Monday, 16 May 2011

Intell re NNAs

Worth repeating is this opinion piece by Chris Malette, city editor at Sun Media's Belleville Intelligencer, a runner-up in Friday's National Newspaper Awards for coverage of the Russell Williams crime spree.

Chris writes: In the end, no one won a news award for coverage of one of the most heinous series of crimes in recent Canadian history.

The Intelligencer joined a list of newspapers to leave the National Newspapers Awards in Ottawa last Friday with runners-up honours for reportage of the Russell Williams crime spree. The Intelligencer team of W. Brice McVicar, Luke Hendry, Jason Miller and Chris Malette were in the running for an NNA for coverage of the Williams crimes, trial and conviction in 2010. So too were teams from The Toronto Star and The Globe & Mail.

None of us made it to the stage at the gala ceremony at the Canadian War Museum.

And perhaps, to some, that's fitting. It's a crushing disappointment to those of us who looked forward to winning the pinnacle of news awards for newspapers in Canada, of course,

While The Intell's team doggedly reported the stunningly horrific crimes of the former commander of CFB Trenton, doing so as so many newsrooms across the country have done  -  soldiered on with fewer of us doing the lifting - one gets the nagging feeling no one should achieve glory in any way associated with the deeds of such an animal as Williams.

Certainly, some of our readers expressed those exact sentiments in reaction to earlier announcements that the Intell team had been nominated for the NNA and the Ontario Newspaper Awards three weeks ago in Kitchener. We were runner-up there, as well.

For The Intelligencer team, it is only the third time in the 62 years of the NNAs that The Intell has been nominated for awards. In the past, photographer Frank O'Connor and writer Derek Baldwin, both now gone from The Intell, also took home finalist honours but not the big prize.

But, while some may wonder why journalists take pride in chronicling the gruesome stories of such a disgusting display of inhumanity, we look to this news prize as following in the footsteps of those who have been honoured for shining a light on corruption, exploring the human condition in words and pictures, covering wars and even the joyous moments of life in Canada as exemplified in the feature photography award Brandon Sun photographer Tim Smith, a smile-bringing image of young Hutterite kids playing atop a stack of hay bales as a rainbow breaks over their heads.

So, we thank you, our readers, in sharing our stories of the year from hell for many of us, but we are justifiably proud of the work our small but mighty band of young journalists have done.

In the words of the judges on The Intelligencer's work in the Williams coverage: "The Intelligencer's total newsroom coverage resulted in ground-breaking stories for a local newspaper in the face of massive big-city reporting."

As city editor, I'd take McVicar, Miller and Hendry over a newsroom full of high-priced metro daily reporters. 
And, finally, for the victims of Williams' unspeakable crimes and the families of those victims, we have not for one moment forgotten your suffering, strength and dignity while we chronicled the acts of the perpetrator of those crimes that have forever changed your lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment