Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Dunlop Awards

Are the days of the annual in-house Edward A. Dunlop Awards of Excellence numbered?

The Dunlop judges are now sifting through the 2006 entries from all Sun Media newspapers, with the winners to be announced in the next month or so.

TSF has been told entries from staffers who have since left Sun Media will be considered for the 2006 awards. That would be the gentlemanly thing to do, but time will tell.

The odds of winning a Dunlop certainly favour survivors of the wide-scale Sun Media/Quebecor newsroom staff cuts at all of the papers. Quite a few talented staffers and previous Dunlop winners have left Sun Media in the past few years.

So the pickings are thinner than ever for judges looking for worthy submissions.

Sun vets remember the grand old days of the Dunlops, first awarded in 1985 in the name of the Toronto Sun's first president, who died from cancer at 61 in 1981.

Once upon a pre-Quebecor time, the annual awards night was a black tie affair held at the posh Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto and considered by winners as the Sun party of the year.

Winners from sister newspapers were flown to Toronto for the awards night and winners who did not have a tux or evening gown for the awards, were reimbursed for the cost of a rental.

Winners received a $2,500 travel voucher, $1,000 in cash, two weeks paid vacations, framed certificates, videos and souvenir awards programs.

Winners of the first awards for 1984 were: Jeanie MacFarlane - Feature Writing; John Robertson - Columns; John Geiger - Spot News; Gorm Larson - Spot News, Photo; Fred Thornhill - Feature Photo.

The list of winners and recipients of honorable mentions grew over the years, with new categories being added and more entries arriving from sister papers.

The biggest winner in our books was Doug Creighton, who launched the Dunlops to upstage the National Newspaper Awards. He knew how to say thanks to the writers, photographers and editors who excelled in all Sun departments year after year.

The Dunlops are one of the few remaining links to the Sun of old. The Sutton Hotel awards nights are long gone, as are most of the other frills.

It would be a shame to see the Dunlops deep-sixed after 23 years, but you need ample staff to legitimize the competition.

If the days of the Dunlops are numbered, just add them to the list of casualties of Quebecor's centralization plan.

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