Rookie reporter tale wins humour prize

The author of a memoir recounting the trials and tribulations of a first-time reporter in small town B.C. has won the 2009 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.

Mark Leiren-Young wrote Never Shoot a Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo, about his first job as a reporter in Williams Lake, B.C.

The Leacock Association said in its news release about the award:

“Not only does the author recount his encounters with the police, loggers, the fire department, fellow workers and yes – beauty contest aspirants for the local rodeo – but he tells his story with both humour and compassion. As his readers will find out, it is a wonderfully amusing story.

Leiren-Young, a Vancouver-based playwright, filmmaker and writer, recieves a $15,000 prize for the TD Bank Financial Group-sponsored award.

In a J-Source review of the book, Vancouver journalist Shannon Rupp wrote:

“Never Shoot a Stampede Queen also reveals one of the great secrets of journalism – some of the best stories are found in community reporting…

Perhaps that’s the real reason this book ought to be standard issue for J-students? The young Leiren-Young’s love of chasing a story is palpable and it illustrates something you can’t teach in a classroom: there’s no point in becoming a reporter unless you get a buzz off  the work itself. There are better ways to make money, and less stressful ways to live.  But for junkies, nothing beats those mornings when an enthusiastic editor greets you with, ‘There’s been a murder!’