CAUT president Penni Stewart (centre) hands out the 8th annual journalism awards April 25 to Melissa Tobin, winner of the student media category & Douglas Todd, winner of the professional print & broadcast category.
Recipients from opposite ends of the country are winners of CAUT’s 2009 Excellence in Education Journalism Awards
, which come with a cash prize of $1,000.
Melissa Tobin from Newfoundland and Labrador won the student prize for a selection of articles she wrote for U-News.ca, an online medium produced by journalism students at the University of King’s College in Halifax.
The series focused on secret hazing rituals at St. Francis Xavier University, revealing that the administration had settled in a court case and would be lifting sanctions that had been imposed, through a disciplinary hearing, against students who pled guilty to beating freshmen with tree branches, smearing their faces with fake feces and forcing them to rub stinging lotion on their genitalia.
Her second piece revealed that the university was grappling with another hazing incident on campus and a subsequent article put the local incident in context, with a hazing expert saying what happened at St.FX appears to be commonplace and how either a hazing or pledging related incident has resulted in at least one death a year in the United States since 1970. Tobin later posted a student reaction video on YouTube that generated more than 40 comments.
The award’s jury found Tobin’s work “sheds light on a dark corner of student life,” and her story “met all the criteria … a strongly-reported local issue with national significance, well written and (one that) produced follow up work.”
Douglas Todd won the professional division for “At Death’s Door” (The Vancouver Sun) an in-depth article about Kwantlen Polytechnic University sociologist and front-line euthanasia researcher Russel Ogden.
“Through Todd’s feature we learn what makes Ogden tick, where he finds his inspiration and how and why he has endured several police investigations and being publicly shunned by his peers and university administrators,” said CAUT president Penni Stewart. “His work shows depth of reporting and provides an accessible and illuminating account of an issue often oversimplified in the mainstream media.”
CAUT’s journalism awards were established in 2001 to recognize and promote in-depth and thoughtful coverage of issues related to post-secondary education in Canada.
Each award is decided by an independent jury. This year’s jury included James Compton, an associate professor in the University of Western Ontario faculty of information and media studies; Janice Neil, an associate professor of journalism at Ryerson University; and Jeff Sallot, an instructor of journalism and communication at Carleton University.
Prizes were handed out April 25 during CAUT’s Council meeting held in Ottawa.