CAJ AWARDS

The Canadian Association of Journalists is pleased to announce the winners of its annual awards for outstanding investigative journalism in Canada published or broadcast in 2016. Check out the full list of winners!

We also handed out the Code of Silence award to Ontario's Office of the Fire Marshal and the CAJ Charles Bury Award to the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

A RECAP OF #CAJ17!

Photo courtesy heipei via Flickr

We were so excited for this year’s national conference on April 28-29 in Ottawa. As journalism continues to take a hit, with layoffs piling up and continued attacks on press freedom, we know it's not easy in Canadian newsrooms. And we also know this:

#JournalismMatters

So we rallied in Ottawa. Our delgates and presenters collaborated on valuable discussions on press freedom, freelancing, interviewing, data, ethics and more—and they networked throughout.

If you missed the conference, check out the #CAJ17 page and browse the liveblogs we offered for every single session.

THE Latest FROM THE CAJ

Changes to Media magazine: A letter from David McKie

The CAJ is excited to launch a new "In the Field" digital series which will formally replace our longest running publication, Media magazine. Below, Media magazine editor and data-journalist extraordinaire, David McKie talks about the changes.


 Flipping through past editions of Media magazine is like a taking a trip through the milestones of an industry evolving in ways that are still hard to imagine. The publication has gone from paper, to PDF, and back to paper for one special awards edition, only to return to PDF format. Media has tracked the evolution of computer-assisted reporting, data-journalism, investigative journalism, shrinking newsrooms, shrinking news holes and the challenges facing journalism schools.

Though the formats, and themes evolved, what remained constant was the outstanding content, and the scribes who toiled year after year to write thoughtful columns, how-to articles and evocative essays.

Every year, award-winners – CAJ NNA, Michener Award – graced the  pages with accounts of how they got their stories, and advice and encouragement for those seeking to till the same ground.

Even as our business evolves, and the digital space assumes greater primacy, there will always be a space for the kind of thoughtful content I’ve just described. In fact, I’d go one step further and suggest that such content is our lifeblood.

It is because of this belief that the CAJ has decided that though Media content will live on, it won’t be inside the pages of a standard publication. Instead, we will seek to find a wider audience by pushing the content out on social media, allowing folks on Facebook and Twitter to share the content more easily.

So, while this may be goodbye to Media magazine, it is a reaffirmation that the content will live on in ways that will evolve to even more venues (such as podcasts!) So, please stay tuned.

In the meantime, over the next several weeks we’ll be sharing write-ups from CAJ and NNA award-winners on topics such as the escalating opioid use, the still-vexing problem of suicides among veterans and, the sloppiness of some long-term care facilities.  

We look forward to the conversations these stories will generate.

Until the next time.  

David McKie 

David McKie is the long-time editor of Media magazine, a producer in CBC News’ Parliamentary bureau, author of two journalism textbooks, and data journalism teacher at Algonquin College, Carleton University and the University of King’s College. 


From Mindy McAdams' "Job skills for the new media: What you'll need to know to survive online" (1997) to Fred Vallance-Jones' "Bringing the Panama Papers to your doorstep" (2016) you can find it all in the Media mag archive right HERE! 

Stay tuned for our "In the Field" digital series where top journalists will share the stories (and secrets) behind their award-winning works. 

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CAJ applauds passage of press shield law

OTTAWA, Oct. 5, 2017 — The Canadian Association of Journalists is pleased that Parliament is set to pass Bill S-231, which strengthens protections for confidential sources of journalists. The Journalistic Sources Protection Act passed third reading at the end of September, and is expected to receive royal assent shortly.

The new law will allow journalists to refuse to surrender documents to law enforcement officials that would identify an anonymous source, except in certain circumstances.

“This last year has been marked by repeated threats to journalistic independence and the press freedom that underscores our democracy, as well as Canadians' ability to have the information necessary to engage in public debate,” said CAJ president Nick Taylor-Vaisey. “Brave whistleblowers who approach journalists—speaking anonymously and at great personal risk—often expose stories of corruption and public interest. This bill will provide much-needed legal protection to those Canadians.”

The CAJ also supports the creation of a special advocate who would, at the request of a judge, make the case for continued protection of sources when legal authorities seek warrants for surveillance or seizure of records that could identify anonymous sources.

Despite this positive step forward, Canada still struggles to provide certain basic press freedoms, and ranked 22nd in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

“In recent years, law enforcement repeatedly tapped the phones of journalists. Courts consistently approved warrants that harmed press freedom,” said Taylor-Vaisey. “A federal agency went so far as to hire a private investigator to identify an investigative journalist's anonymous source.”

The Canadian Association of Journalists supports this bill and applauds the advocates who pushed so hard for its passage. The CAJ now calls on the country’s public officials to respect the role press freedom plays in a strong Canadian democracy.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing more than 500 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members. 

