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T HE C A N A D I A N A SSOCIAT ION OF JOURN A LIS TS • L’A S S O CIATIO N CA N A D IEN N E D ES J O U R NAL I ST E S
2015 AWARD S ED ITIO N • V O L.17, N O . 5
T E R R O R I N O T TAWA
The Halifax Chronicle Herald’s
editorial was a top
award-winner in 2015
2015 AWARDS EDITION • VOLUME 17, NUMBER FIVE
Table of contents
A PUBLICATION OF
THE CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF JOURNALISTS
L’ASSOCIATION CANADIENNE DES JOURNALISTES
Peter Jacobsen, Bersenas
Jacobsen Chouest Thomson
Blackburn LL P
ART DIRECTION and DESIGN
Britney Dennison, Bruce MacKinnon, Charles Rusnell, Enza Uda, Dave Seglins, Jesse McLean, John Lehmann, Jon Wells,
Kevin Rollason, Kim Bolan, Ric Esther Bienstock, Shelley Page, Stan Behal, Teri Pecoskie, Jim Coyle, Trina Roache
PHOTO AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE:
SCARRED FOR LIFE: The black market can expose organ sellers and recipients to sub-standard medical practice.
PHOTO CREDIT: Associated Producers
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Page 8 CAJ - DON MCGILLIVRAY AWARD AND COMMUNITY BROADCAST
THE AURA OF POWER: CBC Edmonton’s Charles Rusnell explains how he and Jennie Russell used freedom-of-information requests, sources and lots of shoe leather to expose the spending that ultimately forced Alison Redford to resign as premier of Alberta.
Page 10 CAJ – TEXT FEATURE
A FATHER’S WORST NIGHTMARE: Amos Mustapha had not seen his teen daughter since wishing her good luck just before her final
exam. Jesse McLean describes the kidnapping, the pain and the hope for a happy ending.
Page 12 CAJ – OPEN BROADCAST FEATURE
TRAFFICKING IN KIDNEYS: Ric Esther Bienstock tells the stories of people on both sides of the international kidney trade debate.
Page 16 CAJ – OPEN BROADCAST NEWS
SPEAKING OUT: A 21-year-old fast-food worker from B.C. became the reluctant whistleblower whose story forced
McDonalds to change the way it uses temporary foreign workers. By Enza Uda
Page 18 CAJ - CWA CANADA / CAJ AWARD FOR LABOUR REPORTING
EXHAUSTION ON THE RAILS: Locomotive operators opened about falling asleep at the controls. By Dave Seglins
COMPASSIONATE COMRADES COME TO LIFE: Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist who was guarding the National War Memorial outside the
Parliament buildings in Ottawa, was shot and killed in a terror attack on Oct. 22, 2014, that ended in a fatal shoot-out on Parliament Hill.
PHOTO CREDIT: Bruce MacKinnon -- The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, N.S.
PHOTO AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE:
THE FORGOTTEN MAN: Robert Sinclair holds a portrait of his first cousin Brian Sinclair at a news conference. Brian Sinclair, a disabled aboriginal man, died in Sept. 2008, after waiting 34 hours in the emergency room of the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg
PHOTO CREDIT: WAYNE.GLOWACKI/Winnipeg Free Press
2015 AWARDS EDITION
2015 AWARDS EDITION • VOLUME 16, NUMBER FOUR
Page 20 CAJ – ONLINE MEDIA
CHARTING CHINA’S GREEN REVOLUTION: You’d never guess it from the country’s infamous smog-filled cities, but green
activists are pushing for cleaner air – and getting results. By Britney Dennison
Page 22 CAJ – PHOTOJOURNALISM
The Globe and Mail’s John Lehmann explains how a fish bowl allowed him to get up close to spawning salmon.
Page 24 CAJ – JHR/ CAJ AWARD FOR HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTING
THE JORDAN’S PRINCIPLE: The policy to treat indigenous disabled children was sorely lacking. By Trina Roache
Page 26 NNA – EDITORIAL CARTOONING AND JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
COMPASSIONATE COMRADES COME TO L IFE: Chronicle Herald editorial cartoonist, Bruce MacKinnon, looks back at how he
sketched the cartoon that captured a compassionate spirit in the aftermath of the fatal attack at the National War Memorial.
Page 28 NNA – MULTIMEDIA FEATURE AND CAJ / MARKETWIRED DATA JOURNALISM AWARD A DEEP DIVE INTO EDUCATION: Teri Pecoskie used data to tell stories about student achievment.
Page 30 NNA – SPORTS
TWO TEAMS, TWO DREAMS: The Toronto Star profiled two hockey teams where the dream of making it to the NHL survives the
obscurity, heartache – and the occasional harrowing road trip. By Jim Coyle
Page 32 NNA – INVESTIGATIONS AND CAJ OPEN MEDIA CATEGORY
PROFILING A KILLER: The Hamilton Spectator’s Jon Wells found out what makes one of the city’s most notorious murderers tick –
and why he sports a tattoo of the word “Remorseless”.
Page 34 NNA – EXPLANATORY WORK
THE INEXPLICABLE DEATH OF BRIAN SINCLAIR: How could someone die in the waiting room of Winnipeg’s busiest hospital
emergency department after waiting 34 hours for treatment? The Winnipeg Press’ Kevin Rollason dug for answers.
Page 36 NNA – BEAT REPORTING
COVERING THE BAD GUYS: The Vancouver Sun’s intrepid crime reporter, Kim Bolan, takes on the city’s gangs – and cops.
Page 38 NNA – SHORT FEATURE
REMEMBERING POLYTECHNIQUE: Former newspaper reporter, Shelley Page, conducts a postmortem of the original piece she
wrote about the Dec. 6, 1989, shooting of 14 female engineering students. Her verdict? She got it all wrong.
Page 40 NNA – SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
THE AGONY OF DEFEAT: Toronto Sun photographer Stan Behal says the best shots can come from from covering the losers.
Visit online for details about
how to apply and enter.
PHOTOS AT THE TOP: REMEMBERING POLYTECHNIQUE: (From left the right) Anne-Marie Edward, Anne-Marie Lemay,
Annie St-Arnaud, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Daigneault, Barbara Lkucznik, Geneviève Bergeron, Helen Colgan, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair,
Maud Haviernick, Michèle Richard, Nathalie Croteau, Sonia Pelletier
PHOTO CREDITS: Ecole Polytechnique
2015 AWARDS EDITION
THE JORDAN PRINCIPLE’S PROMISE OF COMPASSIONATE CARE: Maurina
Beadle and her son Jeremy Meawasige live on the Pictou Landing First Nation in
Nova Scotia. The Aboriginal Peoples Network chronicled their plight in “Outside the
The First Word
In praise of award-winning journalism
By David McKie
very year Media magazine devotes
an entire issue to award-winners
whose accounts of how they got their stories offer us hope, inspiration and practical
advice in an age of debilitating cutbacks,
shrinking news holes and diminishing
And once again the contributors, who
interrupted their busy schedules to share
their backstories, didn’t disappoint.
It should also be noted that the winners
were chosen from an outstanding roster of
finalists, who receive shout-outs with links
to their stories we encourage you to read.
The stories that took the top prizes for
the Canadian Association of Journalists
and the National Newspaper Awards were
noteworthy for many reasons.
For instance, it was the first time that
newspaper judges crowned an editorial
cartoon as the National Newspaper Awards
Journalist of the Year.
The Halifax Chronicle Herald’s Bruce
MacKinnon depicted the dramatic aftermath of a shooting near Parliament Hill.
So let’s start with MacKinnon’s backstory.
Oct. 22, 2014, started out like any other
day for the editorial cartoonist, who has
plied his trade at the Halifax Chronicle
Herald for 29 years.
Not partial to crafting cartoons about
murder and mayhem, his first impulse was
to ignore the events making news in the
However, it soon became clear that the
drama was too important to dismiss. After
consultations with colleagues and lastminute decision-making, he settled on an
idea that turned out to be the right call:
the depiction of fatally wounded honour
guard, Nathan Cirillo, being aided by
one of the statutes on the war monument,
which is also featured on Media magazine’s cover.
In this case, it is fair to say that MacKinnon’s editorial cartoon spoke more
loudly than words.
But words did speak loudly in newspapers, on websites, and on television
and radio broadcasts, telling stories that
shaped public policy, raised awareness,
ignited discussions and held politicians to
When it comes to the latter, it’s only fitting to shift to Alberta.
The Canadian Association of Journalist’s overall winners were CBC Edmonton’s I-unit members, Charles Rusnell
and Jennie Russell, for “Aura of Power”,
an account of the questionable expenses
that led to the downfall of former Alberta
Premier Alison Redford.
The dynamic duo uses old-fashioned
shoe-leather reporting fuelled by provincial freedom-of-information requests to
break stories like “Skypalace” that appeared on television, radio and online.
“At any given time, we have about 150
active requests,” explains Rusnell in his
write-up on page eight.
“In the case of Skypalace, our source
told us to request the communications
between Redford’s executive assistant and
the architect responsible for the penthouse.
We filed six separate requests to two
departments, which yielded the documents
that underpinned the story and made it
Also refutable is the controversy over
organ donations and the desperation that
sets in among individuals whose very lives
depend on finding a new kidney to replace
the old one.
“Tales from the Organ Trade” explored
grey and uncertain middle ground that sits
uncomfortably between the two extremes.
“The picture that emerged was not
black-and-white”, explains filmmaker Ric
Esther Bienstock about her award-winning
documentary, “but rather, a nuanced and
complex story that forced me to question
my own moral and ethical assumptions.”
In her quest to help us appreciate the
challenges of spinning such a nuanced
tale, Bienstock uses her write-up to give
us a peek inside the world of a filmmaker, whose never-ending quest for the
right characters, and the travel money to
interview them, determines the quality of
the final product, and in some instances,
whether the film gets made at all. Bienstock’s journey of discovery took her
around the world.
A little closer to home, the news stories
of indigenous peoples have produced too
much heartache and too-little discussion
about ways to reconcile past injustices.
A story that deserves much more attention as we seemingly head into a new era
of cooperation between the federal government and First Nations is the treatment
of the disabled individuals on reserves.
In her bid to shed light on the issue,
Trina Roache, a Halifax correspondent for
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network,
dug into the little-known Jordan’s Prin-
ciple, a concept which promises that no
disabled child in a First Nation community
shall be left behind.
Sadly, what Roache discovered was
federal- provincial buck-passing over who
should do what.
As was the case with CBC Edmonton’s
I-unit, Roache used a freedom-of-information law, this one at the federal level, to
uncover crucial details that informed her
She profiled the plight of Maurina
Beadle and her son Jeremy Meawasige
who live on the Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia.
When a stroke debilitated Maurina in
2010, she needed extra help to take care
of Jeremy at home. Unfortunately, the
provincial and federal governments argued
against footing the bill; that is, before a
court set them straight.
The unfathomable plight of the disabled
in the Aboriginal community was also
front and centre in Kevin Rollason’s Winnipeg Free Press story of Brian Sinclair, a
disabled aboriginal man who inexplicably
became a forgotten man at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg in September of
While Sinclair’s story was well-known,
at least on a superficial level, it was left to
a coroner’s inquest into his death to seek
answers to a crucial question: why was
he left to wait 34 hours in the Centre’s
emergency room for a treatable bladder
2015 SPRING EDITION
When the doctors finally got
around to seeing the patient who
had been under the supervision of
Manitoba’s Public Trustee Office,
he had been dead for so long that
rigor mortis was already setting
“During the days, weeks and
months of the inquest ,” writes
Rollason, “I began wondering
about the 199 other patients who
passed through the same emergency room doors that Sinclair
went through, but who did
His explanatory piece tackled
some of those questions, thus providing
context to a tragic event.
And tragedy also spurred Shelley Page
to revisit an event that goes back even
farther than 2008. In this case, the largest mass murder of women in Canadian
history: the Dec. 6, 1989, massacre of
engineering students at Montreal’s L’Ecole
Page initially wrote a story about the
massacre for her then-employer, Toronto
But something about that original coverage nagged at her as the 25th anniversary
of the mass killing approached.
Needing to revisit the original story, the
people she did and didn’t interview, and
the words she used to craft the piece, Page
approached the Star to write a follow-up, a
postmortem of her original story.
After not hearing back, she approached
the Ottawa Citizen. Her former paper said,
Page’s account is an intriguing evaluation of how her original story failed to
honour the memories of the young women
pictured at the top of page four.
“I turned the dead engineering students
into sleeping beauties who received flowers from potential suitors,” she writes.
“I should have referred to the buildings
they wouldn’t design, the machines they
wouldn’t create and the products never
However, it was not only words and editorial cartoons that won awards. Pictures
With the advent of digital cameras and
Instagram accounts, it can become more
difficult to appreciate the intricacies of
snapping that one picture that seems to say
In his account of how he got up close to
spawning salmon along the banks of the
Adams River in B.C.’s Roderick HaigBrown Park, Globe and Mail photographer John Lehmann explains how he used
an empty fish tank ( yes, a fish tank) to bag
the money shot.
And in his backstory of the shot that
featured the desperate lunge of tennis star
Gael Monfils, Toronto Sun photographer
and tennis enthusiast, Stan Behal, explains
how he used timing.
