The latest awards edition of Media magazine, produced by the Canadian Association of Journalists, is the "best ever," says editor David McKie. He gives J-Source a teaser about what readers can expect to see in the issue set to be published next week. 

By David McKie

The robocalls story became a reality after Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher acted on those tips journalists love receving.  And then they kept digging. And digging. And digging.

There are many lessons to be learned in McGregor’s write-up about how they got one of the stories that not only won awards in the three categories that will be featured in Media’s upcoming awards edition, but it’s a story that has forced action: on the part of Elections Canada; advocacy groups concerned about democracy; political parties seeking to use the affair featuring the yet-to-be identified Pierre Poutine to gain an upper hand; and hopefully the federal government.

The robocalls story was truly deserving of the Governor General’s Michener Award, the Canadian Association of Journalists open newspaper award, and the National Newspaper Association’s politics award. 


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One of the key lessons we learn is not only chasing down tips, working sources, reading court documents, but also writing follow-up stories. For it was arguably the cumulative effect of the pieces that this duo wrote that forced their competitors and the politicians to take note, sustain that interest, and then, most importantly, act.  

Far too frequently, journalists ( including yours truly ) are content to tell stories, and then neglect to follow them up. As you’ll see in many of the examples in the upcoming edition, follow-ups and time management are essential ingredients for good journalism.

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Though the robocalls story was a standout, it had plenty of good company.

In fact, there are many excellent examples of stories in the upcoming awards edition that include accounts of the photograph that captured police officers desperately trying to hold on to a fleeing suspect dangling from a highway overpass; the shenanigans of a former Halifax mayor who lined his pockets with money from family friend’s estate; and the pain that former residents of Newfoundland’s Mount Cashel Orphanage are still enduring.

Media magazine’s awards editions are valuable because in addition to being great reads, they represent important historical references in which some of our most gifted and hard-working practitioners explain how they did it, the obstacles they encountered and tips for journalists attempting to tell similar stories.

Hence, there are lessons for everyone: journalism students, working journalists; and even some of the politicians, police and other subjects of these stories.

I’ve still got a bit of tweaking left, but expect to have the latest edition posted to the Canadian Association of Journalists’ within the next week.

In the meantime, here’s one explanation for your learning pleasure, The Ottawa Citizen’s James Bagnall’s explanation of how he ended up telling a story about disgraced high-tech giant Nortel that turned out to be the exact opposite of what he thought it would be. Bagnall won the National Newspaper Award for explanatory work.