1997 NNA Winners and Runners-up
The winners and runners-up for the 1997 National Newspaper Awards follow. The awards were presented on May 2, 1998. What follows is a brief description of the person's entry. To go directly to a category, click on any of the following: The photos and cartoons can be seen in larger format.
The Port Hope Evening Guide showed that a small-town newspaper can—and should—tackle the important events that affect the community. In reporting all aspects of a proposal to close the Port Hope hospital in favour of the one in neighbouring Cobourg, reporters Tracy Huffman, Ian Elliot, and Katherine Sedgwick gave the community the kind of coverage it deserved. These stories show what newspapers are meant to be, a watchdog on a seemingly flawed decision-making process.
The Kingston Whig-Standard's Rob Tripp produced a tough series of articles that followed up on a local bricklayer's news tip about a Kingston union beset by corruption, intimidation and financial impropriety. These kinds of stories in a small community are difficult to do, but Tripp stayed with the story despite repeated threats of lawsuits by union officials. Judges said he combined good reporting and writing to turn a complex issue into a series of easy-to-understand stories.
The Saint John Times Globe's Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon took her readers on a tour of crack houses, of all things, in this unsuspecting New Brunswick city. She provided a thorough, indepth series which showed that as soon as police cut off one of crack's hydra-like heads, another two grew. Crack houses were multiplying at a phenomenal rate. The most telling endorsement of the series was the fact that when MacKinnon later accompanied city police on a crackhouse raid, there on the wall in the almost-empty apartment was a prominently-displayed copy of one of her "Crack Hurts" articles.
Spot News Photography
Bruno Schlumberger of The Ottawa Citizen captures one of those precious moments in eight-year-old Kyla Groves's embrace of her father, Warrant Officer Shawn Groves, after he was decorated for his service in Somalia. This picture has it all—the child's eyes, the medals, the wedding ring, the badge, the stuffed toy—all elements that come together to make a wonderful, touching image from what could have been a routine assignment.
Winnipeg Free Press photographer Ken Gigliotti kept his poise during 15 tense and terrifying minutes for both an 18-month-old toddler clinging to a rooftop's edge two floors above the ground and the efforts of neighbours and firefighters to save the little girl. We all hold our breath, along with Fire Capt. Marcel Lafond, as he reaches from a third-floor window to pull the terror-stricken little girl to safety. Judges said the drama within these photographs could not help but tug at the reader's heartstrings.
The Vancouver Sun's Mark Van Manen was on hand to capture the shock and anguish of the owner of an antique rug shop after he learns from a police officer that one of his empyees had been shot in the head. The hanging rugs in the background and the solemn but compassionate police officer lend context to the emotion within the image. Van Manen produced this emotional photograph under difficult lighting conditions in a very tragic situation—the reader is brought face to face with the horror of a crime.
Serge Chapleau of La Presse in Montreal skewers the high and mighty on their own pretentions, with a delightful sense of fun. Judges described Chapleau as an artist of great versatility, one day engaging us with the slingshot of Parizeau, another day making us think seriously about our society's cult of celebrity by juxtaposing the Algeria massacre with the mourning for Princess Diana. And the paparazzi following former Liberal leader Daniel Johnson is a classic for the times. This is Serge's third straight nomination in this category.
Brian Gable of The Globe and Mail, who has two National Newspaper Awards to his credit, shows why he is one of the country's best cartoonists. His messages jump out of the page, thanks to his flamboyant graphic style and his talent for symbolizing important events. Thus the federal apology to tainted blood victims takes on a deeper meaning when it is delivered to a room full of empty chairs. Ditto for the squawk of a recorded message from an unmanned control tower hovers in the air as the upside-down airliner makes its approach.
Malcolm Mayes of the Edmonton Journal has an eye for how to conceptualize the relationship of people to events, which is his great talent as an editorial cartoonist of the first rank. As a result, former defence minister Doug Young becomes the criminal, gagging the Somalia inquiry as brutally as Clayton Matchee did Shidane Arone. Thus the paparazzi become the only lens in a camera operated by the curious public. And will Edmonton readers ever forget Lucien Bouchard as "Bloc Parent" to Gilles Duceppe? This is Malcolm's first nomination for a National Newspaper Award.