The result? A shot of the French player
suspended in an act of acrobatic futility.
As Behal and many of the awardwinners explained, sometimes the most
poignant moments come from those who
lose, not those who win.
The award-winners’ accounts were
intriguing, not only for their insight and
backstories, but for the tips that they provided at the end of each account
In general, they focused on the need
to be dogged in the pursuit of truth, use
freedom-of-information and access-toinformation laws to dig for documents and
data, develop and nourish contacts, carve
out space in busy schedules dominated
never-ending assignments and crushing
deadlines to research original stories, and
write drafts before submitting the final
On that score, I’ll turn over the remaining space to the Toronto Star’s Jim Coyle,
who gives this advice to students.
“There are no shortcuts. You have to
read — a lot. And you have to write — a
“I tell them that even after 35 years, I
never send a first draft to the Star. I rewrite
top to bottom, 10, 20, 30 times.
“‘Coz as Hemingway said, the hard part
of this biz is getting the words right.”
CAJ - Don McGillivray Award and Community Broadcast
Aura of Power
CBC News Edmonton
Charles Rusnell, Jennie Russell
By Charles Rusnell
n early 2014, it seems many people
had heard the rumour a private penthouse apartment was being built for thenpremier Alison Redford at public expense.
We turned rumour into fact, and the
story that became known as Redford’s
“Skypalace” made national headlines. Under pressure from within her own caucus,
Redford resigned as premier the week
before the Skypalace documents were
released to us.
Two weeks later, there was more public
outrage after we broke the story of how
Redford had flown her daughter on 50
government flights, including two holiday
long weekends in Jasper.
In July, we published and broadcast our
story of how Redford’s staff had booked
fake passengers on government planes so
she could fly with a chosen entourage.
Redford resigned her seat as an MLA
eight days after the story appeared and a
day before the auditor general released his
Alberta Auditor General Merwan Saher
coined the phrase that perhaps best captures the brief, troubled reign of Redford.
“Premier Redford used public assets
(aircraft) for personal and partisan purposes. And Premier Redford was involved in
a plan to convert public space in a public
building into personal living space,” Saher
wrote in his report, released in August.
“How could this have happened?
The answer is the aura of power around
Premier Redford and her office and the
perception that the influence of the office
should not be questioned.”
We never, for a moment, questioned
the need to challenge Redford’s “aura of
power.” But we knew any investigation
of a powerful politician had to be meticu-
lously planned, reported and verified.
We produced the stories through a combination of targeted freedom-of-information requests, enterprise thinking, carefully
cultivated sources and most importantly,
methodically planned and organized
Documents obtained through freedom of
information produced the Skypalace story.
But we did not simply file a raft of fishingexpedition requests, hoping one might
yield the documents.
As a full-time investigative unit, we extensively employ freedom of information
to generate stories and maintain production. At any given time, we have about 150
active requests. Few are made on a hunch.
Instead, we look for a confidential
source with direct knowledge of what we
are investigating. Confidential sources
may not be able, or willing, to speak on
the record, but they can provide information which can be used to craft very specific requests both in terms of the information sought and the time frame.
In the case of Skypalace, our source
told us to request the communications
between Redford’s executive assistant and
the architect responsible for the penthouse.
We filed six separate requests to two
departments, which yielded the documents
that underpinned the story and made it
Redford’s lavish travel had been making
headlines for weeks when she publicly
stated it was common knowledge she took
her daughter on government flights.
Except it wasn’t common knowledge,
something Jennie Russell immediately
The list of passengers for government
flights are posted online in Alberta. Rus-
sell manually pored over hundreds of
pages of flight manifests and found 50
flights on which Redford had taken her
Two of those trips were on holiday long
weekends in Jasper. We cross-referenced
those trips with her posted expenses and
found that on one weekend she stayed at
the luxury Jasper Park Lodge, supposedly
on government business. But after two full
days of reporting, we could find no work
Redford had done in Jasper that weekend.
Russell also noticed an unfamiliar
name on one of the manifests; Angelita
Escultero. We knew from a source that
Redford’s family had a Filipino nanny.
Facebook searches revealed photos of
Escultero with Redford’s daughter in front
of the Alberta legislature and that she
worked part-time at a fast-food restaurant
To make certain we had the right person, Russell determined when Escultero
was scheduled to work at the restaurant,
travelled to Calgary and approached her
during her break. She confirmed she was
Redford’s nanny and had flown on the
The draft auditor general’s report detailing the fake passengers scheme appeared
in our anonymous tip inbox as an attachment.
The source had admired our previous
work on Redford, and wanted this information to be made public so it couldn’t be
watered down under political pressure, as
the source had seen happen in the past.
But before we could publish or broadcast anything, we had to do two things:
ensure the document was genuine and
ensure the source would not be caught.
After several phone conversations,
SPENDING ONTHE PUBLIC DIME: Redford’s lavish travel had been making headlines for weeks when she publicly stated it was
common knowledge she took her daughter on government flights.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jason Franson/The Canadian Press
we convinced the source to meet us at a
fast-food restaurant where we verified the
source’s identity and that the source would
have access to the highly confidential
At the same meeting, we asked numerous questions to establish the document
could not be traced back to the source.
Did the document reside on a server to
which many people have access? How
broadly distributed was the document?
Did the source use an office photocopier?
(Photocopiers create a record that may be
tracked to a specific person.)
We ask these questions because we
always think long-term; we want sources
to remain in their jobs so as to hopefully
provide us with more inside information in
Getting the information is only the first
step. Successful large-scale investigative
reporting requires planning and organization. For every story, we produce a
step-by-step plan which details how we
will pursue it and how we produce it for
We do this to improve efficiency and
ensure accuracy, but also to document our
work. This is crucial not only to meet our
2015 AWARDS EDITION
Challenging hospital policy on
medical marijuana use
CBC Radio One – Quebec AM
employer’s journalistic standards, but also
to satisfy the legal requirements of the
modern due-diligence defence to libel and
And finally, for every story, we conduct
line-by-line fact checking to ensure every
word and statement is supported by documents and by our reporting.
Charles Rusnell and Jennie Russell
are reporters with CBC Investigates, the
investigative unit of CBC Edmonton. They
can be reached at [email protected]
LINKS TO OUR STORIES
CTV News Kitchener
Working holiday nightmare
CBC News Vancouver
CAJ – Text Feature
RUTH AMOS’ IDENTIFICATION CARD: The 19-year-old left her home the
morning of April 14 to attend a government boarding school to write her final-year
exams. She was among nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped that night when Boko
Haram insurgents raided the school.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jesse McLean
A Daughter’s Disappearing Silhouette
A FATHER’S GRIEF: Amos Mustapha’s 19-yearold daughter, Ruth, was one of nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped from a Nigerian boarding school
on April 14. “My greatest pain is the thought of
my daughter: Where she is, what they have done to
her,” he said.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jesse McLean
By Jesse McLean
t was April 2014 and the Toronto Star
newsroom, like much of the world,
was captivated by the heinous abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls in northern
Nigeria by the terror group Boko Haram.
With each passing day, it became increasingly apparent we needed to be on the
ground to properly cover the story.
Over the course of two weeks in
Nigeria, I filed eleven articles, culminating
in a 2,800-word feature reconstruction of
the midnight raid on the schoolhouse, and
the reverberations the kidnapping had on
the Chibok community, and the country.
To tell the story of the horrific kidnapping, the article focused on individuals in
the days leading up to and following the
abduction — a schoolgirl who bravely
jumped from her captors’ truck before it
rumbled its way deeper into forest; fathers,
their attempts to rescue their daughters
futile, left only with mementos their girls
left behind; and a female student, afraid
her school may soon be attacked itself.
My foreign experience to this point has
been limited to what is sometimes viewed
derisively as parachute journalism. I have
dropped into countries in the days following a devastating natural disaster or
an escalation in violence, and covered
the fallout. In these instances, the daily
challenge has not been convincing people
to talk, but rather tasks that we often take
for granted: Getting safely from Point
A to Point B, finding a stable Internet or
satellite connection to file your dispatch,
securing a place to stay in a hotspot overrun with international media.
In this case, the troubles began before
leaving for the airport. Getting into Nigeria requires a visa — and getting a visa
requires persistence and a bit of magic
For journalists, the gatekeeper to get
into the country has a Yahoo email account and rarely picks up her phone. After
calling her a dozen times over three days
and getting nowhere, I headed to Ottawa,
where I talked my way into the Nigeria
High Commission without an appointment
and, after repeated sprints to a nearby
Staples to print off the appropriate documents, I managed to convince the staff to
grant an expedited visa. Had I not I shown
up in person, I am not sure I would have
ever received it.
On the ground
Once in Nigeria, the fieldwork continued to be frustrating and sometimes
dangerous. Air Canada lost my luggage,
containing everything from my toothbrush
to a flak jacket, for several days (thankfully, a colleague wisely advised me years
ago to always carry your cash, camera and
computer in your carry-on).
Later, on a roadside in a small town
where I met the fathers of the missing
girls, local police tried to shake us down,
poking a loaded rifle at my chest.
I filed my first story within hours of ar-
riving in the capital, Abuja, using contacts
I made before leaving. When covering
these kinds of stories, I believe in hitting
the ground running.
Knowing your editors will often expect
a large feature wrapping things up, I talk
to every one I can, stockpiling material
that I can later use.
For example, a Nigerian researcher who
had done some freelancing for the Star
shared a phone number with a pastor in
the community where the schoolhouse
was raided. I gave him my local number,
asking him to pass it on to others in the
Having the local pastor vouch for me,
bereaved parents and relatives got in
touch, which led to connecting with the
fathers who agreed to sit down for hours
to share their stories.
Hearing their stories
Chibok is an isolated community in
Borno, a volatile, northeastern state and
the heartland of Boko Haram. Nigerians
traveling to the town from nearby cities
risked kidnapping or death. A foreign journalist would almost be courting it. While
large U.S. news outlets traveled there or
nearby, some with armored guards, the
Star’s editors decided it was too reckless
Instead, three fathers agreed to make the
journey south to the more stable Nasawara
state so they could tell their daughters’
Alongside the article, we printed an edi-
tor’s note explaining that the Star had paid
for the men’s travel expenses because we
believed their story needed to be heard.
With translation from a fixer, I spoke to
each man for two to three hours, something that would not have been possible by
phone because of the country’s spotty cell
They shared mementos of their daughters that helped paint a portrait of the missing girls: school notebooks, photographs, a
graduation dress that was never worn.
Doing the kind of in-depth interviewing
required to reconstruct scenes was difficult
when going through a translator, but I just
focused on asking simple questions that
would help them not just remember what
happened, but how it looked, smelled,
Show up in person. It’s a lot harder for
2015 AWARDS EDITION
Text Feature Finalists
Ethan Faber, Phil Hahn
The Search for Ashley and
Trouble beneath our feet
an embassy to deny you a visa when it’s
one form on a pile. Smile, be polite but
Get a local SIM card — but don’t
always call from your local number. There
were several instances where I got tips or
interviews because it was easy to text or
call a local number. However, government
officials frequently would ignore calls
from my local cell, so I would call them
from a Canadian Skype number, which
they, inexplicably, always answered.
When writing, chart out a roadmap so
you can figure out the narrative arc before
you start writing. The added bonus is this
allows you to write in smaller chunks,
turning a daunting 3,000-word feature into
much more manageable 500-word chunks.
Jesse McLean is a staff reporter with the
Toronto Star’s investigative team. He can
be reached at [email protected]
CAJ – Open Broadcast Feature
SCARRED FOR LIFE: The black market potentially exposes both the organ sellers AND
the recipients to abuse and to sub-standard
PHOTO CREDIT: Associated Producers
Tales from the Organ Trade
Associated Producers Ltd. / Shaw Media
Ric Esther Bienstock, Felix Golubev, Simcha Jacobovici
By Ric Esther Bienstock
hen I set out to make Tales From the Organ Trade I
thought I was embarking on a black-and-white story of
desperation and exploitation. There have been countless films,
articles and reports about the black market organ trade and all of
them tell the same sensational story: affluent First World patients
in dire need of a kidney, travel to the Third World to buy an organ
from an impoverished, but equally desperate, victim. These black
market operations take place in countries like India, Pakistan,
China, Columbia, Egypt, the Philippines, Turkey and Russia.
But when the illicit organ trade gets shut down in one country, it
inevitably pops up in another.
The patients come from the U.S., Canada, Europe and the
Middle East – anywhere where people have the money and
wherewithal to seek out a black market transplant. My team and
I travelled around the world – to Kosovo, Turkey, Israel, Ukraine,
Moldova the Philippines, the U.S. and Canada – and met with
organ brokers, transplant surgeons, victims, recipients, lawmakers
The picture that emerged was not black-and-white, but rather,
a nuanced and complex story that forced me to question my own
moral and ethical assumptions.
The black market in human organs is dominated by the selling
of kidneys. There are two reasons for this. First, kidney transplantation is an operation that has become relatively routine, and can
be performed easily in hospitals and clinics without state-of-theart facilities.
