Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Sandford & NNAs

Bill Sandford, former Toronto Sun photographer and the first Sun photog to win a National Newspaper Award, sounds off on Lorrie Goldstein's NNA column.

"Regarding Lorrie Goldstein's remarks on why the Sun has stopped winning National News Awards, he is right about one thing - no one outside the business gives a rat's ass.

As the first Sun photographer to win an NNA for a news photo, the only reason I can put forward for its fame is because the incident affected thousands of people in the GTA. I speak about the photo of the Mississauga derailment and the ensuing evacuation of the city.

If it hadn't been for that, not too many of the general public would have taken much notice.

In subsequent submissions to the NNAs, I've never won another one, despite the fact that my photos were unique, unposed, slices of life. No sense bitching that it's politics, because no one will be able to prove it, and no one involved in the process will agree.

I have cringed over the years when I see what was nominated, and what has won the various awards, wondering what the judges could possibly be thinking. Until the award categories were expanded, what should have been a feature shot could end up as a winner in the news category!

Papers like the Globe and the Star actually work on projects that are geared to do well in the NNAs. To my mind, it's rare when a news story, or series of stories, were "unplanned" and winners.

I was involved in breaking one of the biggest stories in Canada, the Walkerton water crisis, working with the reporter who first wrote about it. Once it became obvious it had far reaching repercussions, the Star freelance reporter and I were replaced by a team of "talent" from 1 Yonge St. The initial stories done by this reporter were submitted by the Star, and although nominated, never won. How can that be!

Someone brought up the Dunlop Awards, whereby Sun staffers shut out of the NNA gold, could still have their good work recognized internally. Again, over the years, I submitted something every year and never once won an award. Are we to blame the judging in that contest? Was politics at play when the same people won every year? Who can say.

All one can do is keep trying."

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