David Macfarlane of The Globe and Mail takes a pointed but humourous stance in his cheeky humour on today's pop culture. He uses the outrage of a true lover of good films in describing David Cronenberg's film, "Crash"; he equates good radio programming with the Howard Stern phenomenon; and he tries to justify why he hates Celine Dion, or at least her commercial success. Macfarlane declines to take anyone—least of all himself—too seriously. Judges said his writing sparkles with precision, irony and devastating insight.
Lloyd Dykk of The Vancouver Sun offers an earthy, saucy commentary on the Vancouver cultural scene that is rooted in the independent spirit of the West, said the judges. Few writers have captured as well the transformation of the Riverdance phenomenon whose number appears to be up in the fame-o-meter, or the descent of the Three Tenors to the Tickle-Me-Elmo league. Lloyd's analysis is consistently witty, audacious and disarmingly perceptive. Lloyd is a winner in this category in 1993.
David Warren of The Ottawa Citizen offers his readers an insightful, exquisitely poetic analysis of art and literature. Whether he is reflecting on the dark, alcohol-induced poems of Malcolm Lowry, or his feelings after waiting two months to go and see the Renoir exhibition, or commenting on the inadequacies of our education system in its regard for the classics, David uses remarkable intellectual breadth and depth, said the judges. For those who celebrate the artistry involved in quality writing, David's thoughtful explorations are sheer joy.
Geoff Baker of the Montreal Gazette went way beyond the playing fields and locker rooms by digging through the hype to show his readers the sad state of affairs in Montreal for the Canadian Football League and its Alouettes. Chapter by chapter, in a dozen stories over a two-month period, Baker exposed the shenanigans surrounding the troubled Alouettes franchise. He reported details of the clashes and conflicts that nearly destroyed the CFL in Montreal and perhaps the entire league along with it.
Stephen Brunt of The Globe and Mail provided superb coverage of one of boxing's all-time great fiascos—the Tyson-Holyfield ear-biting circus in Las Vegas. Brunt's insights into the demons that afflict Mike Tyson were remarkable, said the judges, as was his detailed analysis of the fight itself—a bite-by-bite account of the most bizarre bout in boxing history. In his lead paragraph of that fateful fight, Brunt may have prophetically written the future of boxing: "Scenes from the death of professional boxing."
Roy MacGregor of The Ottawa Citizen crafted the year's best sports profile, according to the judges, when he took a fresh look at one of Canada's most familiar hockey players, Alexander Daigle, an enigmatic and complex young man. Daigle, who came out of junior hockey in 1993 with stardom stamped all over him and a mind-boggling multi-million dollar contract at age 18, has been a bust and is now a Philadelphia Flyer. MacGregor, winner of this award in 1995, talked with friends and family to tell his readers what makes this young man tick.
There were many, many stories in the Winnipeg Free Press's coverage of the great flood. A team of Buzz Currie, Kim Guttormson, Bruce Owen, Gord Sinclair and Bill Redekop captured the essence of the frantic confrontation of mankind's battle with nature in "The Flood", a special section that told what went on behind the headlines. The Free Press tells of sleepless nights, magnificent volunteer effort, civilian courage and military might. It was a sensational read from beginning to end, said the judges.
The Ottawa Citizen's Chris Cobb never forgot an incident 21 years ago when 18-year-old Robert Poulin opened a classroom door at Ottawa's St. Pius X High School and began to spray the assembled students with pellets from a sawed-off shotgun. Three died, including Poulin who committed suicide. Cobb decided to go back and find out what became of the 50 who survived. It took courage for both Cobb and those who chose to be interviewed. In the end, Cobb showed a side of journalism in his piece "The Survivors" that is moving, sensitive and ultimately healing.
Carole Thibaudeau of La Presse in Montreal wrote a feature about a leading edge treatment for brain cancer, a treatment about which few Canadians were even aware that Canada is a world leader in its development. In its simplest terms, the cancerous cells are infected by the herpes gene. By telling the story of a Montreal woman who undergoes such treatment, Thibaudeau provides her readers with easy-to-understand language how such a unique treatment works and why it offers hope to many, many cancer victims in Canada and in the world.