Second, we are born with two kidneys. If we’re healthy, we can
survive with one. Many operations take place in private clinics,
like the one we filmed in Kosovo. But many take place in established hospitals with respected surgeons who seem to turn a blind
eye to the fact that money is changing hands. It is very easy for
someone to skirt the rules regarding compensation when receiving or “donating” a kidney.
The World Health Organization claims that, every 60 minutes,
somewhere in the world, a human organ is sold on the black
market. I strongly suspect that estimate is low. There is simply
no way to track how many people are being compensated. I also
Producer director Ric Esther Bienstock (middle) with producer
Felix Golubev (right) filming in Prishtina, Kosovo
discovered that this is not only a Third World phenomenon. We
met someone who sold his kidney on Craigslist.
Most of us intuitively feel that purchasing a kidney is wrong.
The consensus from the medical establishment, the World Health
Organization and medical ethicists, is that buying an organ is
immoral and exploitative. News reports describe these transactions as coercive and throw around terms like organ harvesting,
kidney cartels and cannibalism. Without any analysis or context,
that would be the end of the story. But there’s a more complicated
story to tell that digs a little deeper and doesn’t have as resolute
a point of view. I wanted Tales From the Organ Trade to tell that
Desperation in the black market
This is a story where law-abiding citizens desperate to live,
turn to the black market for a life-saving transplant, where the
victims living in abject poverty, are driven to use their bodies as a
bank book. Where the medical establishment, helpless on account
of the shortage of organs, all too often watches people die and
where the villains often save lives.
To really understand how the organ trade works, we needed to
access all the players involved -- the brokers, doctors, surgeons,
recipients and donors. It took over two years to find the stories
that would provide a complete picture. I followed two North
Americans, Mary Jo and Walter, both desperate for a kidney.
Their stories put a human face on the difficulties of living on
dialysis and the harsh reality of what it’s like to be on a waiting
list that is not transparent and brutally slow.
We filmed in the Philippines, one of the hot spots for organ
trafficking at the time. Organ selling is so widespread in certain
areas that the brokers don’t have to recruit – donors are lining
up at their doors.
In Manila, we followed a young man trying to sell his kidney.
His dream was to move his family out of an urban slum into a
small house in the countryside where he could farm and raise
chickens. But his broker was spooked by our cameras and at
the last minute told him the operation was cancelled. In fact,
she swapped him for another donor with the same blood type. Instead of feeling like I had “saved” him, I felt I’d robbed him of
his one chance at a better life. I was surprised and uncomfortable
with my own reaction. That’s when I decided that I wanted to
take viewers on the same ethically ambiguous journey I was on
while making the film. I went on to meet many young men who suffered no complications from their transplant and who used their money wisely to
send their kids to school, buy a house and in some cases, buy a
micro-business that would provide them with ongoing income. I
met others who drank and caroused through their money in mere
months and one unfortunate soul who learned that his one remaining kidney was riddled with disease. The fact is, stories with
positive outcomes are rarely, if ever, documented, though they
represented the majority of cases that I witnessed.
Finally, at the heart of Tales From the Organ Trade is the
anatomy of a single black market transplant. I interviewed a
Canadian man who travelled to the Medicus Clinic in Kosovo for
his transplant. Raul was brave enough to share his story with me
and appear on camera. He was a very sympathetic character, who
hoped that the money he was paying would help someone out of
poverty just as they were helping him to live. It was a surprise
to me (and to Raul) that several months later the Medicus clinic
would be at the centre of one of the most notorious organ trafficking prosecutions in recent memory.
At that point, I decided that I would try to piece together all the
2015 AWARDS EDITION
players from a single black market organ transplant. Raul was
the recipient, but we still had to track down the rest of the people
involved in his operation. My first stop was Kosovo, where I
filmed Jonathan Ratel, the prosecutor of the case. I was able to
get my hands on the indictment, which served as a blueprint for
all the transplants that took place at the clinic.
The Turkish surgeon who allegedly performed the transplants,
Dr. Yusuf Sonmez, was a fugitive from justice, wanted by Interpol. Dubbed Dr. Vulture by the international media, Sonmez
is considered one of the most notorious organ traffickers in the
Surprisingly, I was able to contact him through his own website! I sent an email message telling him what I was doing and
asking if he would be willing to meet me for coffee – no cameras,
no crew. His response: “I googled you – having a cup of coffee
doesn’t sound very very bad.” I flew to Turkey, hoping that I
didn’t make the trip for a mere cup of coffee. He set a time and
place for a meeting. It turned out coffee was accompanied by
dinner, which was accompanied by his parents, wife and young
child. At the end of the meal he told me he saw no reason to
appear in the documentary. The next day he changed his mind.
Why? Because his mother liked me!
I reached out to Dr. Zaki Shapira, an Israeli doctor who was an
unindicted co-conspirator in the case. Dr. Shapira granted me an
interview. When I questioned him on the morality of the black
market organ trade he shrugged, “I’m a doctor. When I know I
can save someone’s life, should I tell them I can’t because it’s
After spending months trying to identify Raul’s “donor”, we
finally gained access to the stacks of evidence that were collected
for the prosecution. After sifting through thousands of pages we
found a faded photocopy of her Moldovan passport. With the help
of a local journalist in Moldova, we found out where she worked
and finally met her face-to-face. In sharp contrast to all reports
on this case, she was healthy, happy and she was paid every
penny she was promised.
The Kosovo case was a widely reported story internationally
and every article screamed exploitation, organ theft and abuse.
I NEED A KIDNEY: Mary Jo’s story put a human face on the difficulties of living on dialysis, and the harsh reality of what it’s like to be on a waiting
list that’s brutally slow.
PHOTO CREDIT: Associated Producers
The real story was much more layered.
It’s undeniable there are atrocities in the
world of organ trafficking, heinous and
unacceptable by any standards. The black
market potentially exposes both the organ
sellers AND the recipients to abuse and to
sub-standard medical practice. In China, there have been reports from
reliable sources saying that organs are
being taken from executed prisoners, in
particular the Falun Gong.
In India, it is known that debt-laden villagers are being coerced by their lenders to
sell their kidneys to pay back their loans.
In these cases, and likely many others,
there is no moral ambiguity. We all understand that this is wrong. But the lion’s
share of the organ trade takes place in an
ethical grey zone.
The black market in organs is flourishing worldwide. Demand for kidneys is
growing. As more desperate patients realize that they will never make it to the top
of the list, more operations are going to
take place in the unregulated world of the
Tales From the Organ Trade doesn’t
provide a solution, but with access to all
the players, I’m hoping that the film provides some insight into this complicated,
tragic human drama.
Telling this story, and the art of documentary filmmaking
I’m a documentary filmmaker who
does largely investigative stories. On this
documentary I was director, producer and
Geoff Leo, Roxanna Woloshyn
Mining for a miracle
CBC News Saskatchewan
Sandie Rinaldo, Litsa Sourtzis, Sarah
CTV – W5
Brennan Leffler, Jennifer Tryon, Jonathan Wong, Elias Campbell, Krysia
Collyer, Laurie Few
Out of shadows
Global News – 16X9
writer. I had two co-producers.
We approached Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg because the subject matter
seemed right for him -- and his voice. We
asked him to watch an early cut and hoped
that if he saw it he would feel comfortable
being associated with the film. Turns out
Raising the money for documentaries
is always an issue. To raise the money to
make this film, I pre-sold the idea of the
documentary to HBO in the U.S., and
Shaw Media in Canada. As the story got more complicated,
and I had to travel more extensively, I approached other broadcasters in Europe to
try to raise more funds. I ended up selling the story to ZDF/
Arte, a German/French broadcaster.
I’ve been making films for around 20
years and start from scratch with each
new project, trying to find funders and
broadcasters. It’s always a struggle.
Call for Applications
The Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy provides the opportunity for an
experienced Canadian journalist to pursue a one-year, in-depth examination of an
emerging or challenging public policy issue.
The Atkinson Fellow is provided with a one-year research stipend of $75,000 and
up to $25,000 for expenses beginning September 1, 2016.
The fellowship culminates in a series of published articles in the Toronto Star in
the fall of 2017. The deadline for applications is February 10, 2016 no later than
5:00 p.m. (EST).
For more information on this opportunity and our selection process, please visit:
2015 AWARDS EDITION
CAJ – Open Broadcast News
SPEAKING OUT: Kalen’s nervousness was justified.
The response to his story was overwhelming. It took on
a life of its own.
PHOTO CREDIT: CBC
Foreign Workers McJobs
CBC News – The National
Kathy Tomlinson, Enza Uda, Robb Douglas
By Enza Uda
his story started with Kalen Christ,
a 21-year-old fast-food worker. He
was working at a McDonald’s restaurant
in Victoria, BC, and wrote to CBC’s Go
Public with concerns that his franchise’s
owners were bringing over temporary
foreign workers to three locations. His bosses had done this before, which
resulted in his and his co-workers’ hours
being cut. He wondered why there was a
need to hire temporary foreign workers in
the first place, since he said resumés came
in almost daily at their restaurant from
He had learned from Go Public’s
ground-breaking coverage of RBC and
the TFW controversy that this was against
the rules. Foreign workers could only be
hired if Canadians were unavailable.
The RBC story led to a flood of emails
claiming abuses of the temporary foreign
worker program from the fast-food to oiland-gas sectors. We looked into many of
them, but most were impossible to prove.
This one was different. Kalen was
smart and motivated, willing to help us
obtain internal records, although still
reluctant to go on camera. He was conscious about being misconstrued as a racist and a disgruntled
employee. He was neither. Far from it. He liked his Filipino colleagues, but was
upset at management. He felt he was
neither given the same hours, nor the same
opportunities. His bosses told him the
foreigners “work harder” and were “more
For several weeks, I worked with Kalen
to obtain what we needed to prove his
claims. Months of work schedules and
payroll documents painted a clear pattern: Over time, the foreign workers were
getting full-time hours, while the local
workers’ hours were cut back. It also showed some were being paid
more than locals. Kalen was also able
to provide dozens of resumes from local
applicants. Getting Kalen on camera
We had the proof. Now we needed him
to go on the record, on camera. After
many, many phone conversations, Kalen
was finally persuaded to do the interview. Reporter Kathy Tomlinson (now with The
Globe and Mail) headed to Victoria with
long-time CBC cameraman Robb Douglas to shoot the interview with another
restaurant worker who had dropped off a
resumé at the McDonald’s franchise, but
never heard back.
Kalen’s nervousness was justified. The
response to his story was overwhelming. It
took of life of its own.
The government was swift to crack
down on the franchise owners, suspending
all their foreign-worker permits, and putting them on a blacklist pending its investigation. It set up a tip line and then-Employment Minister, Jason Kenney, made a
public call for complaints of abuse of the
temporary foreign worker program. As
for McDonald’s Canada, it initially pushed
back when confronted with the claims.
However, once the federal government
took action, the fast-food giant was forced
to end its relationship with the owners
and took over their three locations. It also
said it would monitor its company’s use
of the program. Kalen got to keep his job,
pushed into the public spotlight, and did
several interviews with other TV, radio
and newspaper outlets.
B.C. Federation of Labour threatened
to boycott McDonald’s. The public outcry
Beyond the one anecdote
The story at this point was far from
over. We heard from many other local
McDonald’s employees, especially from
British Columbia and Alberta, who faced
the same challenges as Kalen, losing hours
to temporary foreign workers. On the
flip side, temporary workers from Belize
with the fast food chain also went public,
claiming they were treated like “slaves”. The real kicker came when another
McDonald’s franchise owner leaked a
recorded conference call to Go Public
reporter Kathy Tomlinson. In it, McDonald’s Canada’s CEO, John Betts, called
the temporary foreign worker controversy
“bullshit”, claiming that Jason Kenney
“gets it”, suggesting he was on side. He
had held a national conference call with
the company’s franchisees across the
country to talk about the bad publicity
spurred on by Go Public reports. Turns
out Kenney was not on side and immediately announced a moratorium on
the food services sector’s access to the
foreign worker program. There have been
sweeping – and controversial – changes
to program since our stories aired. The
rules have tightened, making it harder and
more expensive for Canadian employers to
bring in foreign workers.
Go Public - A dedicated team
For several years, a small team of
dedicated investigative journalists have
worked hard to build the popular, awardwinning CBC segment, Go Public. All our
stories were generated by members of the
public, people from all walks of life who
experienced an injustice, and who wanted
to get answers and accountability. It has
been successful in fulfilling CBC’s mandate of public-service journalism. Most
stories that went to air got positive results
for the people who went public, and sometimes they sparked changes in policy, like
The key to its success has been the
CBC’s willingness to devote the time and
resources to the segment. These stories
take time. It takes time to sift through the
2015 AWARDS EDITION
dozens, sometimes hundreds of emails
received daily. It takes time and expertise to see the potential in an email from
the public. And it takes time and skill to
investigate and tell these stories.
