Discourse Media's Erin Millar, co-founder and CEO, and Debbie Douez, business development consultant, accepted the award on behalf of the Vancouver media company. Watch the acceptance speech.

Discourse Media wins 2016 CJF Innovation Award

Discourse Media, an upstart Vancouver-based independent media company, is the winner of the CJF Innovation Award. The award, now in its second year, recognizes creative new measures that advance the quality of journalism. The award was created to acknowledge the unprecedented challenges—and demands for change—faced by news organizations.

Discourse Media produces in-depth journalism about complex issues using collaborative approaches. During last year's transportation funding referendum in Metro Vancouver—when journalists had little access to usable data and the public had little context about the issue itself—Discourse Media obtained, analyzed and produced data to share among multiple newsrooms, resulting in its "Moving Forward" project. In one instance, Discourse partnered with academics to access datasets, such as that used in the Cost of Commute Calculator, which allowed users to punch in their commute and see a breakdown of the full cost to themselves and to society.

The finalists for the award were:

CBC North
For the 2015 N.W.T. general election, CBC North hosted a series of real-time, online election forums on its website, giving voters a chance to hear from all their candidates—many of whom were initially reluctant to participate—in a single place. The forums drew a strong response from isolated communities such as the sparsely populated riding of Nunakput, spanning four fly-in communities in the High Arctic. "#NWTVotes: CBC North's series of online candidates forums"

The Globe and Mail
To enhance digital storytelling, The Globe and Mail created a series of proprietary, easy-to-use tools, particularly on mobile. Among their creations: an enriched article tool for creating immersive multimedia features and a tool for generating instant interactive charts from any spreadsheet. The Globe's customized publishing tools for features, charts and other multimedia were represented in: "The Migrant Crisis: Here's Why It's Not What You Think" (long-form journalism) and "The Hike Is Here" (explanatory journalism).

The CJF Innovation Award winner was announced at the annual CJF Awards at The Fairmont Royal York on June 16 in Toronto.

About the CJF Innovation Award

At a time when news organizations are facing unprecedented challenges and demands for change, this award recognizes innovations that have a demonstrated impact in advancing the quality of journalism done by an individual news organization.


Innovation can come in a wide range of fields, including (but not restricted to):
•    new formats for audiences;
•    different operating procedures within a newsroom;
•    new storytelling techniques;
•    a new product produced by the newsroom; 
•    the design and/or introduction of new technology;
•    distinctive reporting strategies and techniques;
•    new ways of engagement with audiences;
•    involvement of the community in the news process; and
•    partnerships or team approaches to reporting and producing stories.

It is up to individual applicants to identify and explain the innovation being nominated. While it could have taken more than a year from concept to implementation, the impact of the innovation must have occurred in 2015.

Each applicant should address the following issues (responses to each issue should be no more than 150 words). Adjudication will consider all these criteria with judges having a particular interest in innovations that help the news organization promote accuracy, social responsibility and accountability.

1. A description of the origin of the innovation, including initial rationale for proceeding, the problem to be solved or the theory to be tested and anticipated results at the time the innovation was proposed
2. How was it proposed/conceived, how much debate was there within the organization before acceptance, who approved it and how did the organization reach the final decision to proceed with the innovation?
3. Time frame from the idea stage to implementation, identifying the parts of the organization that were involved in the process from start to finish, as well as the number of people involved and number and stages of approval from conception to implementation.
4. An explanation of how the organization assessed both the impact and the success of the innovation including whether the anticipated benefits actually occurred and if not, why not.
5. How the innovation has improved the quality of the organization’s journalism.

Please contact CJF executive director Natalie Turvey should you have any questions.


2015 - Emergent
Emergent tackled the challenge of assessing the huge volume of social media information by checking the veracity of emerging stories, rumours and viral claims