Lise Bissonnette, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis and the editors of Toronto Star and Metroland Durham
Region were among the award winners and honorees at the Canadian
Journalism Foundation (CJF) 13th Annual Awards Gala who took the
opportunity to comment on the state of journalism and its future during a
gala dinner at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto.
The Toronto Star won the Excellence in Journalism Award in the large or
national media category, sponsored by the Jackman Foundation and the
Canadian Journalism Foundation. He said that when it comes to journalism, nothing can replace the real thing, saying citizen journalists are “as Karaoke is to Frank Sinatra live and in person.” He continued: “Editors, publishers and even owners are
only as good as their reporters, and this country has some great
reporters — I’d like to say mostly at the Toronto Star, but also at The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, and the Sun papers,” said Michael Cooke,
editor of the Toronto Star,
during his acceptance speech. “It’s the journalism of pursuit, the
journalism of energy. We’re blessed to be working with this kind of
competition. It keeps us fit, and keeps us honest. But we need to back
our reporters up with good salaries, and benefits, and legal
protection…and not look so closely at their expense accounts.”
Metroland Durham Region won the Excellence in Journalism Award in the
small, medium or local market category. The newspaper’s submission both
wowed and educated the jury since several of its members were unfamiliar
with the publication. Joanne Burghardt, editor-in-chief of Metroland
Durham Region publications, accepted the award on behalf of her staff.
“Anyone who runs a newsroom should enter in the morning and just listen.
If you hear your staff laughing, chatting or discussing their kid’s
soccer game, you have the ingredients for great journalism,” she said.
“If there’s silence, you know there’s a problem: there’s no community,
an important part of a solid newsroom. It’s important to remember that
great journalism happens in even the smallest newsrooms.”
The Greg Clark Award, sponsored by CTV and the Toronto Star, went to Arielle Godbout, a reporter with
the Winnipeg Free Press.
Godbout broke a story about a football scholarship student in North
Dakota caught smuggling 22 guns into his hometown of Winnipeg. When
local authorities rebuffed her efforts to track the guns, the story
stalled. This award will enable Godbout to pick up where she left off —
she will travel to Ottawa to conduct off-the-record interviews with
national weapons enforcement specialists to gain a better understanding
of the issues surrounding gun smuggling.
The Canadian Journalism Fellowships for a year of post-secondary study
are awarded annually by Massey College in the University of Toronto.
Elizabeth Church, who covers post-secondary education for The Globe and Mail, was awarded the
inaugural Kierans Janigan Fellowship, funded through the generosity of
former CJF chair Tom Kierans and his wife Mary Janigan in honour of one
of Canada’s greatest arts journalists, the late Val Ross of The Globe
and Mail. Susan Mahoney, a Toronto-based producer with CBC Radio
for 26 years, received the CBC/Radio-Canada Fellowship. Hugo Rodrigues,
a reporter at the Sentinel-Review in Woodstock, Ontario, is the Gordon
N. Fisher fellow, named after the late Gordon N. Fisher who, along with
the late St. Clair Balfour of Southam Newspapers, created these
fellowships in 1962. The Webster/McConnell Fellowship, named after two
Montreal foundations, was awarded to Jeff Warren, a Toronto-based
freelance broadcaster, writer and public speaker.
The Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy, worth up to $100,000, is
sponsored by the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, the Toronto Star and the Honderich
family. The grant provides for a Canadian journalist to undertake a
year-long research project on a topical public policy issue. The
recipient of the fellowship this year is Ann Dowsett Johnston, a
freelancer and five-time National Magazine Award winner. For her
fellowship, she will take a hard look at a growing phenomenon: While
women now outstrip their male peers in post-secondary achievement and
match male participation in the workplace, they are also closing the gap
in alcohol consumption.
As previously announced, one of the evening’s highlights was the
presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Lise Bissonnette.
Bissonnette began her journalistic career in 1974 at Montreal’s daily
newspaper Le Devoir, where she held various positions before ultimately
becoming editor-in-chief from 1990 to 1998. In 1998, she was appointed
president and general director of the Bibliothèque et Archives
nationales du Québec, a position she held until her retirement in June
2009. “I’m not nostalgic — the past is not something a woman can long
for,” Bissonette said. “But I feel sorry for young journalists who never
saw the era I enjoyed as a journalist. But there is hope. The present
economic crisis is a stark result of greed, which gives young
journalists an opening to reclaim moral ground for reporting and
investigating more important stories, like education, health care, and
yes, even constitutional issues.”
Research In Motion co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis were
acknowledged during a special Canadian Journalism Foundation tribute at
this year’s gala for their contribution in revolutionizing the
technology of modern journalism. Lazaridis accepted the award on behalf
of his partner and himself. As a young entrepreneur, he was told often
that he wouldn’t succeed, but did anyway. “As journalists, you play an
incredible role by bringing the triumphs and challenges of entrepreneurs
to light, which helps them but also encourages others to follow in
their footsteps. This will keep going and going as long as we encourage
them, champion them and celebrate them.”
More photos and videos at the CJF gala page.