In times of declining newsroom budgets, I can only hope media organizations
will continue to invest in investigative
journalism, giving journalists the time
and resources needed to uncover stories
Operation Snapshot: behind the
scenes of a child porn bust
Gosie Sawicka, Leif Larsen,
Firearms instructor gives certificates after helping students with
CBC News Manitoba
Kevin Newman, Litsa Sourtzis,
CTV – W5
with impact, stories that serve the public
Keep an open mind and listen: Real
stories can come from unexpected places. Kalen was a very young high school
dropout, an unlikely source, but he was
positioned perfectly to tell this story and
get the goods to prove it. Be prepared, do your research: If
you’re going to hold powers accountable,
you have to make sure you’re right. Be persistent: Kalen was a reluctant
participant. We spent a lot of time on the
phone, getting to know him, and building
a relationship of trust. When you know
you have the facts right, don’t let PR spin,
blanket denials or meaningless platitudes
from government or corporations distract
you. Keep pushing. They always push
back -- the bigger the story, the harder
Enza Uda researched and produced
“Go Public” with Kathy Tomlinson from
2008 to 2015, with a two-year hiatus
working with CBC Vancouver’s investigative team. She is now a writer and producer with the CBC News in Vancouver.
Investigative reporter Kathy Tomlinson
led the Go Public team from 2007 to 2015. She is now a reporter with The Globe and
CAJ – CWA Canada / CAJ Award For Labour Reporting
Rail Fatigue in Canada – A Silent Peril
CBC Investigative Unit
Dave Seglins, John Nicol, Heather Evans, Carla Turner,
Jeremy MacDonald and Gord Westmacott
(The Current, CBC Radio)
By Dave Seglins
magine a freight train, three kilometres long, rolling across Canada at
speeds in excess of 80 kilometres an hour,
carrying all manner of dangerous goods
-- passing communities, rail traffic signals,
level crossings -- and the engineer is literally falling asleep at the controls.
That’s the terrifying reality according to
several of Canada’s locomotive operators,
in candid interviews with CBC News,
as well as fatigue surveys by rail worker
unions and Transport Canada.
CBC interviewed working engineers
who admit to missing stop signals, and
narrowly avoiding rail disasters after nodding off at the controls and being in a fog
due to long, exhaustive shifts with little
We protected their identities, as these
veteran railroaders risked careers and pensions to speak out about an industry that
relies on an entrenched 24-7 on-call scheduling system. In one case we unearthed
phone recordings of a CP Rail dispatcher
ordering an engineer to report for duty to
drive a passenger train on two hours sleep.
How we got the story
This exposé was the result of several
years of interest in rail safety. It is just
one of several investigative stories that
grew out of a CBC I-Unit in Toronto
which in 2012 began documenting problems and corruption within Canada’s rail
We received tips about problems at CN
Rail including a bizarre story of the company hauling a train of tanker cars back
and forth to the U.S. and never unloading
the cargo. Turns out it was a scam by shippers to defraud a US government green
On July 6, 2013, when a runaway
freight train carrying crude oil rolled
through the heart of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, derailing, exploding and killing 47
people, the CBC already had deep sources
within the industry.
We mounted stories about the alarming
frequency of runaway trains, failures by
major rail companies to properly report
accidents and derailments to safety regulators, and corruption allegations within the
This work attracted more than 50 tipsters and sources from inside the industry
-- including family members and spouses
of railroaders who kept telling us about a
culture of ‘iron fisted management,’ constant fear of firings, and chronic fatigue
Railroaders and other insiders of all
stripes kept telling us about a lesserknown, pervasive peril within the industry.
We heard legions of complaints, stories of
divorce, depression, alcoholism and risks
to public safety.
It all stemmed, we were told, from
railroaders’ long shifts away from home,
men and women forced to respond to a
24-7 on-call scheduling system identified
by safety regulators as grossly affecting
the health and competence of locomotive
A CLOSE CALL: A rail engineer who wished to remain anonymous told CBC News that he had once been so exhausted while on shift that he missed
a signal at the controls of a three-kilometre-long train.
CBC focused on this issue of rail
fatigue, years of studies done by government, and found a number of veteran
working railroaders who – fearing dismissal – agreed to be interviewed, only if
we obscured their faces and their voices
CBC granted this confidentiality believing these railroaders’ stories represented
a widespread complaint among workers.
Without protection of identities, these men
would never have spoken up publicly.
They candidly admitted to near misses
at work and nightmares while off-duty,
bolting awake in their beds, dreaming they
were behind the controls of a locomotive
and about to crash having missed a stop
signal or signs of an on-coming train.
Beyond these interviews, our findings were bolstered by the discovery that
Transport Canada had designed a survey
of rail workers that ultimately was conducted by their unions. It confirmed high
levels of chronic fatigue.
Our stories forced the issue onto the national transportation agenda, including at a
federal railway working group on fatigue
What’s more, the rail fatigue stories
2015 AWARDS EDITION
CBC Radio One – Sunday Edition
CBC News: World Report /
CBC Radio – The Current
The 4,000 kilometre commute
The Huffington Post
The secret squeeze
Call renewed for justice
prompted another flood of tips that has led
to yet more stories – including an exposé
of a feud between Canada’s Transport
Minister and the head of CP Rail over an
investigation of a CP train parked in the
B.C. mountains which regulators allege
was left without proper brakes.
CBC’s “Rail Fatigue” series is a testament to how the investment of time and
journalistic resources (so rare these days)
can reap huge longer-term rewards. Tips,
expertise and the trust of sources enabled
us to become a leading Canadian voice on
Investigative journalism takes money
and time. But it’s that investment which is
needed to unearth these kinds of original,
stories – to develop the smarts, the depth,
and the trust and reputation on an issue of
such vital public importance.
And there’s more to come, so stay
Dave Seglins is an investigative journalist with CBC News based in Toronto. He
and his team can be reached at (416) 2055823, or by emailing [email protected]
ca or [email protected]
FIGHTING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION:
Feng Cheng and his son Sean at their apartment
PHOTO CREDIT Britney Dennison
CAJ – Online Media
“China’s Generation Green”
International Reporting Program,
University of British Columbia’s Graduate School of
Journalism, Shantou University’s Cheung Kong School of
Journalism and Communication and the Toronto Star.
By Britney Dennison
hina has an environmental movement?” This was the typical
question we heard from many of our
family and friends when we described our
project, “China’s Generation Green.”
Everyone knows about pollution in
China – the air is thick with smog, the
water is polluted, the soil is contaminated,
the waste is increasing and the biodiversity of the country is rapidly disappearing.
But what we wanted to highlight with our
project is what people are doing about the
A growing movement
Chinese economic growth over the last
few decades is unlike anything the world
has ever seen. The so-called “Chinese
miracle” is manifested in the growing
domestic demand for consumer goods like
televisions, smartphones, and cars. There
are now more than 240 million cars on
China’s roads, with more new vehicles
added in 2012 than there were on the road,
total, at the turn of the century.
The trade-off for 30 years of prosperity
has been a legacy of unspeakable envi-
ronmental damage. This is reflected every
day in newspapers and magazines around
the world, and the country’s reputation is
inextricable from its toxic footprint. China
has become infamous for its ‘apocalyptic’
The country has become a symbol of
the darkest side of economic development
and globalization. And 300 million more
people are expected to enter the country’s
middle class by 2020, multiplying the
But what few people know is that there
is a burgeoning movement among young
Chinese trying to do something about this
environmental crisis. This series is about
the generation that has inherited a toxic
legacy, and a few members of that generation who are openly and actively trying
to change the trajectory of the country to
32-year-old researcher Chen Liwen won
a lawsuit against the Guangzhou Environmental Bureau for failing to release their
data on incinerators. Our readers’ were
shocked. They were shocked that you can
sue the Chinese government – and win.
In the words of wildlife photographer
Yuanqi Wu, “We are the generation at the
point when China has become more open.
We travel internationally, and we see the
outside world through the Internet. We’ve
been influenced by other countries’ environmentally friendly ideas. And we want
to tell the world what we want, what we
think and what the government has been
A team effort
This project was produced by the International Reporting Program (IRP), which
is a yearlong course out of the University
of British Columbia’s Graduate School of
The IRP is designed to train the next
generation of global journalists. I was
a fellow in the program. We spent the
year working collaboratively to produce
“China’s Generation Green.” Our team
included 10 students and a group of professors who have expertise across various
media and subject areas. Our in-class time
was spent reviewing works of interna-
tional journalism, researching China’s
environmental crisis, deliberating on
ethics, discussing form and medium and
developing our stories.
With the International Reporting Program the process is as important as the
product. We learn how to find the story
and sources, how to organize travel and
visas, create reporting schedules and ultimately how to gather all the material we
need in the short length of time we have in
For many students in the class, this is
the first time they’ve had the opportunity
to report internationally. We divided into
five groups to examine air, food, waste,
water, wildlife, and conspicuous consumption.
My team included my classmate Emma
Bower (Editor’s note: now Emma Smith)
and our professor Dan McKinney. We
were reporting on families whose children
were sick from Beijing’s air pollution.
Parents were desperate to protect their kids
from the smog and were doing everything
they could to mitigate the health risks
involved with living in one of the world’s
most polluted cities.
The students reporting on waste remained with us in Beijing, while others
fanned out across the country, reporting in
Yunnan province in the south, Shanghai
and Chengdu in the west.
Accompanying each team was a Chinese student from Shantou University’s
Cheung Kong School of Journalism and
Communication. The International Reporting Program partnered with Shantou
University students at the beginning of the
2015 AWARDS EDITION
year. Teams checked in with their partner
each week to discuss stories, sources and
The project challenged the traditional
fixer role through its collaborative ap-
Ashley Terry, Heather Loney,
Kevin Buffitt, James Armstrong,
Andrew Russell, Carmen Chai,
Laura Stone, Amy Minsky, Irene
This man says Canadians need to
know what’s in their government
pension plan and what demanding
justice cost him
Freelancer / The Vancouver
proach and the students from Shantou
University used the materials gathered to
create their own works of journalism.
The resulting project was a parallax
website for the International Reporting
Program and an accompanying web and
print project for the Toronto Star. Both
sites use video, interactive graphics, photos, audio and text. There was significant
traffic and engagement, with the majority
of committed visitors in the first week
staying 10-30 minutes. The story also
gained wide attention on social media,
both on Twitter and on China’s Weibo
In journalism you rarely have the opportunity to spend nine months on one
story. At the beginning of the project nine
months seemed like a long time, but we
quickly realized that no length of time is
ever enough. There were countless stories
of young Chinese activists that we could
have added to the project – stories about
protesters, the development of innovative
technologies and social media revolutions.
That is why the International Reporting
Program, which is currently being transformed into a Global Reporting Centre,
is planning to continue reporting on the
topic. Our goal is to build on the work we
have already done, and expand the project
to reach an audience in China.
The full roster of recipients: Umbreen
Butt, Britney Dennison, Allison Griner,
Emma Smith, Aurora Tejeida, Jimmy
Thomson, Carlos Tello, Mike Wallberg,
Leif Zapf-Gilje, Peter Klein, David Rummel, Kathryn Gretsinger, Daniel McKinney, Kim Frank, Chantelle Bellrichard,
Travis North, Peter Herford, Katelyn
Verstraten, Yujuan Xie, Zhenzhen Zhang,
Haiyan Wu, Xiaoqing Yang, Xiaohong
Lin, Yonglin Yao, Yacong Luo
Britney Dennison is the research advisor for The Global Reporting Centre and a
former fellow of the International Reporting Program. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter at @
RUSHING TO THE ALTAR: With seconds to spare, and
a little help from her bridesmaids, Nikki Coles, from the
community of Fogo on Fogo Island, cuts through a field
to the back door of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church to wed
Jason Ford of Deep Bay, another hamlet on the island.
CAJ – Photojournalism
How I got it: I was lucky to spend a few days documenting life on Newfoundland’s Fogo Island which was a-buzz
with news of a wedding. I set off driving around the village
from church to church trying to find the details, when I noticed women leaving a hair salon with a veil. Turns out she
was the bride-to-be. We chatted. She was thrilled. And so
like a paparazzi, I staked out the back door of the church.
The Globe and Mail
aw talent will only get you so far as
a photojournalist and I think if you
look at the work of successful visual storytellers you’ll see that they have a clear and
intimate understanding of the story.
For me one of the fundamental basics
of being a successful photojournalist is
making sure that I’m part of the process
from the beginning, and then contributing
my own ideas. Many of the images in my
winning portfolio are strong on content
and composition. They are also creative.
Photojournalism is about storytelling and
meaningful content, not a fleeting moment
posted to Instagram.
British Columbia is North America’s
visual candy story. It never fails to amaze
me when looking back over my years’
work, the vast richness of the visual
diversity found in British Columbian for
a photojournalist. 2014 had a number of
highlights, but the return of the Adams
River Salmon run was the most technically
challenging and my personal favourite.
LIMBERING UP: Jennifer Bennet, 18, who will perform as a snowflake flower in the Goh Ballet’s Nutcracker stretches before rehearsals at The Centre in Vancouver,
December 7, 2014.
How I got it: Covering a rehearsal over an actual
performance can often leaded to better images because of
greater access and a more relaxed atmosphere. I noticed
the dancers would pause for a once-over in the mirror on
their way on to the stage. I positioned myself in a spot
that would frame the dancer with the leading lines of the
stairs and waited.
John Lehmann is one of the top photojournalists in
North America. He was named Canadian photojournalist
of the year in 2012 and 2013 by the News Photographers
VIEW FROM A FISHBOWL: A female and male (front) salmon in the spawning grounds along the banks of the Adams River in the
Roderick Haig-Brown Park October 13, 2014. The Adams River salmon run occurs every year, but every fourth year is the dominant
year when the largest return occurs. The last dominant year was 2010, which was the largest since 1913.