David Chidley of The Calgary Sun managed to bring smiles to newspaper readers around the world with this classic shot of a little guy trying to play with the big boys. While the Calgary Hitmen juniors were scrumming their goaltender, two-year-old Hunter Shinkaruk was on the outside trying to figure out how he could get in on the scrum too. The picture, said the judges, had everything going for it…pathos, humour, and eye-appeal.
Mike Sturk of the Calgary Herald combined classic Alberta landscape with one of earth's rare and spectacular occurences, Comet Hale-Bopp's visit coinciding with the aurora borealis, commonly-known as northern lights. Sturk cleverly used the grain elevators in Carstair to frame the plunging light of the comet as the northern lights coloured the sky above.
Andrew Wallace of the Moncton Times & Transcript made the best of yet another New Brunswick blizzard (and there were many last winter) by taking an almost surreal, sketch-like photo of wind-blown snow swirling through Victorian-era lamps and Christmas decorations of Moncton's main street. Wallace, now freelancing, did what all good photographers must do…make the best of an uncomfortable situation.
John Stackhouse of The Globe and Mail set about to tell his readers where India and Pakistan were after reaching their 50th birthdays. Travelling by train from Calcutta to Karachi, Stackhouse presents a rich diverse portrait of these two neighbouring countries at critical points in their young histories. His stories included a feature about a train journey across many lands, a moving portrait of Stackhouse's adopted village and a profile of Pakistan's most feared terrorist group. Judges said readers were left with not only an appreciation of the complexity of the issues in India and Pakistan but some hope for solutions.
Mike Shahin of The Ottawa Citizen spent a month in Zimbabwe examining what the eternal quest for gold means in real peoples' lives. He "lived" the story, as much as was possible for a white outsider in a black culture. He hitchhiked for rides. He took "African" buses that only blacks rode. He studiously avoided contact with politicians, big business interests and professional spin-doctors. The 25,000-word narrative, documentary report reads like a novel and leaves readers with a compelling taste of gold dust in their mouths.
Leonard Stern of The Ottawa Citizen presents a thoughtful article on The Hague International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the first international court to confront war crimes since the Nuremburg and Tokyo trials of 1946. Blended with the personal, philosophical and political analysis, Stern provides an incisive look at an institution you may have heard about but probably don't really know much about. It is a court process like no other as it seeks to expose the most depraved acts of barbarism that human beings can commit upon one another.
Andrew Vaughan of the Canadian Press saw many teams celebrate wins at the world canoe and kayak championships in Nova Scotia last summer. But the shot of the winning Belarus team went further than most, giving the viewer a feeling of symmetry that one gets when something is half-hidden at the side of a mirror…paddles left-right, arms left-right, heads left-right. The Calgary Herald ran the photo with a caption, "1,000 words worth."
Colin Corneau of The Brandon Sun made the most of his hometown assignment covering the Canada Summer Games. Thanks to great positioning, Corneau was in the right spot to grab a photo of Yoseline Leunens of Quebec going for a disastrous pratfall in her 100-metre final heat in the heptathlon. That's Manitoba's Melanie Gregg soaring over her to move ahead. Judges called it a terrific example of the "agony of defeat" on one hand and the "taste of victory" on the other.
John Major of The Ottawa Citizen was also sent to the Canada Summer Games in Brandon. Like all good photographers, he looked for a way to capture the essence of competition--speed, blurriness, confusion and images--to give newspaper readers a true sense of a bicycle race. With little time to prepare and think, Major was able to isolate on Alberta's Vanessa Corbin, number 26, as she races through a corner. These types of photos fail more often than succeed. This succeeded…big time.
Josh Freed of the Montreal Gazette uses the difficult art of humour and his warm, mellow brand of satire to dissect Canada's idiosyncracies, such as Mbanx's virtual banking system, the reopening of Freed's favourite news stand, Le Stand, and Quebec's biker wars. Judges said his use of language is impressive, and even his most off-the-wall commentaries somehow manage to show respect for the reader as well as the subject. Freed is a past winner of the Stephen Leacock award for humour.
Russell Wangersky of The Evening Telegram in St. John's chronicled the sad saga of South Brook, a formerly vibrant tributary that has been ruined by cow manure. Judges said Wangersky presents his case flawlessly, forcing the reader to confront an issue without flinching. When he takes the reader by the hand and escorts him along South Brook, just steps from the door of the Newfoundland government, the journey becomes an unforgettable journey. Writing as powerful as this can be an effective tool for change.