For more information: 

Nick Taylor-Vaisey, CAJ President
647.968.2393
nick@caj.ca

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CAJ statement on Rebel Media

OTTAWA, Aug. 23, 2017 — Rebel Media’s conduct at Charlottesville protests and accusations of impropriety leveled at the organization from former employees have both raised questions about Rebel’s legitimacy as a news outlet, and reignited a debate about what counts as journalism in a rapidly evolving media landscape.

As some commentators and reporters look to the Canadian Association of Journalists for guidance at a controversial time, the CAJ wants to clarify its past advocacy on Rebel Media’s behalf—and its criticism of that organization, too.

When the Alberta government attempted to block Rebel Media’s access to the provincial legislature, the CAJ opposed that decision on the grounds that governments shouldn’t get to decide who is—and isn’t—a journalist. When the UN climate conference rejected Rebel Media’s application for accreditation, we supported their appeal on similar grounds.

Earlier this year, however, the CAJ criticized Rebel Media’s decision to block a Canadaland reporter from a private event to which other reporters had been allowed access. The CAJ demanded Rebel Media offer equal treatment to all reporters.

The CAJ, which is a professional development and advocacy organization but not a regulatory body, encourages all journalists to follow the organization’s ethics guidelines, which are widely cited as best practices for Canadian journalists.

Those guidelines include the following points:

  • We do not allow our own biases to impede fair and accurate reporting.

  • We carefully consider our political activities and community involvements—including those online—and refrain from taking part in demonstrations, signing petitions, doing public relations work, fundraising or making financial contributions if there is a chance we will be covering the campaign, activity or group involved.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing more than 500 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members.

For more information:

Nick Taylor-Vaisey, CAJ President
647.968.2393
nick@caj.ca

 

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Call for nominations: Code of Silence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government Secrecy

The Canadian Association of Journalists, the Centre for Free Expression, News Media Canada and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression are inviting nominations for the Code of Silence Award for outstanding achievement in government secrecy. The award will be given annually in each of four categories—federal, provincial, municipal and police services—starting this fall.

If you have met resistance in getting information from a public body, please send us your nomination for a deserving award recipient along with the reasons why it should be chosen. Nominations will be considered by a jury who will select the "winners." Awards will be presented in October and November at public events in the cities in which each of the recipients is located.

Nominations must be submitted by August 31, 2017. They should be sent to Ange Holmes, Coordinator, Centre for Free Expression, Ryerson University either by email (ange.holmes@ryerson.ca) or by mail (350 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2K3). All nominations will be acknowledged and all nominators will be invited to the awards ceremonies.



Appel de candidatures – Prix Code of Silence reconnaissant une contribution exceptionnelle à la culture du secret au sein d’une administration publique

L’Association canadienne des journalistes, le Centre for Free Expression, Médias d’info Canada et Canadian Journalists for Free Expression sollicitent les mises en candidature au prix Code of Silence (code du silence), qui reconnaît une contribution exceptionnelle à la culture du secret au sein d’une administration publique. Dès cet automne, le prix sera décerné chaque année à un service public dans chacune des quatre catégories suivantes : administration fédérale, administration provinciale, administration municipale et service de police.

Si un service public est demeuré muet face à vos demandes d’informations répétées, soumettez-nous sa candidature, et indiquez les raisons pour lesquelles vous estimez qu’il mérite de recevoir ce prix. Un jury examinera les candidatures proposées et sélectionnera les « gagnants ». Les prix seront remis en octobre et en novembre prochains lors de cérémonies publiques dans les villes où sont établis les lauréats. 

Les candidatures doivent être envoyées au plus tard le 31 août 2017, à Ange Holmes, coordonnatrice au Centre for Free Expression de l’Université Ryerson, par courriel (ange.holmes@ryerson.ca) ou par la poste (350, rue Victoria, Toronto (Ont.), M5B 2K3). Toutes les candidatures proposées seront dévoilées aux cérémonies de remise de prix, en présence de leurs auteurs.  

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Here's how Ottawa can help local news: CAJ

OTTAWAJune 16, 2017 /CNW/ — The Canadian Association of Journalists supports several recommendations in a parliamentary committee's report on the future of local news that proactively—but non-intrusively—encourage high-quality journalism in Canada.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage's latest report, Disruption: Change and Churning in Canada'sMedia Landscape, made 20 recommendations to strengthen local news across Canada. The CAJ appreciates the committee's attempt to consult widely as it studied an issue critical to the public interest—a process that included CAJ testimony.