How I got it: The dramatic photograph of salmon making their way up the Adams River to spawn was one of the most the challenging and technically difficult to take, but it produced one of the best results. To achieve a unique view of the salmon, I placed my
$10,000 camera in a fish tank bought off the shelf at pet shop (yes, I really used a fish tank), mounted a flash to the side, weighed
everything down with small bags of kitty litter and placed the whole contraption precariously on a couple of rocks in the fast-moving
river. With a radio trigger to allow me to stay a good distance away, and a lot of patience, the fish gradually became comfortable with
the foreign object in their path.
2015 SPRING EDITION
and former Prime Minister
Jason McGown yawns
sitting between his
uncle and father.
The Canadian Press
Joy at Vancouver’s
Freelancer / The
CAJ – JHR/ CAJ Award for Human Rights Reporting
Outside the circle
APTN National News
n recent years, much of the media
coverage on Jordan’s Principle has
centred on the court case of Jeremy Meawasige and his mother Maurina Beadle.
At newsworthy moments, Beadle has let
cameras into her living room in the Pictou
Landing First Nation to talk about her
battle with the Canadian Government over
the care of her son.
Jeremy is disabled, living with autism
and cerebral palsy. Beadle had always
cared for him at home on-reserve in Nova
Scotia. After a stroke in 2010, she needed
help. Unwilling to put her son into a
provincial institution off-reserve, the band
arranged for home care. When Ottawa
wouldn’t cough up the money to cover
the extra cost, the band took the federal
government to court claiming this was a
case of Jordan’s Principle.
The Pictou Landing First Nation won.
The federal government appealed the
decision. A producer with APTN filed
an access-to-information request to find
out why. One line repeated in the briefing notes caught our eye; a concern that it
“could create a precedent.”
That led to the simple question – how
many cases of Jordan’s Principle are
there? As I found out after months of
research, there’s no easy answer. The essence of Jordan’s Principle is
equal healthcare for indigenous kids living
on-reserve. How services get paid for onreserve works differently. Dental care, or
a hearing aid, or a wheelchair, might fall
under Aboriginal Affairs, Health Canada,
or the province. But it’s not always clear,
and children’s’ needs can fall through the
cracks. The goal of Jordan’s Principle is to
provide the care first and argue over who
It was inspired by the death of a fiveyear-old Cree boy in Manitoba in 2005.
Jordan River Anderson had a rare muscular disorder. He died in hospital while the
provincial and federal governments fought
over who should flip the bill for his home
Two years later, Jordan’s Principle received unanimous support from Canada’s
MPs in the House of Commons. But fastforward to today. It’s a principle a federal
government has yet to put into practice.
At the time APTN aired its three-part
series, Outside the Circle, Ottawa insisted
no Jordan’s Principle cases even existed.
Ask an organization like the First Nations
Child & Family Caring Society and the
answer is in the hundreds.
That discrepancy is where the story lies.
Indigenous understanding of equal healthcare doesn’t fit the government’s criteria
for the Jordan’s Principle. It’s a policy
mired in bureaucracy with no money atFinalists
Patrick Cain, Leslie Young, Anna Mehler
In Central African Republic: A Lesson In
An Afghan boy’s lonely trek to freedom
Nowhere to go
Winnipeg Free Press
tached. The principle is inconsistent across the
country. And First Nations have had little
say in how the policy is shaped. Combing through federal documents is a lesson
in semantics. Ottawa only promises care
equal to the area around the First Nation. That doesn’t bode well for the many
remote indigenous communities.
The biggest challenge in the story was
On its own website, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
(AANDC) has reports and audits over the
years pointing out gaps in service, and a
lack of funding for healthcare on reserves.
But Jordan’s Principle is specific to situations where there’s a dispute over who
should pay. Ottawa narrows that dispute to
the provincial and federal governments
But frequently, people living on-reserve
are bounced between two federal departments – Health Canada and AANDC.
To qualify under AANDC guidelines,
the child must have multiple disabilities,
requiring multiple service providers. What
if a child has only one special need?
What do families do when they can’t get
a new wheelchair, or home care, or drugs,
or a hearing aid device not covered by the
non-Insured Health Benefits for First Nations and Inuit?
Emails to Health Canada and AANDC
asking for information and statistics offered nothing that wasn’t already on the
website. They granted no interviews.
But when child welfare advocate Cindy
Blackstock and the Assembly of First
Nations brought a human right complaint
against Ottawa, APTN was the broadcaster.
Blackstock has long argued that how
the federal government provides child
welfare, including Jordan’s Principle,
FIGHTING FOR JEREMY: Maurina Beadle and her son Jeremy Meawasige live on the Pictou Landing First Nation, N.S. When Maurina had a
stroke in 2010, she needed extra help taking care of Jeremy at home. Both the provincial government and Ottawa argued against footing the bill.
The Pictou landing Band took the Canadian government to court over Jordan’s Principle, and won in 2013.
discriminates against indigenous people
Weeks of hearings from the
Canadian Human Rights Tribunal were
live-streamed and archived. It was a rare
window into the bureaucratic logic that
steers the federal department responsible
for handling Aboriginal Affairs.
What it revealed was a lack of political will to follow through on a promise of
equal healthcare for First Nations, Metis
AANDC officials kept track of the
disparities in healthcare, but as a former
AANDC bureaucrat testified, “We are not
mandated to create a new program that
will fill those gaps.”
Critics call that racism. A denial of basic
human rights for indigenous people living
on reserve in Canada.
Several weeks after APTN’s series
aired in 2014, Ottawa dropped its appeal
of the Jordan’s Principle case. Maurina
Beadle and her son Jeremy’s legal victory
stands. But in the year since, nothing has
2015 AWARDS EDITION
Ottawa has made no move to fully
implement Jordan’s Principle.
Indigenous child welfare advocates are
biding their time. The decision from the
Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is imminent. Jordan’s Principle is not an issue
mainstream society is fully aware of. But
it’s a reality for First Nations families living in often, small, remote communities,
struggling to care for a child with special
needs. And that’s why it’s a crucial story
for the media to tell.
Tips for covering Indigenous stories:
1. Despite commonalities, don’t
apply a pan-Aboriginal understanding to
a particular First Nation. Indigenous communities are varied, both in culture and
2. Stay and chat, share some food.
Media often sweep in and out in a mad
dash to meet crazy deadlines. But to gain
trust, true understanding and gain contacts
who will help you on your next story…
take the time. It’s worth it.
3. File access-to-information requests. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development Canada is hardly forthcoming with information.
4. Have conversations that don’t
lead to a story. Aboriginal organizations
and band councils can also resemble
Fort Knox when it comes to information.
Develop a few key off-the-record contacts
who you can call. They’ll point you in the
5. One story won’t capture the complex realities of life on-reserve. One story
might paint a chief and council or government as the bad guy. One story might
seem like a fluff piece. So tell as many
stories as you can on the First Nations in
6. Have a sense of humour.
Trina Roache is the Halifax Correspondent, APTN National News. She has been
with the network for eight years. The CAJ
prize is her first award. You can reach her
at(902)292-1911, [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @TrinaRoache
NNA – Journalist of the Year, Editorial Cartooning
Coming to the aid of a fatally
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Halifax Chronicle Herald
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By Bruce MacKinnon
OF URJO LISM
1) An unarmed honour guard had been
had been killed while
2015 Fall Edition
COMPASSIONATE COMRADES COME TO LIFE: Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist who was guarding the National War Memorial outside the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, was shot and killed in a terror attack that ended in a shoot-out on Parliament Hill.
Bruce MacKinnon -- The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, N.S.
But the magnitude of the event, combined with the powerful symbolism of the
war monument, made it too compelling to
avoid. The idea of having one of the statues
coming to the rescue seemed inescapable
to me. Cirillo was killed at the base of the
National War Memorial with the figures of
these historic Canadian soldiers standing
Cartoonists are always seeking out symbolism and metaphor. What do soldiers do
when one of their own is injured? They’re
trained to come to their aid. I wanted to
2015 AWARDS EDITION
animate the soldiers to do what they would
do naturally for one of their own, and also,
to suggest they were taking Cirillo into the
But more than anything, it was a
conscious effort to reflect a compassionate response to the shooting rather than a
violent or hateful one.
To this day I’m still not sure I fully
understand the overwhelming reaction to
this cartoon, though I am grateful that I
was able to at least get it right in a stressful situation.
I am even more grateful
the cartoon was able to provide some level
of comfort and consolation to so many
people, and more importantly, provide
financial support for the families of the
victims through residual sales of prints. That was a unique and tangible benefit
that made me feel good about the continued relevance of editorial cartooning in
Bruce MacKinnon has been the Halifax
Chronicle Herald’s staff editorial cartoonist for 29 years. It was his first overall
win, and fourth NNA win for Editorial
Cartooning; he has had eight nominations
in the category.
NNA – Multimedia Feature and CAJ / Marketwired Data Jour-
A STUDY IN CONCENTRATION: A student at
Adelaide Hoodless Public School gets down to
PHOTO CREDITS: John Rennison/The Hamilton
The Hamilton Spectator uncovered the
connections between standardized test
scores and social and economic factors
reported on standardized test scores
regularly when I was working the
Hamilton Spectator’s education beat. And
each time, regardless of whether the pass
rates went up or down, school board officials reacted in much the same way:
The scores don’t tell the whole story,
they’d say. In fact, the numbers alone can’t
tell you much about a school or school
board at all.
I guess that’s how Keeping Score
started. I was tired of being told what the
data couldn’t tell me, and eager to find out
what it could.
Rather than examining one or even a
couple years’ worth of data, I decided to
look at several in order to uncover local
trends and determine whether the Ontario’s $31-million annual investment in the
assessments is worth it.
It is, the series shows. Particularly because of the tests’ power to help educators
identify and mitigate damaging inequities
in Ontario schools. But it took me a while
to get there.
The project hinged on obtaining at least
six years of elementary test results from
the Education Quality and Accountability
Office, an arm’s-length agency established by the province to monitor student
That should have been the easy part,
given the school- and board-level data is
published online at the end of every round
of testing. But it wasn’t. It took about
three months to get the numbers in a format that would allow me to analyze them.
My initial plan was to scrape the results
from the EQAO website, but the way in
which they are embedded in PDF files
made that virtually impossible. So I ended
up filing a formal request with the office
instead. Then, I waited.
While I didn’t have to submit a freedom-of-information request — something
other journalists were forced to resort to
when trying to get these numbers — I did
have to prod. A lot. That was probably the
biggest roadblock I ran up against.
When I finally got my hands on the
results, I mashed them up with socioeconomic information obtained from the
province’s education ministry and mapped
them. The school-level data was calculated
using information from Statistics Canada’s
2006 census, the Ontario School Information System, which tracks student population characteristics, and postal codes
collected by individual schools.
The results were shocking.
Across Hamilton, there were massive
differences when it came to achievement,
and it was happening despite significant
investments aimed at leveling the playing
field for all kids.
Why did those differences continue to
exist, and what could be done to erase
them? That’s what I set out to answer in
the project, a five-part multimedia series
that revealed clear connections between
EQAO scores and a range of social and
economic factors, including health and
wealth, at more than 140 local elementary
It also found:
Day 2: Why The Difference? Huge
disparities in test results at Catholic and
public schools across the city and the
Day 3: The Gender Imbalance: A persistent gap in achievement between boys
and girls, regardless of income and other
Day 4: Unlocking Potentials: Several
schools that defy expectations, even when
their unique demographics are accounted
Published in April 2014, Keeping Score,
in the day-five story The Road Ahead, also
proposed additional steps that could be
taken by elected officials, educators and
agencies to help both raise the bar and
close the gap for all kids. They listened.
The project, along with my daily reporting on the vast gulf between the city’s
have- and have-not schools, was a key
factor in the Hamilton-Wentworth District
School Board’s commitment to partner
with the city and local agencies on its
systemic overhaul. My recommendations
in Part 5 were also consistent with changes
recently announced by the EQAO aimed at
tailoring the test to specific learning needs
and making the results more accessible to
Some of Keeping Score’s findings, such
as the fact that students in more disadvantaged schools fare poorly on the test
compared to their wealthier peers, weren’t
revolutionary. What was, however, were
the anomalies it uncovered — trends at
schools like Adelaide Hoodless, which improved its average pass rate by more than
60 per cent over six years in spite of the
fact that nearly half of its students, around
three times the provincial average, come
from low-income families.
That was the real beauty of this project.
It found remarkable patterns in unremarkable scores, turning the traditional perception of what it means to be a good school
(i.e., the one with the top pass rates) on its
A Connection to the Born and Code
Keeping Score builds on much of the
landmark work The Spectator has done
to map health and education outcomes.
In particular, there are connections to the
Don McGillivray Award-winning BORN
series I produced with Steve Buist, which
mapped maternal health outcomes in
Hamilton and across the province, and my
Erasing Inequality project, which looked
at differences in outcomes at local high
schools and how they can be mitigated.