Hugh Winsor is a veteran Globe and Mail columnist who has spent two decades commenting on national politics. His well-researched pieces on such subjects as misuse of manipulative public opinion polls and flagrant, destructive patronage appointments give Globe readers unique insight into the machinations of Ottawa politics. Here is a columnist who uses his myriad contacts at all levels of government to shed light on the 90% of government that takes place behind closed doors.
Moira Welsh and Kevin Donovan of The Toronto Star investigated Ontario's child welfare system for a series called "Cry for the Children." Donovan and Welsh spent seven months on the project, creating three databases just for this one project. Judges said the series was emotionally powerful, moving the reader from tears to anger to a sense of resolve that more must be done to protect children. After the stories were published, the Ontario government announced several measures to improve child protection.
The Montreal Gazette's crack investigative duo of William Marsden and Rod Macdonell spent four months documenting a huge toxic soil dump site in suburban LaSalle. Judges said their story is a fascinating and disturbing account of how the dump came into existence without residents' knowledge or approval. It raises questions about connections to politics and organized crime. To say the series aroused the citizens' interest would be an understatement.
Lisa Priest of The Toronto Star made effective use of a one-year Atkinson Fellowship to produce an indepth, groundbreaking study of Ontario hospitals and Canadian doctors' billing practices and standards. Judges praised Priest's original research into the issues, including a rating of Ontario's hospitals. They said she put the issue into context with comparisons to other closely-monitored professions and to other countries, where accountability is more public.
The Globe and Mail's team of John Stackhouse, Paul Waldie and Janet McFarland were onto the Bre-X gold mining fraud from the first hint that the company's claims might be worthless. Well before the fraud was officially documented, the Globe team revealed the checkered history of the promoters and geologists involved. Working on a tight deadline and without any cooperation from Bre-X, the reporters tracked down dozens of the miners' friends, coworkers and cronies scattered throughout Indonesia, Australia, Canada and Britain. They produced a compelling and dramatic narrative that revealed this group of promoters had done it all before.
The Calgary Herald's business team of Stephen Ewart and Sean Gordon went after the hard-to-get interviews in the Bre-X scandal, much of which was played out in the Herald's own backyard. They managed to get beleaguered David Walsh, Bre-X's beleaguered executive chief, to agree to talk with them. It was the first time in a year that Walsh had spoken publicly. Through a dogged pursuit of their sources, they also broke an exclusive story about the contents of a suicide note left by chief Bre-X geologist Michael de Gusman. Judges praised the first-rate reporting by a well-prepared and aggressive staff.
The Ottawa Citizen's Paul McKay followed up on whereabouts of Clifford Frame, the developer of the ill-fated Westray coal mine in Nova Scotia. Through dogged research and investigative reporting, McKay discovered that Frame had not abandoned the mining business at all. Instead, he was involved in a controversial and court-challenged take-over scheme of a West Virginia coal property at the same time he was fighting efforts to force him to testify at a public inquiry into the Westray explosion.
Layout and Graphical Design
Gayle Grin of The Gazette in Montreal mixes art and design to present fashion pages in a way that allows a lifeless garment to take on a life of its own. Judges said Grin's use of colour is carefully choreographed to take centre stage but never steals the show. One example, Warm & Cozy, which was held to just black and blue colours, struck the judges as an artistic fun way of showing maternity clothes. Another, Reading Fashion, shows initiative and determination to achieve the desired effect.
The team of Dean Tweed and Gayle Grin of the Montreal Gazette are the architects of the Montreal Gazette's magazine section in its Sunday edition. Judges were drawn to a straight-forward honesty about the pages. The use of symmetry helps anchor and lighten up large masses of type, while the display typography and visuals complement rather than overpower the story. Along with design that does not call attention to itself but rather draws the reader in, readers are given a sense that they are going to get a very good read indeed.
Jo-Ann Dodds of The Toronto Star is a designer for the newspaper's highly-acclaimed What's On entertainment fronts. Judges praised Dodds for her skillfully arranged collages, particularly on the page "Blood on the fields." Here Dodds combines historic photos and poster with the contemporary portrait of Wynton Marsalis. The juxtaposition of multiple layers of visuals and typography offer compelling, intricate images frozen in time.
