The CAJ’s annual awards program recognizes the best in Canadian journalism with a particular focus on investigative work. Entries are welcome from any practising journalist whose work has been published or broadcast in Canada.

Investigative Awards

These categories recognize journalism in a variety of media. Entries don’t have to be purely investigative to qualify; investigative entries are given added weight. Items based on the same body of research, regardless of which medium they were released in, can only be entered in one category. Entries in each of these categories are limited to one piece, or a series of up to three related pieces. The recipient(s) of the Don McGillivray Award for Investigative Journalism is/are chosen from these categories:

  • Written News (formerly Open Media) – Entries welcome for predominantly text-based pieces published in print or online, in any Canadian media outlet, regardless of publication frequency, circulation or audience reach.
  • Community Media (formerly Community Written) – Entries welcome for text-based pieces published in print or online in any Canadian media outlet. Print entries limited to those media printed fewer than five times a week or with an average daily print circulation of under 25,000. Online-only entries not from a print newsroom must serve a regional or community audience, and provide verifiable data to the awards committee on request. Individual entries into this category from CAJ members are free.
  • Broadcast Over Five Minutes (formerly Broadcast Feature) – Entries welcome for any piece with a runtime of more than five minutes, predominantly audio/podcast or video, broadcast to an audience of any size over the air or online.
  • Broadcast Under Five Minutes (formerly Broadcast News) – Entries are welcome for any piece with a runtime of fewer than five minutes, predominantly audio or video, broadcast to an audience of any size over the air or online.
  • Community Broadcast – Entries of any length welcome for any piece, predominantly audio/podcast or video, whose broadcast is targeted to a community or regional audience over the air or online. Over the air broadcast submissions must come from a local or regional station. Online entries not from a TV or radio broadcaster must serve a regional or community audience and provide verifiable data to the awards committee on request. Individual entries into this category from CAJ members are free.
  • CAJ / GlobeNewswire Data Journalism – Entries welcome from any media in any format published or broadcast in Canada where data journalism / Computer Assisted Reporting techniques played a key and indispensable part in developing the story. This category is meant to highlight the use of data journalism, but not at the expense of good journalism and good storytelling.
  • (NEW) Freedom of Information journalism – Entries welcome from media in any format published or broadcast in Canada in which the use of Freedom of Information or Access to Information request(s) played a key and essential role in developing the story. Judges may consider the difficulties through which the information was obtained, but the emphasis will be on quality storytelling and journalism that harnesses information gleaned from intelligent use of such documents. The requests can be for information from a Canadian public institution at any level.
  • Online Media – Entries welcome in any online-only format. No part of this entry can include any element that was published in print or broadcast on television or radio.

General Awards

These categories recognize exemplary journalism. Recipients are not eligible for consideration for the Don McGillivray award.

  • Photojournalism – Entries welcome showcasing a portfolio of up to 20 photographs demonstrating journalistic vision, consistent quality and a reflection of the entrant’s professionalism and journalistic abilities. No supporting letter is required in this category.
  • Scoop – Entries welcome from any media in any format published or broadcast in Canada that was the first to bring new or significant information to light of regional or national importance. A supporting letter explaining how the entry met this criteria is mandatory. Entry limited to one piece.
  • Daily excellence –Entries welcome from any media in any format published or broadcast in Canada demonstrating excellence in daily, deadline-driven reporting based on same-day research. One piece plus related element (for example, sidebars)
  • Written Feature –Entries welcome for any primarily text-based article published in Canada that is not specifically investigative in nature. An entry is one piece.
  • JHR / CAJ Emerging Indigenous Journalist Award –This award recognizes exemplary journalism being produced by a First Nations, Inuit or Metis journalist who is at the beginning of their career. This is a portfolio category of up to three pieces in any format, published or broadcast in Canada in the preceding calendar year, from a journalist with up to five years’ experience. The submitted work can be on any topic– we are seeking to recognize an amazing journalist creating amazing work on the issues they care about. A supporting letter is mandatory and must include information on when the person started working in journalism. It should also include what First Nations, Metis or Inuit community the person is from, where they have been recognized as a member of the community.
  • JHR / CAJ Award for Human Rights Reporting – What is human rights reporting? This prize rewards journalism that puts a human face on situations where human rights are not respected and/or holds authorities to account to do a better job of protecting those rights. As a result, the story builds awareness of human rights and social justice issues, and shows the human impact and the human cost of abstract political and economic forces. Entries limited to a single piece, published or broadcast on a single day in the preceding calendar year.
  • CWA Canada / CAJ Award for Labour reporting – What are labour issues? Judges will be instructed toreward those entries that effectively bring to the public’s attention important labour issues. The award seeks to honour journalism that goes beyond a work-to-rule, strike, lockout or other job action and shows skill in reporting on the social, economic and political factors that impact the labour environment in Canada. Entries showing impact on policy, law or public awareness are encouraged. This award is meant to recognize great journalism on labour issues that can make a difference in the lives of Canadians. Does an entry have to be reporting on a union? No– judges are looking for the best journalism on labour issues. While Canada’s unions are integral to the labour movement, not all of the labour issues that are reported on in this country involve unions. It’s expected many entries will include the labour movement and unions, but this is not a requirement of the award. Entries are encouraged in either official language. Entries are a single piece, published or broadcast on a single day in the preceding calendar year. Should the judges determine it appropriate, one award may be handed out for reporting done in English and another in French.
  • APTN / CAJ Reconciliation Award – This award seeks to recognize the work of a non-Indigenous journalist whose reporting has broadened the understanding of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. This is work that digs beneath the surface of a news event and educates Canadians on the historic and ongoing challenges of the relationships between Canada’s Indigenous peoples, the people in power and the people who’ve come to call Canada home. This is a portfolio entry of up to three pieces, in any format, broadcast or published in Canada in the preceding calendar year. A supporting letter is mandatory.
  • Science Media Centre of Canada / CAJ Environmental and Climate Change Award – Entries welcome which have contributed to improving the understanding and awareness of the evolving climate crisis and its impact on the daily lives and well-being of people. An entry is one piece, plus a related sidebar.
  • CAJ Student Award of Excellence – Entries welcome from students enrolled in a recognized journalism program at a Canadian post-secondary institution and/or whose submissions were published in student media. Feature-style entries encouraged. Proof of enrollment must be provided with entry. No entry fee, though individuals must be CAJ student members. For group entries, contact the awards committee. An entry may be one piece or up to three related pieces.