There are obvious connections to The
Spectator’s original Code Red series, too,
(even more so to Buist’s follow-up profile
about Parkview Secondary School principal Paul Beattie) as well as my Code Red:
Neighbourhoods project, which looked at
how at-risk neighbourhoods have challenges highlighted in the initial series.
It wasn’t just the numbers that made
Keeping Score powerful. It was the people
— students, parents, educators and others
— who were willing to share their experiences and expertise. For anyone interested
in undertaking a similar project, I think my
single biggest piece of advice would be to
avoid losing sight of those voices when
you’re swimming in data. They bring the
numbers to life.
In fact, that pretty much sums up my
2015 AWARDS EDITION
Gabrielle Duchaine and Caroline Touzin,
Montreal La Presse, for a three-part
interactive look at crime in all its facets in
Quebec and Montreal
Toronto Star team, for coverage commemorating the 100th anniversary of the
start of the First World War, including a
walk of the Western Front
Meet the fire hydrant that makes Toronto
the most money from parking tickets
The Canadian Press
Here’s the sex offender map Ontario
didn’t want you to see
Robert Cribb, Matthew Cole
Christine Bennett, Heather Brimicombe,
Emma Davie, Catharina de Waal, Ian
Froese, Matt Gray, Nicolas Haddad,
Braeden Jones, Dave Lostracco, Kendra
Lovegrove, Shannon MacDonald, Megan
Marrelli, Erin McCabe, Helen Pike,
Kelsey Power, Kristie Smith, JesseWard
University of King’s College / The
Chronicle Herald, Halifax, N.S.
approach to data-crunching. While it’s important — even integral — to what I do on
a day-to-day basis (I use it for everything
from generating story ideas to elevating
my daily files), I nonetheless see it as a
tool; a means of telling a story about a
person, place or event, rather than an end.
I didn’t love education reporting. In fact,
a few months after Keeping Score was
published, I jumped at a chance to shift to
the sports department where I’m now writing about hockey (a data geek’s dream!).
It’s important, though — and not just
because education is a multi-billion-dollar
public service. It’s important because
how it’s administered, and by whom, can
profound affect a student’s future.
In my three years on the beat, I spent a
lot of time at school board meetings, poring over minutes and agendas — probably
more than most of the education reporters
who came before me at The Spectator. It
was boring, but it paid off. I ended up with
a deep understanding of the inner workings of Ontario’s school systems at the
local and provincial level. I think educators and administrators respected that expertise. It also helped me gain their trust,
which was invaluable on this beat.
So that’s my other piece of advice for
education reporters — know your stuff,
because that knowledge will help you
build relationships in what is sometimes
an insular field.
I’m happy to chat anytime about education, sports, data and other stuff. You can
find me at [email protected] or on
Twitter at @TeriattheSpec.
NNA – Sports
“Two Teams, Two Dreams”
BATTLING FOR THE PUCK: Matt Boyd of the Quad City Mallards give
the Beast’s Jamie “Jim” VanderVeeken a close shave in the third period of
the final of two road games.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jim Rankin/Toronto Star
By Jim Coyle
(Left to right) Jim Coyle, Paul Hunter, Jim Rankin, Steve Russell
ike most guys who grew up in
Canada, Paul Hunter and Jim
Rankin were of the view that nothing beats
a road trip.
Then the Toronto Star journalists met
the Brampton Beast.
Hunter and Rankin were part of a Star
team that won the 2014 National Newspaper Award for Sportswriting. They
chronicled the life and times of the semipro Beast, a team in the Central Hockey
League two levels below the NHL and a
world away from its glamour.
Their colleagues Jim Coyle and Steve
Russell, meanwhile, reported on the
return to North Bay of an Ontario Hockey
League franchise, and what that meant
economically and socially to a small city
of 55,000 that had lost its team a dozen
Together, in the Star series “Two Teams,
Two Dreams,” the reporters and photojournalists tried to capture what hockey
means in Canada, far from the bright lights
and big cities of the NHL.
If, as the saying goes, Canada is hockey,
they reckoned that it was so in its truest
sense where the game is loved most and
played hardest by those on the way up, or
on the way down.
For Hunter and Rankin, in particular,
the assignment was a bone-rattling eyeopener.
They travelled with the Beast, a team
of dreamers in a league where the players
are older, the pay is poor and the miles
are long, to Moline, Ill., in the American
“It was a hell of a road trip, involving
two overnight blizzards,” photojournalist
“We were on a sleeper bus, the kind
reserved for rock stars, but I don’t know
how anyone could ever sleep through the
white-knuckle conditions we experienced.
“You’re confined to a narrow bunk, and
they are stacked three high. You had a tiny
window if you were lucky. I chose to lie
with my feet facing the front of the bus,
thinking that in the event of a sudden stop,
I’d fly onto the Interstate feet first.
“On the first sleepless night, I remember hearing the coach whisper to the bus
driver, “Chris, what’s wrong?”
“We’d come to a stop in the middle of
nowhere, and the driver simply replied, “I
It got their attention.
As 26-year-old winger Scott Howes, an
experienced road tripper, told the Star: “I
dread the bus. But it’s one of those things.
If you want to play, you have to do it.”
In many ways, the two Star teams were
engaged in the most old-fashioned of
journalism: getting to know the cast of
characters, seeking to understand and describe their dreams and motivations, trying
to convey mood, scene, meaning, mining
the ordinary subject matter of hockey, and
then turning it into a story of love, commitment, pride and aspiration.
To the writers, Hunter and Coyle, that
meant paying attention, filling notebooks
with small observed detail, with a player’s
succinct but telling quip, seeking the pivotal vignette that speaks volumes.
The award-winning series was born in
one of the famous Star features meetings
run by former editor Alison Uncles, now
with Maclean’s magazine.
Uncles has a reputation as a one-woman
idea machine, an editor who when she’s
not proposing stories of her own can take
a reporter’s vague notion and see in an
instant what the finished product might
look like fully imagined in the newspaper,
At one meeting, Coyle -- who had
worked decades earlier at CP with North
Bay Battalion owner Scott Abbott, before
the former sports reporter made a fortune
inventing Trivial Pursuit -- suggested the
return of OHL hockey to North Bay with
the transfer of the team from Brampton
might make a good story.
Hunter, a hockey Dad and former Star
sports reporter, chimed in that the void left
in Brampton, when the Battalion left for
North Bay, had been filled by the semipro Beast, and a look at that squad might
provide a nice bookend to Coyle’s idea.
Uncles reacted as she always did when
an idea struck her fancy.
“Oh my gosh, we have to do it!” she
She immediately hit on the “Two Teams,
Two Dreams” packaging.
She wanted Coyle to go beyond hockey
and talk to local business owners, political and community leaders, the fan on the
street about the impact of a Junior A team
on the economy, young people community
From Hunter and Rankin, she hoped
for a collective plumbing of the psyche of
men who had a quixotic Canadian dream
of maybe making it, against all odds, to
Journalists often say there are some
assignments that are so much fun they
almost feel guilty taking a paycheque.
(Almost.) And this was one of them.
For Hunter and Rankin, on the Beast
bus, their subject was contained, close at
hand, conditions intimate.
For Coyle and Russell in North Bay, it
meant covering a story that had involved
and excited an entire city.
It meant getting to know the town, its
business people, its hockey eccentrics. It
meant learning the local power-brokers
– the Liberals, the Conservatives who had
put aside political differences to collaborate on winning the franchise, in renovating the local rink, and in putting a first-rate
product on the ice.
The Star staffers found a hockey-happy
town that had its heart warmed by a bunch
of teenage players through one of the coldest winters in recent times.
Together, Alison Uncles and her team
produced a deeply reported package that
offered a close-up look at hockey as it is
lived by players and experienced by communities all across Canada.
Whatever the price of playing – or
supporting – the game they love, it seems
Canadians are usually willing to pay it.
Besides, as the veterans assured Rankin
and Hunter, their slippery trip aboard the
Beast bus, through the snowy night of the
U.S. hinterland was nothing too tough.
“When you’ve been on the road as long
as we have, and seen some of the horror
stories we’ve gone through,” said assistant
coach Brent Hughes, “This is a breeze.”
1) Our minor sports are woefully undercovered. The same sort of Shakespearean
elements – the thrill of victory, agony
2015 AWARDS EDITION
LET’S PLAY: Brendan O’Neill starts for the Battalion.
PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Russell/Toronto Star
Gabriel Béland, Montreal La Presse, for
stories on the consequences of a concussion on a minor league hockey player, a
triple-A midget team opening its locker
room to seven First Nation players, and
how a soldier wounded in Afghanistan
kept a hold on life through hockey
Joe O’Connor, National Post, for his
coverage of an African-American innercity high school football team and its
white coach, a story about race relations
in America that needed to be heard above
the roar of Ferguson
of defeat, cruel twists of fate, untimely
goalposts etc. – occur at all levels and are
there for the telling. The human emotion
and reaction are the same, even if the
stakes aren’t as rich or the arenas as big.
A couple of journalism truisms are that,
(a) the best stories come from the losing
dressing room, not the winning, and (b)
the key to a story or photo is often the
thing or person on the periphery, on the
edge of the spotlight, just off-centre. These
axioms were at play in this series.
We were conscious that the very thing
that might give it some appeal to the NNA
judges was that it was a bit off the beaten
path, that it was small-time and minor
We figured obscurity played to our
advantage. And we knew that, obscurity
notwithstanding, all the elements to make
an evocative story were there.
2) The writing tips I give students have
remained the same for years.
There are no shortcuts. You have to read
-- a lot. And you have to write -- a lot
Most people think that because they can
speak English, they should be able to write
To me, that’s like saying because I can
hum Bruce Springsteen, I should be able
to pick up a guitar and play his songs. But
it doesn’t work that way.
It takes a lot of practice to master an
instrument sufficiently to get the music in
your heart and soul for others to understand and enjoy. It’s the same with writing.
It takes practice to be able to identify your
feelings, gather your ideas and express
them with force and clarity.
All of the above explains why so many
students are dissatisfied and give up after
a first or second draft because it doesn’t
I tell them that even after 35 years, I
never send a first draft to the Star. I rewrite
top to bottom, 10, 20, 30 times.
‘Coz as Hemingway said, the hard part
of this biz is getting the words right.
Jim Coyle joined the Toronto Star in
1997. Before that, he was a provincial
affairs columnist for the Ottawa Citizen
for seven years, and enjoyed a 12-year
stint at The Canadian Press where he
chiefly worked at Queen’s Park and on
Parliament Hill. Coyle has written The
Quiet Evolution: How Dalton McGuinty
Changed Ontario – and Why He Resigned.
The exclusive Star Dispatches eRead is
available in the Star Store (starstore.ca).
You can reach Jim at 416-869-4967.
NNA – Investigations and CAJ Open Media category
FINALISTS: Kevin Donovan, Jesse
Brown and Jacques Gallant, Toronto
Star, for their investigation of allegations of sexual assault by CBC Host
NNA – Investigations and CAJ Open Media category
Investigative category: Remorseless
Katia Gagnon, Montreal La Presse,
for her investigation into the permissiveness on the part of general practitioners and pharmacists in dispensing
The Hamilton Spectator
sat at the living room table across
from Ed Huard, a heavily tattooed
guy with wary eyes who had once huddled
in the trunk of a car clutching a sawed-off
shot gun, waiting to kill another man.
In tracking down Huard, I thought I had
landed a key interview for my investigative story about Jeremy Hall, a former
colleague of Huard’s. Hall was a Hamilton
career criminal sentenced to life in prison
for murdering a man named Billy Mason
as revenge over a drug deal gone wrong,
then burning Mason’s body and stuffing
the ashes in farm animal feedbags.
But as I cracked open my notebook at
the table and turned on my tape recorder,
Huard’s first words to me were: “So,
what’s in it for me?”
What’s in it for him? He wanted to get
paid. Of course he did, I thought, reprimanding myself for not anticipating this.
I knew my answer would make or break
my pipeline to Ed Huard, and thus a key
source into what makes Jeremy Hall tick.
This meeting with Huard, in the summer
of 2013, was one early hurdle I had to
clear in my investigation into a story that
ultimately became a seven-part series in
The Hamilton Spectator called “Remorseless” about the life and crimes of Hall.
Earlier that year Spec editor-in-chief
Paul Berton had called me into his office
to pitch the Hall story to me. Hall was
well-known to readers from our coverage of his first-degree murder trial. I had
written a number of series in the past that
detailed homicide investigations, but Paul
wanted the focus entirely on the killer, and
how he came to exist in our midst.
There were several challenges.
One, Hamilton’s Police Chief is, to put
it mildly, not media-friendly. He told his
officers not to meet with me for any reason, much less to discuss Hall.
Two, I wrote Jeremy Hall a letter and
he agreed to a jailhouse interview, but the
warden refused to let me see him.
Three, a lawyer (not Hall’s) warned me
early on about “taking on Hall” in a story
because, the lawyer said, Hall was still
dangerous, even from prison. That got me
thinking about whether my personal safety
was at issue. I tackled this last obstacle
by speaking at length with my supervising
editor, Cheryl Stepan, who was as usual
completely supportive of my concerns,
and also with a Crown attorney and a
detective who had faced off against Hall
years ago. I came to believe that having
journalists murdered was almost certainly
not Hall’s thing.
