You’ve cast your votes and chosen the 2008 Canadian Newsperson of the Year.
With 1479 votes tallied, Ken Whyte emerged as the clear winner with 59.9 per cent
of the vote.
Watch for an exclusive interview with Ken Whyte next week on J-Source.
Here are the results:
How it worked
As 2008 came to a close, J-Source asked you to
send us your nominations for Canada’s Newsperson of the Year. You responded, and the 20 people nominated came from broadcast, online and
print, hailed from both east and west, were both men and women and had covered everything from important local issues to important
international stories and everything in between.
From that impressive list, we selected, with some difficulty, the
following six finalists:
While many applauded the idea of a local, independent online news source, few figured it would last. But The Tyee, founded by David
Beersin 2003, just celebrated its fifth year of publishing in Vancouver. As heads of news organizations across the country struggle
with the shift online, Beers is well ahead of the curve. The Tyee’s mission is to “swim
upstream against the media trends of our day” and publish “investigative reporting no one else is doing.” Five years in, the new media
brainchild of Beers breaks stories, provides solid coverage of local issues and awards two annual fellowships to fund investigative journalism in the province.
Bernard Derome was French Canada’s highest profile television news person from 1970-1998, as
anchor of Radio-Canada’s flagship newscast Le
Téléjournal. He took a brief break (1998-2004), but Rad-Can called him back to the lead chair for a few more years.
Derome read his last Le Téléjournal newscast on Dec. 18 soon after anchoring the Quebec
provincial contest, his 21st election. In his twenty-plus years on the job, he’s been on air for major political events such as the
October Crisis, the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords and elections, including the first of the Parti Québécois. On his last
night on air, the news broadcast was cut short and a one-hour special Bonsoir Bernard Derome was aired.
National pollster Allan Gregg has called Chantal Hébert “the most influential journalist in the press gallery right now.” CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge says she is
the “lynchpin” of The National’s weekly political panel, At Issue. One J-Source reader nomination called her work “consistently
Devoir, blogger for L’actualité and a regular panelist on CBC and Radio-Canada, Chantal Hébert makes her mark on national news in
both official languages.
Stephanie Nolen brought Africa to Canadians during her five years as The Globe and Mail’s Africa
correspondent. One J-Source reader nomination called Nolen’s work “astounding” and said “often these stories have been agonizing,
always they have been important.” She left the “place she’s come to love”
in December 2008, to open a new bureau for the Globe in New Delhi, India, just in time to cover the
Mumbai bombings. One Globe reader wrote to the editor: “Her reports
have given us a deeper understanding of African complexities. Mostly, she has opened our hearts to the realization that it will succeed on the
true moral strength and beauty of its people.”
Graeme Smith has been reporting for The Globe and Mail from
Kandahar, Afghanistan since 2006. One J-Source reader characterized Smith’s
year.” The series took an innovative, multimedia approach to understanding the Taliban through anonymous video interviews with
insurgents—conducted by a local colleague—interspersed with Smith’s commentary and reporting. Smith has appeared on CTV
television news reports and answered reader
questions about Afghanistan in Globe online forums. His all-encompassing approach to news coverage
gives Canadians a better understanding of this difficult and controversial mission.
With the world’s newsweeklies among the most endangered of print species, Ken Whyte’s
revitalized Maclean’s magazine gives
Canadians talking points week after week. Whyte takes more risks and provokes more bile than any ever expected of this grand national
institution, but it’s clear the editor-publisher’s chief leaning is against the dull. Between weathering the economic storm and battling two Human Rights Commission complaints, Whyte found time
this year to pen a tome about the early career of another era’s controversial newsperson, The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of William Randolph
In the interests of full disclosure, here's how we arrived at our short list.
The nominees for the Newsperson of the Year were (in alphabetical order): David Beers, Harvey Cashore, Henry Champ, John Cruickshank, Bernard Derome, Sarah Fulford, Melissa Fung, Edward Greenspon, Chantal Hébert, Ezra Levant, Rafe Mair, Don Newman, Stephanie Nolen, Susan Ormiston, Anna Maria Tremonti, Justice Robert J. Sharpe, Mark Steyn, Steve Murphy, Graeme Smith, Ken Whyte and Tom Zytaruk. Those on the list represent virtually every aspect of journalism and come from both the front lines and the head office. In some cases, they were explicitly or presumably nominated not for their journalistic work but because of actions they took or actions that had an impact upon them. John Cruickshank is a good example of the former. His decisions at the CBC, on a column by Heather Mallick and on the coverage (or non-coverage) of the Mellissa Fung abduction, pushed him into the media spotlight. In the second category is, of course, Fung herself, whose abduction and safe release made headlines (eventually) around the world. Similarly, Ezra Levant, the former publisher of the Western Standard magazine, was the object of much coverage and many YouTube hits because of his unapologetic defence, before the Alberta Human Rights Commission, for republishing controversial cartoons. We discussed these nominations at length. Clearly we had not asked J-Source readers to select people who made it into the news this year (Stephen Harper? Julie Couillard?), but these particular nominations were tricky because these people were journalists who had become news. In the end, we decided to focus on finding, in the words of J-Source Editor-in-Chief Ivor Shapiro, "journalists whose exceptional work helped Canadians better understand their country or their world in 2008."
Even then, deciding on six finalists was far from easy, and J-Source readers
made the last, toughest choice. The poll is now closed. You can view
a map of the final results here.
Interactive Editor, J-Source
(Note: all reader comments on the contest have been compiled below)