Several of the committee's recommendations responded to the priorities of like-minded journalism organizations that highlighted the revenue problem plaguing local news, including the Canadian Newspaper Association and others. The CAJ supports recommendations to:

  • Amend sections 19, 19.01 and 19.1 of the Income Tax Act to allow deduction of digital advertising on Canadian-owned platforms;

  • Introduce a tax credit to compensate print media companies for a portion of their capital and labour investments in digital media; and

  • Ensure that foreign news aggregators are subject to the same tax obligations as Canadian providers


"As advertising dollars slipped away, gobbled up by digital giants like Facebook and Google, journalists have watched their newsrooms shrink," said CAJ President Nick Taylor-Vaisey. "These measures could help local newsrooms reclaim some of that lost revenue."

One of the CAJ's stated priorities comprised one of the lesser reported recommendations of Disruption, which called on the federal government to make it easier for non-profit journalism outlets to flourish in Canada by making those organizations eligible for charity status.

"The recommendation on charity status reflects a long-simmering discussion in Canada about alternative funding models for journalism," said Taylor-Vaisey. "We know there's all kinds of potential for not-for-profits to produce public-interest journalism that matters."

The CAJ also supports the committee's recommendation on encouraging Indigenous journalism, which echoes a recommendation of the Public Policy Forum's Shattered Mirror report. "Canadian newsrooms desperately need Indigenous voices to tell stories that matter, and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is well-suited to lead any effort to that end," said Taylor-Vaisey.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing more than 500 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members.

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Canadian newsrooms must transform themselves: CAJ

May 20, 2017 / CNW / — Canadian journalists have spent a week confronting complex debates about cultural appropriation, free expression and the underrepresentation of minority and marginalized writers in most major newsrooms. The Canadian Association of Journalists understands these issues are divisive, but urges media owners to lead an industry-wide effort to transform newsroom culture—and make room for more diverse voices.

As the #AppropriationPrize controversy that grew out of Hal Niedzviecki’s resignation as editor of the Writers’ Union of Canada’s magazine continues to unfold, the CAJ remains a champion of free expression. Public debate requires voices from a wide variety of perspectives, including and especially those that challenge the status quo.

But the recent controversy has laid bare the ugly truth that Canadian media suffers from a lack of prominent diverse voices and varied perspectives. “Journalists need to challenge our own assumptions by engaging, learning about, and finally writing about other cultures,” said CAJ President Nick Taylor-Vaisey. “But newsroom leaders also need to recognize the glaring lack of non-white perspectives on their own mastheads and broadcasts—and make tangible, sustainable changes that create more room for those voices.

“Canadian newsrooms are nowhere near as culturally diverse as many of the communities we cover,” said Taylor-Vaisey. “The only way to change that is to hire—and amplify—more voices from as many perspectives as possible.”

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing more than 500 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members.

For more information, please contact:

Nick Taylor-Vaisey, CAJ President
Phone: 647.968.2393
Email: nick@caj.ca

 

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APTN wins CAJ Charles Bury Award

OTTAWA, April 30, 2017 /CNW/ – The Canadian Association of Journalists recognized the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network with the CAJ Charles Bury Award at its annual awards gala at the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel on April 29.

The award is given under circumstances of exceptional merit to those people or organizations that have made a significant contribution to Canadian journalism. APTN is leading the charge on giving Indigenous people in Canada a voice on both sides of the camera, and the network is a stellar example of a growing news organization that embraces advocacy and professional development.

“When it comes to supporting journalists and fighting for journalism, APTN punches above its weight,” said CAJ President Nick Taylor-Vaisey. “They fight for press freedom in the courts. They pitched, organized and funded vital programming at our conference. They’re everywhere.”

Taylor-Vaisey also highlighted the individual contribution of Karyn Pugliese, whose name is front and centre in so much of APTN’s work. “As if all that wasn’t enough, Karyn even joined our ethics committee late last year,” said Taylor-Vaisey. “There’s no end to her energy and dedication.”

This award, formerly known as the President’s Award, was renamed in honour of veteran journalist and long-time CAJ board member Charles Bury, who died in February 2014.

The CAJ is Canada’s largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing nearly 600 members across the country. The CAJ’s primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

For further information:
Nick Taylor-Vaisey, CAJ president – 647-968-2393 cell, nick@caj.ca

 

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‘Congratulations’ to Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal!

OTTAWA, April 30, 2017 /CNW/ – The most secretive government department in Canada, as “honoured” by the Canadian Association of Journalists at its annual awards gala at the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel on April 29, is Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal.

The winning nomination for this year’s Code of Silence award came from Larry Cornies of the London Free Press, whose reporting on the aftermath of a costly fire, and a lack of transparency on the part of the London Fire Department and provincial Fire Marshal’s office, demonstrated a clear pattern of secrecy.