As for the other obstacles: Active
Hamilton Police officers would not go on
the record with me, but a couple of retired
cops, no longer under the chief’s wing,
and who investigated Hall, helped me
considerably. One officer drove me out to
the scene in a remote country field where
Hall shot Mason, and I used colour from
that scene to lead the series.
I mined court transcripts and, critically,
combed through documents at the Court
of Appeal in Toronto, to write dialogue
and detail the investigation. I landed
interviews with all three lawyers on Hall’s
defence team, and both Crown attorneys
who prosecuted, even though they were all
initially and understandably reticent.
Most importantly, I was able to access
Hall’s views from jail even though the
warden had turned me down, by submitting written questions to Hall, which he
answered in impressive detail, laced with
his trademark cursing. For the first time
ever, Jeremy Hall, who never testified in
court, told of his crimes and childhood,
and I was able to capture his voice in an
unvarnished portrait of his life.
As for the afternoon that Ed Huard,
Hall’s one-time, would-be hit-man (he
never did pull the trigger), asked “what’s
in it for me?” I chose my words in response to him carefully.
“Nothing is in it for you,” I said to him.
“Except telling the truth.”
I told him the Spectator does not pay
for interviews, but that he had already told
the truth in court, testifying against Hall,
and I hoped he would do it for me as well
so I could write a detailed and accurate
story. I left the ball in his hands that day.
He called me a few days later and said he
would do it, we scheduled a second meeting, and he gave a terrific interview.
The series’ title came from a question I
submitted to Hall about one of his many
tattoos. Why did he have one that read
“remorseless?” Hall replied that a judge
had called him remorseless to his face in
court years ago over an assault charge.
A transcript I read confirmed it. So Hall
got that tattoo as if to say, you want to see
remorseless? Here it is, right on my skin.
So the series title became Remorseless,
because Jeremy Hall was, and was not,
remorseless for all that he had done. A life,
even a criminal and murderous life like
Hall’s, is never black and white.
Some readers in the community were
offended by the series, thinking it sympa-
A BRUTAL MURDER: Jeremy Hall was a
Hamilton career criminal sentenced to life in
prison for murdering a man named Billy Mason
(pictured above) as revenge over a drug deal
gone wrong, then burning Mason’s body and
stuffing the ashes in farm animal feedbags.
PHOTO CREDIT: Special to The Hamilton
thetic to Hall. But Remorseless was not a
sympathetic portrayal, it was, I believe, a
brutally honest one. I received an angry
phone call from a reader after the series
ran, who felt it was unjust to the victim,
Billy Mason, that the story was all about
his killer. I understood her point of view,
and calls like that are hard to take. In
the end I was proud of the story and was
glad when it was over. The series won a
CAJ Award in investigations, and also a
National Newspaper Award in the same
category. The recognition felt gratifying,
although I never set out to write a story
with an award in mind.
Jennifer O’Brien, Kate Dubinski,
Randy Richmond, Derek Ruttan and
Jonathan Sher, London Free Press
for peeling back the layers of a group
home fire story to reveal a shocking
neglect of mentally ill residents in
Marco Chown Oved
Mining and International Aid
Toronto Star / R. James Traers International Corresponding Fellowship
Jayme Poisson, Emily Mathieu,
Sexual Assault on Canadian Campuses
WEIGHING THE DANGER: A lawyer warned
me early on about “taking on (Jeremy) Hall”
in a story because he was still dangerous,
even from prison. That got me thinking about
whether my personal safety was at issue. I
came to believe that having journalists murdered was almost certainly not Hall’s thing.
PHOTO CREDIT: Special to The Hamilton
One, always look for alternative sources
when roadblocks are in your way: people,
documents, geographic scenes.
There are many ways to gather detail,
even when it looks like you’ve got nothing.
Two, be patient with sources. That is, be
aggressive when necessary, but try to
let them come to you. If they want to talk,
they will. If they refuse, don’t dwell on
it, find a way around it, seek other voices,
don’t stop gathering, or thinking about
ways into your story.
Jon Wells writes feature stories for The
Hamilton Spectator and has had seven
books published, the most recent, “Death’s
Shadow” (Dundurn). He’s a graduate of
Western University (Political Science) and
Carleton University (Masters Journalism).
For exclusive content, stories, interviews about journalism turn to Media.
Issues date back to the spring of 1998
2015 AWARD EDITION
NNA – Explanatory Work
THE FORGOTTEN MAN: Robert Sinclair holds a portrait of
his first cousin Brian Sinclair at a news conference after Provincial court Judge Ray Wyant said in a ruling that the legal aid rate
which the government has offered to the family to date is inadequate for their participation in an inquest that will be lengthy
and complicated. Brian Sinclair, a disabled aboriginal man, died
in Sept. 2008, after waiting 34 hours in the emergency room of
the Health Sciences Centre.
PHOTO CREDIT: WAYNE GLOWACKI/Winnipeg Free Press
For “34 Hours: While He Waited,” study of racism in
Winnipeg Free Press
ow could someone die in the waiting room of Winnipeg’s busiest
hospital emergency department? How
could someone sit there for 34 hours without receiving treatment?
And how could someone be dead there
for up to seven hours without anyone
Those were just some of the questions
I had when I was assigned to cover the
months-long inquest examining the death
of Brian Sinclair at the Health Sciences
Centre in Winnipeg in Sept. 2008.
While my daily coverage focused on the
witnesses who were testifying during the
inquest, I also had the opportunity to look
deeper into what happened. This resulted
in the writing of the feature 34 Hours:
While He Waited.
The inquest found that Sinclair died of
a treatable bladder infection caused by
a blocked urinary catheter. He had been
dead for so long that when doctors tried
to revive him they found that rigor mortis
was already setting in. Video evidence was
played at the inquest which showed Sinclair arrive at emergency, talk briefly to a
triage aide who scribbled something down
on a piece of paper, and then go into the
waiting area of the emergency department
where, except for a brief period when he
rolled his wheelchair past the triage desk
looking like he was trying to figure out
why somebody else had been called before
him, he spent the next 34 hours.
The video also showed that Sinclair sat
in his wheelchair where numerous people,
both hospital staff and patients, walked
back and forth whether to go to the washroom, get a snack, or go to the main area
of the hospital.
I’ve said before that when I first went
to the inquest, all I knew about Sinclair
was that he was aboriginal, had lost both
his legs to severe frostbite the year before
his death, so he used a wheelchair to get
around. He was homeless. He had died
without getting lifesaving treatment at the
Health Sciences Centre.
But within the first few minutes of the
inquest beginning I was surprised to learn
I was wrong about one thing. Sinclair was
not homeless. In fact, not only was he
under the supervision of the province’s
Public Trustee’s Office, but he had also
been living for months in a personal care
facility funded by the province.
Where did we and our readers learn Sinclair was homeless? Spokespeople for the
hospital announced this in the days follow-
ing Sinclair’s death, and it was a mistake
that has continued to be repeated by Winnipeggers and media outlets – including
on occasion, my own – in the years since.
And it’s a mistake that fuels a perception
with many people that somehow Sinclair’s
death was caused in part by himself.
During the days, weeks and months
of the inquest – and before the judge
came out with his final report – I began
wondering about the 199 other patients
who passed through the same emergency
room doors that Sinclair went through, but
who did receive treatment. A few of those
patients testified at the inquest, but their
evidence focused mostly on the questions
of ‘did you see Sinclair and what did you
see happening around him?’ I wanted to
find out more about what treatment they
received while Sinclair sat in his wheelchair in the department’s waiting room and
whether those illnesses were so critical or
time-consuming that it resulted in Sinclair
I’ve covered court cases numerous
times – I was once the Free Press’ courts
reporter – and I know the best way to fully
cover a case, whether it’s a murder trial or
an inquest, is to be there full-time.
But I also know that’s a luxury and even
more so when we’re in a time of declining
numbers of staff due to cutbacks. It has
become tougher for newspapers to take a
reporter out of the mix to cover one story
full-time. Thankfully, my editors at the
Free Press decided we would cover the
Through the days and weeks of tweeting, writing short stories for our website,
and longer stories for the newspaper, and
as I learned about what happened during
the weekend Sinclair was there, I began
thinking about why others received care
while Sinclair did not.
Yes, there were some days where the
stories weren’t as dramatic as other days,
but it was only by sitting there daily that
the pieces of my explanatory feature began
I had noticed that the Crown attorneys
would always introduce a witness, who
had been a patient there, by looking at
a document and verifying the time they
arrived at the hospital and when they left.
A few times the document appeared to be
used to verify why the patient was there.
It was this lengthy document, dozens of
pages long, and one which I only received
after having to make a formal request to
the inquest judge himself. That document
formed the foundation for my story. Much
of the feature was taking these pages
filled with raw information and statistics
and distilling it into what I hoped was a
reader-friendly story along with a timeline
to show what was happening in the emergency room while Sinclair was there. I
also added in the comments of the patients
or family members who were there at
the time and who saw Sinclair, as well as
commentary by emergency room experts.
The feature explored issues of bed
2015 AWARDS EDITION
Josh Wingrove and Chris Hannay,
The Globe and Mail, for their explanation of Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, which changes the rules for
voters, candidates, parties and the
people whose job it is to make sure
elections are fair
Marie-Claude Malboeuf, Montreal
La Presse, for her examination of the
hidden marketplace within the web,
often called “the deep web”
shortages in the hospital. Issues of patient
flow. The patients who take up beds when
they should be in long-term care facilities.
The allegations of racism in the emergency room. The perception that a person like
Sinclair would only be in the waiting room
not for care, but because it was a safe
place to get off the street and go to sleep.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority implemented changes in the days and
weeks after Sinclair’s death.
The inquest judge came up with 63 recommendations which the Health Sciences
Centre and the provincial government
continue to implement.
The hope is that through my story that
our readers – and medical and government
officials – could get a better idea what was
going on during the 34 hours Sinclair was
in the waiting room, and see why changes
needed to be made.
For those reporters not able to cover an
inquest or a court hearing on a daily basis,
it becomes essential to build up sources
and have good relations with all of the
You also need to get contact information. So make sure you speak with the
Crown attorneys, the defence counsels,
and the lawyers representing the hospitals,
nursing unions, and indigenous organizations.
Also make contact with the surviving
family members who may only be there on
the opening day of the inquest, or sporadically through the months. These are all
people who can help you decide whether
to cover the day’s hearings by letting you
know which witnesses are coming on a
given day, and what they are expected to
Kevin Rollason is a reporter at the
Winnipeg Free Press. He graduated from
the University of Windsor’s communication studies program and received a
Master of Journalism degree from Western
University. Kevin has been at the Free
Press since 1988. Before that, after graduation, he was with the Winnipeg Sun from
1985 to 1988. He has covered the law
courts, city hall, and also specialized in
health, aviation, and philanthropic issues.
He can be reached at [email protected]
NNA– Beat Reporting
GRIEVING HER LOSS: Eileen Mohan is the mother of Chris
Mohan, one of two innocent bystanders killed in a Surrey high
rise. She supports a police crackdown on gangs.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mark van Manen/Vancouver Sun.
For coverage of crime
s the Vancouver Sun’s crime reporter, I won a National Newspaper
Award in the `Beats’ Category. That means
I entered a portfolio of five stories that I
worked on at different points in the year.
It’s always a challenge when you write
hundreds of stories on a beat to decide
what – if anything – is worthy of entering
come awards season. I decided to select
stories that represented a wide range of
what I covered in 2014.
Two of the stories came out of my
coverage of the historic `Surrey Six’ trial,
where members of a gang called the Red
Scorpions were prosecuted for six 2007
murders, including the deaths of two innocent bystanders.
I included an investigative feature
written before the verdict in which I
documented how many people whose
names were referenced during the trial
had died violently. I was able to draw on
my knowledge of the local gang scene to
expand on the passing references during
the trial, and to show how much more
widespread the violence was than the Surrey Six murders.
I also entered the story I wrote on verdict day, which was more of an analysis
of the verdict and what had persuaded the
judge to convict the two accused on all
I decided I needed to show the judges
deadline work as well, so included a story
about a police officer charged with murder
after shooting an armed suspect during an
Emergency Response Team take-down.
And the final two stories were investigative and revealed that Mexican cartels sent
point people to Metro Vancouver to broker
major deals with local gangs. I managed to
dig up a lot of documentation proving this
How I got them:
I was lucky enough to attend the Surrey
Six trial every day it sat over an entire
year. I tweeted the trial in live time. I
wrote a couple of stories each day. But I
still had a lot of additional information and
material that I wanted to expand on.
Given that it was a judge-alone trial, I
could do interviews and dig up information related to what I was hearing in court
without jeopardizing the fair-trial rights of
the accused. I was struck by the number
of names that came out in passing that I
knew from my beat coverage were people
who had died violently. Sometimes only
Surrey Six story links:
a nickname was mentioned, but I jotted
them all down and cross-referenced them
with other gang files I had and wrote the
first feature. The Sun ran it just before the
My verdict story was written after a
really long day. I had already filed two
or three earlier versions when the desk
asked me for something fresh. I honestly
was so tired that I was going to say no.
But I stepped back and reflected on the
whole trial and it struck me that the only
reason these gangsters were convicted was
because their former associates had turned
on them. So that’s what I wrote.