Entries must have been first published or broadcast in English, French, or another language within the previous calendar year. Entries welcomed from journalists working outside of Canada, provided the location of first broadcast / publication originated within Canada. Entries accepted from outlets based in Canada and directed at a Canadian audience. A non-Canadian outlet is eligible if it has regular standalone Canadian sections or pages, and its editorial team has at least one member based full-time in Canada.

Proof of publication / broadcast meeting these criteria, if not ascertainable from the entry itself, may be requested by the awards committee.

The CAJ Awards wants to recognize your best work and we acknowledge it can be challenging at times to pull out a few items from a body of work that includes many different elements.

Entry composition is defined for each category. Please do not overburden the judges with an unending entry. Careful consideration of which elements are included with an entry that effectively demonstrate your best work is encouraged. In multi-platform or multi-outlet submissions, there is greater value in showing three strong elements regardless of format/outlet, rather than submitting a similar piece in each format/from each outlet.

Material produced from the same body of research cannot be submitted in multiple categories. Entrants are encouraged to carefully weigh what they’ve produced and which elements most powerfully and effectively tell the story and submit the appropriate pieces into the suitable category.

No part of any entry can be submitted in another category. No part of any team entry can be submitted by an individual in the same or another category. Entrants are asked to carefully consider and weigh the categories before submitting.

A supporting letter must be submitted with each entry (except Photojournalism). This is your opportunity to tell the judges how and why you did the work. What resources did you have available to you? What were the challenges involved? What impact did it have and did it produce change? Cover letters should not be endorsements or testimonials.

If submitting a team entry, please include the names of all those who were part of the team as part of your entry. We will not recognize finalist team members whose names were not included when the team entry was finalized and submitted, so please ensure all those deserving of credit for the entry are listed on submission and payment.

Judging Procedures

At least one winning entry per category can be declared by the judges. Winning entries in the investigative categories are then passed on to the Don McGillivray Award judges, who decide the winner of this overall award. Judges may declare “no winner” for a category. If this occurs, no finalists in that category will be announced.

Judges use the same published criteria available to those who enter the awards along with the general criteria below to determine their ranking.

In those categories including French-language entries, the awards committee will assign a minimum of one bilingual or Francophone judge to the category. Judges selected and assigned by the awards committee are experienced journalists who are not eligible to compete in the category in which they are judging.

Judges are asked to consider the following:

  • Entries in investigative categories need not be purely investigative, however investigative entries are given added weight;
  • Original subjects and content matter;
  • Effective use of the medium—imagery, clarity, language and narrative;
  • The breadth and scope of the research undertaken, as well as how it was used within the entry;
  • Impact and timeliness;
  • The degree of difficulty in research or production, resources available to the journalist / newsroom, time available for production and/or risk involved in getting the story;
  • In the photojournalism, emerging Indigenous journalist and reconciliation categories, the objective is not to find the single best photo or piece, but reward the overall body of work submitted in the entry;
  • In the labour category, entries that go beyond a work-to-rule, strike, lockout or other job action to report on the broader social, economic and political impact on the labour movement and market will be given preference and added weight.

Fees

An entry fee is required for each entry in every category.* Entry fees include taxes.

  • CAJ member – $30 *
  • Non-member – $110
  • CAJ student member – $25 *
  • Team entry, all CAJ members – $60
  • Team entry, non-members – $200

Non-member entrants are encouraged to sign up for a membership when submitting an entry so they can pay the CAJ-member entry fee.

* There is NO entry fee for CAJ student members entering the Student Award of Excellence. Nor for individual CAJ members entering the Community Media or Community Broadcast categories.

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