Michener Honours go to CBC'S the fifth estate, and freelancer Jane Armstrong

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
Russell Mills
(613) 727-4723, Ext. 5179
Email: mills@algonquincollege.com

Rideau Hall Press Office
Christelle Legault (613) 998-7280
Email: christelle.legault@gg.ca

Web sites:
www.michenerawards.ca
www.prixmichener.ca 
www.gg.ca


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