OTTAWA, June 14, 2011 /CNW/ - The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's
investigative program the fifth estate has won the 2010 Michener Award for its reporting on the incarceration
and death of Ashley Smith, a seriously troubled teenager who spent the
last four years of her life behind bars for a minor offence, Russell
Mills, President of the Michener Awards Foundation, announced today.
In a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, His Excellency the Right
Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, presented the
Michener Award trophy to Jim Wlliamson, Executive Producer of the fifth estate. The broadcaster was among six news organizations honored at the
ceremony. The Michener Award is presented annually for journalism that
makes a significant impact on the public good.
The fifth estate persisted against bureaucratic stonewalling and waged a successful
court battle to obtain shocking video of Smith's final hours recorded
by the Correctional Service of Canada. Following the fifth estate broadcasts "Out of Control" and "Behind the Wall" the scope of the inquest into Smith's death was widened. As well, court
exhibits are more public, resulting in a more open and transparent
judicial system. Journalists and the public now have another tool to
hold government, public officials, other organizations and individuals
accountable for their actions.
The Governor General also presented the 2011 Michener-Deacon Fellowship
to Jane Armstrong, a Toronto freelance writer who will examine the
impact of Canada's aid programs in Afghanistan over the past decade and
explore the future of those projects when Canada's military role winds
down this summer.
Michener Citations of Merit were presented to:
The Calgary Herald
The series Worked to Death exposes the human costs of Alberta's economic boom - sloppy on-site
safety practices and lax enforcement leading to a disturbing number of
annual workplace deaths. After this in-depth series was published the
Alberta government took more aggressive measures including the creation
of an online database listing safety violations, more work-site safety
blitzes, and a promise to hire more safety inspectors. It also is
pursuing companies that don't pay their fines.
The Eastern Door
The sustained reporting of the decision of the Mohawk Council of
Kahnawke to send eviction letters to non-Natives living on the reserve
put names and faces to the evictions and sparked a public discussion in
this close-knit community into what The Eastern Door called a "human rights story". The courageous involvement of the
community paper has contributed to a change in direction of the
execution of a decision by the Mohawk Council to evict non-Native
residents living on the reserve.
The Hamilton Spectator
The Code Red series combine journalistic and academic expertise to
examine, diagnose and propose remedies for poverty in Hamilton. Code
Red provided hard data for government and agencies to address problems
of poverty and health, mobilized other agencies to help people in need
and became a key issue in the municipal election. The series has
received international attention and has been integrated into the
curriculum of a number of university courses.
La Société Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada through news coverage and television program Découverte explores the pitfalls of rushing into of shale gas exploration and
exploitation and the effects on the everyday life of the people in the
Saint Lawrence Valley of Quebec. The thorough coverage put the spotlight on an important public issue and
helped to promote a wide-scale public debate that lead to a government
inquiry and the Quebec government tightening its control on the
industry and adopting stricter conditions for new drilling.
The Vancouver Sun
The six-part series looks at inadequate safety standards following a
series of fatal float-plane accidents in British Columbia. The stories
detailed inexpensive safety improvements that could save lives.
Reaction from the federal government was immediate and significant with
the introduction of new safety measures including strengthening
investigation and enforcement and the formation of a new industry
association to address safety and other issues.
SOURCE Michener Awards Foundation
For further information:
The Michener Awards Foundation
(613) 727-4723, Ext. 5179
Rideau Hall Press Office
Christelle Legault (613) 998-7280