayne Smith Fullerton, associate professor, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario, and ethics editor at J-Source.
Recognizing outstanding and unbiased public service in journalism, the award is presented to news organizations: newspapers, broadcasting stations and networks, news agencies, periodicals, magazines and online journalism sources.
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