The story I wrote about the Delta cop
charged with murder was really just a
typical breaking story where you try to
find out as much as you can and write it
all up on deadline. What distinguished
that story from others was that I was able
to determine that he was the first officer
in B.C. charged with murder in decades
and that all the other cases had collapsed.
Interestingly, the charge was stayed a few
The final two beat stories on the cartels
took me weeks to pull together. I had seen
a reference in a Vancouver court file about
a local guy named Ariel Savein being extradited to the U.S. in a money laundering
case. That piqued my interest.
So I went into the U.S. court database
and starting pulling files. So much of the
material was sealed that I really had to go
on a fishing expedition, pulling related
cases or only using file numbers to see if I
could find more documents.
It was really fun digging. I also talked
to police and gang sources and was able to
get copies of the transcripts of interviews
with some of the Mexicans who had been
The main obstacle that I encountered
really impacts all beat reporters – time
management. I get so many tips and could
spend all my time doing investigative or
enterprise stories. But I also have to cover
daily stories in order to properly work my
beat. So striking the right balance is a
With my Surrey Six features, I would
make notes of interesting things in court
that I wanted to follow up on. I kept files
and I grabbed police and prosecutors in
the hallways to check on things that I felt
warranted more coverage. Then when
there was a break in the trial, I scrambled
to get the bigger stories done.
I had more challenges with my cartel
stories. I received some pretty nasty calls
and emails trying to stop me from exposing some people who were involved in the
That was unpleasant. Some cops were
also trying to shut me down, as I was trying to get more information. But others
really came through for me, which was
great. Managing the volume of material
and all the names was also an obstacle.
But I came up with systems to narrow
the material I was using to those with a
definite Vancouver link.
2015 AWARDS EDITION
Never limit yourself to the assignments
that are handed to you on a daily basis.
Even if you’re a general assignment reporter, try to find time in your schedule to
go after enterprise or investigative stories
The Globe and Mail
Josh Wingrove, Steven Chase, Ann
Hui, Joe Friesen and Ian Brown for
capturing the drama of the shooting
on Parliament Hill
Moncton Times & Transcript \
A team of journalists for coverage
of the shooting rampage that left
three RCMP officers dead and two
Montreal La Presse
A team of journalists for coverage
of the deliberate ramming of two
Canadian Forces soldiers in St-Jeansur-Richelieu
or even just interesting features.
Develop systems for managing information, interviews and documents on longerterm projects. Create a timeline so you can
take advantage of breaks in daily coverage
to dig into something deeper.
Talk to other reporters. Sometimes
working with a partner allows you to complete an investigation faster with a better
story resulting from the collaboration.
Never overlook the sources that are right
there in front of you. I can find something
in a court ruling or document that isn’t
meaningful to other reporters because I’ve
had the advantage of being on my beat for
a long time.
Kim Bolan covers gangs, terrorism,
drugs and justice for The Vancovuer Sun.
This is her second NNA win. The first was
for her coverage of Robert Pickton. Bolan
has been on the front lines of B.C. crime
coverage stretching all the way back to the
1985 Air India bombing.
In 2014, she covered the trial and verdict for the 2007 Surrey Six murder case,
as well as a two-part series on Mexican
cartels setting up shop in B.C. Bolan also
writes a popular blog called The Real
Scoop, and can be reached at 604-2195740 or [email protected]
NNA – Short Feature
For a reappraisal of what it was like
to be a woman reporting on the
hen my reporting on the largest
mass murder of women in Canadian history garnered congratulations from
my male editors and male colleagues,
it should have been a red flag that I had
failed on many counts.
If I wasn’t making readers, especially
men, feel uncomfortable about the misogyny-fuelled slaughter, then my choice of
adjectives and imagery, interviews and
omissions, were constructed in a way that
did not challenge the prevailing societal
script about the place of women in our
society; or expose the sexist continuum
that made women targets of rape, assault
and murder and kept them out of leadership roles in newsrooms and engineering
schools and beyond.
But that insight is hindsight – twentyfive years’ worth.
On Dec. 6, 1989, I was a young reporter
sent by my then-employer, the Toronto
Star, to cover the massacre at L’Ecole
Polytechnique in Montreal. For six days
I wrote about the killer, the victims and
the grieving family. I shied away from
interviewing so-called angry feminists. At
the time, their place in mainstream media
As the 25th anniversary approached, I
pitched a piece to a Star editor suggesting I revisit the event. When I did not
hear back, I offered a piece to the Ottawa
Citizen, where I had worked for 22 years
before taking the buyout in 2012 to work
in the non-profit sector. Editor Andrew
Potter commissioned the piece.
As I re-read archived stories, and the
analysis by academics, I started to reevaluate who I’d interviewed and who I’d
excluded all those years ago, along with
the phrases I’d chosen to describe the murdered women and how I’d steered clear
of any truly outraged women. I watched a
1995 film Reframing the Montreal Massacre: A media interrogation by Maureen
Bradley, now a professor at the University
of Victoria, who asserted that the mainstream media had silenced so-called ‘angry feminists’ and used “social gatekeeping” to make the story more palatable.
It was an ‘aha’ moment for me. I’d done
exactly that, whether subconsciously, or
to get a pat on the head from my male editors. In my remembrance, on Dec. 6, 2014,
“I fear I sanitized the event of its feminist anger and then infantilized and diminished the victims, turning them from elite
engineering students who’d fought for a
place among men into teddy-bear loving
daughters, sisters and girlfriends.
“My reporting was, no doubt, coloured
by the response I got from male editors
—and I had only male editors—when I
pitched stories on women’s issues (not
exactly front-page news in the 1980s) and
by the way I’d had to negotiate minefields
of gender politics just to get hired. I felt
lucky to have been sent to cover the tragedy at all.”
I also reflected on how Barbara Frum,
one of Canada’s most respected journalists, refused to admit on CBC’s The Journal that the massacre was indeed an act of
violence toward women.
“Why do we diminish it by suggesting
that it was an act against just one group?”
Frum asked on CBC’s The Journal following the slaughter.
“If it was 14 men would we be having vigils? Isn’t violence the monstrosity
I wrote, “She refused to even utter the
word feminist. But then, her neutralizing
of feminist anger must have resonated, and
perhaps was reflexive. Maureen Bradley, in her documentary, wondered about
Frum’s stance: “Was it necessary to deny
any shred of feminism in herself in order
to get where she was in this bureaucratic,
media institution, boys’ club?”’
That’s such a provocative question, as
much today as it was 25 years ago. As
female journalists—still the odd ducks at
the morning news meetings and a rarity on
mastheads and in exec producer chairs—
what do we keep to ourselves for fear
of seeming ‘uppity,’ ‘no fun’ or ‘shrill?”
And how does our reticence, silence and
complicity, impact how we cover stories
then? And now?
And what price do we pay if we are our
authentic selves in pursuit of the news?
Just as Jill Abramson, former executive
editor of the New York Times who was
unceremoniously sacked in early 2015 for
a dispute over salary inequities, ingrained
(From left to right) Anne-Marie Edward, Anne-Marie Lemay, Annie St-Arnaud, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Daigneault, Barbara Lkucznik, Geneviève Bergeron, Helen Colgan, Maryse Laganière,
Maryse Leclair, Maud Haviernick, Michèle Richard, Nathalie Croteau,
PHOTO CREDITS: Ecole Polytechnique
sexism, or both.
Vivian Smith’s recent book, Outsiders
Still: Why Women Journalists Love—
and Leave—Their Newspaper Careers
(University of Toronto Press; 2015) is
an examination of that. Smith notes that
women account for only about one third of
editorial workers in Canadian newspapers.
Only four of the country’s top 25 papers
had women editors-in-chief in 2014. But I
In order to write the remembrance, I reevaluated everything I’d written, including a sentence I’d crafted with particular
“They stood crying before the coffins of
strangers, offering roses and tiger lilies to
young women they never knew.”
In hindsight, it showed everything that
was wrong with how I covered the event. I
wrote in my remembrance:
“I turned the dead engineering students
into sleeping beauties who received flowers from potential suitors. I should have
referred to the buildings they wouldn’t
design, the machines they wouldn’t create
and the products never imagined.”
After my article ran in the Citizen, I
heard from hundreds of journalists, both
2015 AWARDS EDITION
Michèle Ouimet, Montreal La Presse,
for an intimate portrait of a former
municipal politician stricken with
Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star, for
shedding light on the ongoing tragedy
that is Somalia
female and male, female engineers and
Among them was Wendy Gentleman, an
associate professor in the faculty of Engineering at Dalhousie University, who’d
contacted me after my Dec. 6, 2014, piece
ran. At the time of the massacre, she was
a first-year engineering undergraduate at
McGill University. She gives a lecture
about the massacre every Dec. 6.
In a letter of support for my piece, she
wrote, “I hadn’t appreciated that I — as a
reader — was doing what she [Ms. Page]
— as the writer — had subconsciously
done: let years of subtle societal conditioning sanitize our reactions and discussions.”
She added, “For my part in maintaining de-sanitized discussions on these
topics, I have chosen to share Ms. Page’s
piece with my engineering students, and
to quote verbatim from her profoundly
affecting closing commentary in my December 6th ceremony presentation.”
On a personal note, my teenage daughter went to an engineering camp this past
summer and is considering studying engineering at university.
After my piece appeared, I was dismayed to hear from so many female engineers who said their faculties and places of
work are still unwelcoming to women.
For the sake of my daughter and her
cohort, I hope the doors at the top open
wider, whether they decide to become
engineers — or journalists.
Shelley Page was a journalist for 27
years before joining a global non-profit
organization as Strategic Communications
Director and Executive Editor. She is cowriting a documentary, Talent Untapped,
on people with disabilities in the workforce.
NNA – Sports Photography
For capturing the desperation of a
tennis player trying to get the ball
over the net
knew it was going to be a good match
at the Rogers Cup, but I had no idea
just how good it was going to be.
Novak Djokovic, ranked world No. 1
in men’s singles tennis was playing Gaël
Sébastien Monfils, who was reaching a
career-high singles, ranking 7th in the
world. Professional tennis is a sport I truly love
to cover and have played all my life. These days, as newspaper photographers are being asked to be take on more
responsibilities as multi-media journalists,
the opportunity to deliver quality content
and concentrate on one’s preferred skill
Because of licensing agreements,
professional sports restricts what we can
focus on. So actual events provide sports
photographers with opportunities to focus
on their craft, chances that rarely exist in
our day-to-day jobs.
Tennis has everything: speed, strength
and agility. For me, the sport has always
exciting to shoot.
The technology has changed dramatically since the first matches I photographed
as a spectator at the Canadian Open,
watching Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and
They were playing with wooden Dunlop
Maxply and Donnay tennis racquets.
My camera’s technology was extremely
primitive with a strictly manual focus.
With current autofocus and exposure
and 14 frame-per-second bursts, the task
of capturing award-winners is easier than
it used to be.
However, the photographer must still
have good timing, proper framing, persistence, focus -- and luck.
When I attempt to capture the ball on
the end of the racquet being compressed
by an incredibly powerful swing, I often
shoot single frame and not try to rely on
the speed of the camera to catch that split
second of action, because often, even with
14 frames per second, the best action is
between frames. Early in the match, I spent a few minutes on each player, single-framing action
and attempting to capture that predictable
peak tennis action shot.
I then settled in with the camera set to
multiple frames to watch and hopefully
capture some great tennis. As tempting as it was to stop photographing and watch, I rarely took my eye
from the back of the camera for fear of
missing an unpredictable, photographic
opportunity. I primarily chose to watch Monfils, who
Toronto Raptors forward Tyler Hansbrough
(back) tumbles over Chicago Bulls centre
Joakim Noah (13) during second half NBA
action in Toronto on Thursday, November
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press
is known for his passion, acrobatics, and
unpredictability on court.
Then the moment came.
Djokovic drilled a great passing shot
that Monfils knew he couldn’t reach. So
out of desperation, or for fun, he lunged at
the ball in my direction, stretched his hand
and tossed his racquet at the ball. I shot a
burst of frames.
Amazingly, the racquet hit the ball
which flew back over the net.
The outcome was predictable.
Djokovic easily returned the shot to a
racketless opponent, and then went on to
win the match.
Only one of my frames was sharp. Fortunately, it had all the elements: the ball,
the racquet in mid-air, his outstretched
hand, his fabulous intense expression, and
his flying hair. The best shot that day, and maybe that
year, did not come from covering the winner.
In addition to his 2014 NNA for sports
photography, Stan Behal won the 1988
National Newspaper Award -Sports
Photography for Ben Wins Gold in Seoul,
Korea, and the 1996 National Press Photographers Association award for ‘GailForce Win’ (Gail Devers Wins Gold in
THE DESPERATE LUNGE: Gael Monfils (FRA) dives desperately for the ball in action against number one ranked Novak Djokovic (SRB).
Monfils took the match to three sets, but lost in the tie-breaker at the Rogers Cup Tennis Tournament at the Rexall Centre in Toronto on Wednesday,
August 6, 2014.
Vancouver Canucks Derek Dorsett,
left, fights New Jersey Devils Seth
Helgeson at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on November 25, 2014.
Photo by Ric Ernst/ The Province/
2015 AWARDS EDITION