The staff at the Windsor Star was troubled by provincial statistics that showed Windsor and Essex counties with the highest percentage of complex child welfare and family breakdown cases in Ontario. "Our Troubled Children" probed deeply for reasons why Windsor area children were more stressed, depressed and at risk than those in other areas. The project featured superb explanatory journalism, on such diverse topics as the emotional growth of infants, how social assistance works, and on individual and family problems. Judges said the stories were readable and sometimes quite gripping. It was an entire package, including help lines, and it got action in the end.
The Ottawa Citizen spent months exploring the wilds of Gatineau Park to present "Wild At Heart", an exquisite combination of outstanding wildlife photojournalism and writing that judges said verged on literature. The project, which drew upon as many as 10 writers, editors, designers and historians to complete, combined a historical perspective with what people may find today beyond the usual well-worn paths. "Wild At Heart" captivated local interest…the weekend after publication, so many visitors flocked to Gatineau Park that the staff was forced to close its doors.
Sherbrooke La Tribune's managing editor Stephane Lavallee orchestrated an enormous…and ambitious…look at society on the verge of the millenium. Its 76-page edition, "A 1,000 jours de l'an 2000"—the culmination of a three-month assignment--features more than 150 interviews by some 25 journalists with leading figures in almost every realm, from science to business, from the arts to health care. The project drew deeply on its local roots, yet managed to speak to a broader and national audience. And readers loved it…La Tribune sold 48,000 copies on that Saturday, 5,000 more than usual.
Carol Goar of The Toronto Star distills a wealth of research and reflection into concise, limpid prose. Two of her editorials provide a strong view of the issues of increased poverty, hunger, and homelessness amid the widening gap between the rich and poor. An editorial on Howard Stern offers suggestions, both for the regulatory agencies and the public. Finally, an editorial on truant Senator Andrew Thompson suggests what to do with politicians who abuse the public trust. Readers of her work are enriched by her factual knowledge and challenged to think about the betterment of the community.
Murdoch Davis, the Edmonton Journal's editor-in-chief, frequently lends his voice to the Journal's editorial pages. Davis shows the breadth and depth of his knowledge and interest for his editorials that range from the light-hearted but irresistible solutions to NHL realignment and unrelenting and thoroughly devastating attacks on two-tier health care and video lottery terminals. Judges found his editorials to be characterized by a vigorous voice, a sardonic eye and an unfailing ability to get to the essentials of an issue.
Linda Williamson of The Toronto Sun leaves a reader with no doubt about where she stands. Two of her editorials deal with Ontario's labour strife, one of the province's top stories of 1997, while another mocks Jean Chretien and his reluctance to go back on a vow never to use a specially-fitted prime ministerial jet purchased by former PM Mulroney. In a few short words, she sees the context, goes to the heart of complicated issues and extracts a core point which she addresses with a mixture of humanity and blunt commonsense.
Spot News Reporting
The Thanksgiving Day bus tragedy that took 44 lives at St-Joseph-de-la-Rive mobilized a normally quiet holiday newsroom at Quebec City's Le Soleil. Shortly after the 2 p.m. crash, three Le Soleil reporters were on the scene 100 kilometres away. Two more were sent to St-Bernard-de-Beauce, the village where most of the victims had resided and another was dispatched to the hospital. Judges said the reporting was outstanding, giving readers a sense of being on the scene. It was, said the judges, superb, exhaustive, wide-ranging and well-written coverage of an unexpected event.
When the bus transporting holidaying senior citizens crashed into a ravine near Quebec City, the Montreal and Quebec City bureaus of the Canadian Press rolled into action. Facing deadlines almost every minute, editors and reporters worked furiously to pump out information to satisfy newspaper and broadcast outlets around the world with breaking news of the tragedy. Judges said CP combined superb writing from the scene with a complete facts package: a list of previous road accidents, quotes and a summary of the event.
The Winnipeg Free Press had a front row seat to the Flood of the Century. It used that vantage point to perfection, providing readers with a thorough and unmatched perspective on the approaching flood itself and the province's agony as it waited for disaster to strike. For residents panicked by the flood's perceived perils, the Free Press gave explanations of the causes, ramifications, damage, of health and other concerns—all with the readers in mind. Judges said the coverage was uniformly excellent, wide-ranging, and extremely readable.