Monday, 24 March 2008

Len & NNAs

Len Fortune, the Toronto Sun's photo editor from 1983 to 1986 and 2006/07, responds to Lorrie Goldstein's column on the National Newspaper Awards:

"I agree with Lorrie, somewhat.

There has always been a degree of discrimination by the NNA judges over the years, but in the past, the Toronto Sun - pre Quebecor - was always able to compensate for that slight.

If you examine the photo side, the Sun (pre-Quebecor) actually had a travel budget that increased the potential of nailing down a NNA. The proof:

Veronica Henri's
1983 NNA - CF104 Starfighter in Germany; Stan Behal's 1988 NNA - Ben Johnson at the Seoul Olympics; Fred Thornhill's 1989 NNA - The Cocaine Trail in Bolivia and Craig Robertson's 1990 NNA - AIDS victim in Kenya.

These wins were complemented with Tim McKenna's 1990 NNA from the First Nation dust up in Oka. If the Oka uprising occurred today, a Journal de Montreal photographer would cover it.

In essence, when considering the potential of NNAs, at least from the Toronto Sun photo side, it's a matter of finance and the re-alignment of Sun Media priorities.

And I suspect someone at the Sun will say "rubbish" and note that the Toronto Sun had recently sent a photographer to Afghanistan. To counter that argument, I surmise that the embedded photographer was constrained by the safety-minded Canadian troops, making it impossible to secure award-winning images.

Over the years, I have confronted NNA's coordinator Bryan Cantley about the possibility of discrimination in NNA judging. He has always defended the honesty of the competition. If you know Bryan, then you know that he's a man of integrity.

Considering everything, I am surprised that Greg Henkenhaf's unique angle of a shooting victim was not nominated for Spot News Photography. Was it entered?

The one criteria that often editors forget or don't know: A winning NNA entry has to have the attractiveness to play seamlessly across the country from Stephenwille, Nfld. to Victoria, B.C.

My advice is to try harder, something has to give.

Len Fortune,

Toronto Sun photo editor, 1983-1988 and 2006-2007 and author of From See to See: 50 years of (NNA) Photojournalism and major contributor to Page 1: The Best of the National Newspaper Awards."

No comments:

Post a Comment