After a fire on June 30, 2016, which cost $1.5 million and destroyed a dozen businesses, Cornies inquired about the department’s response time. City council had earlier endorsed a goal of responding to fires within four minutes. The department referred all questions to the Fire Marshal’s office. No one would offer the data, which would have been available.

A mere 249 days later, after two appeals through freedom-of-information laws, the OFM finally revealed the response time: seven minutes and 11 seconds.

“The eight-month-long obfuscation raises the question of how city councillors in Ontario are supposed to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the fire departments accountable to them when such basic information is suppressed,” Cornies wrote in his nomination. “The OFM operates within a culture of secrecy—a culture that reaches into municipal departments that should instead be responsive to city councils and the citizens they serve.

“And all this under the nose of a provincial government that prides itself on having adopted ‘open government’ principles.”

Needless to say, the CAJ agrees.

We also awarded an honourable mention to the National Energy Board, which hired a vice-president of transparency and strategic engagement who, soon after taking the job, decided to “warn employees that they were under investigation by a private security firm for speaking to reporters.” That investigation was based on a “preliminary assessment” by the firm. When National Observer’s Mike De Souza, the NEB’s nominator, filed an access-to-information request for that report, the NEB told him there was no record of such an assessment.

Finally, we placed the Trudeau government on notice. After promising substantive—and necessary—access-to-information reform during the last campaign, the government has since backed away from any timelines at all on producing real results. “The Liberals did everything they could to match the Harper government’s record on this file,” said CAJ President Nick Taylor-Vaisey. “They fell a little short this year, but we have a good feeling about next year.”

The CAJ is Canada’s largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing nearly 600 members across the country. The CAJ’s primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

For further information:
Nick Taylor-Vaisey, CAJ president – 647-968-2393 cell, nick@caj.ca

 

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The Code of Silence award: Call for nominations!

As #CAJ17 approaches, it's time to revive our annual tongue-in-cheek tradition, an idea with serious overtones: the Canadian Association of Journalists' Code of Silence award. 

Nursed to life by past-president Rob Cribb, the idea was to "celebrate" Canada's most-secretive government, department, agency or publicly funded body. Who was putting that extra bit of elbow grease into keeping any sunlight from reaching the public's business?

The "winner" that first year? The Ontario Ministry of the Environment. 

The CAJ is now accepting nominations from journalists working in Canada who've been fighting the good fight to pry public information out of the hands of bureaucrats and politicians from sea, to sea, to sea.

Nominators are asked to think big and small. Previous winners include the entire federal government, omnibus government legislation, a former prime minister's office and, last year, Canada's "financial intelligence unit." They also include the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and come from questions as simple as how many fish were being spawned at a federal facility—an answer shared with tour groups but not with an inquiring journalist before the spin masters were involved.

If it takes and/or spends public money and isn't being open and transparent about how it does so, it's an eligible nominee.

Do you have an egregious example that gets your own blood boiling? Nominations can be e-mailed to our president at nick@caj.ca.

The winner will be announced during the closing banquet for the #CAJ17 conference at the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel on April 29Registration for the conference is open, with early bird rates ending April 25.

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#CAJ17: Learn data journalism at an intensive two-day boot camp

OTTAWA, March 30, 2017 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists is thrilled that some of Canada’s leading data journalists will spend a weekend teaching #CAJ17 delegates how to find, analyze and tell stories with data.

The CAJ has long featured data boot camps at its annual conferences, and the intensive workshops in Ottawa on April 28-29 will continue that tradition. King's College journalism professor Fred Vallance-Jones and CBC News' David McKie will team up to lead a series of workshops focusing on the power of unlocking data.

These award-winning journalists will be joined Friday and Saturday by an impressive lineup of trainers: experts from Esri Canada, distributors of ArcGIS; The Globe and Mail’s Michael Pereira; and CBC News’ Valérie Ouellet.

These sessions will cover a range of skills—from ground-level stuff like finding, cleaning and analysing data using spreadsheets to more complex skills such as mapping and making analysed data interactive. Several sessions require pre-registration, which can be done via email once you've signed up for the conference or at the registration desk on Friday.

Registration is currently open for this two-day conference, with fees starting at $249 plus HST for CAJ members for the full weekend, including a ticket to the conference banquet and gala. Rates for unemployed journalists and CAJ student members start at $75. Discounts are available for CAJ Award finalists as well those registering in a group. These early bird rates will rise after April 21. (Those attending the data sessions should bring a Wi-Fi capable laptop computer, either PC or Mac, for the hands-on portions.)

For those intending to stay at the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel, conference room rates starting at $169 plus taxes for a single room are still available. Check the Ottawa conference page on our website for more details.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing more than 500 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members.

For more information, please contact: Nick Taylor-Vaisey, CAJ President Phone: 647.968.2393 Email: nick@caj.ca

 

 

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