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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2015

CAUT honours excellence in education journalism

The winners for student category & professional category, Angelyn Francis &  Nick Martin, pose with their Excellence in Education Journalism Awards.
The winners for student category & professional category, Angelyn Francis & Nick Martin, pose with their Excellence in Education Journalism Awards.
Veteran reporter Nick Martin and Ryerson University student Angelyn Francis are the winners of the 2015 CAUT Excellence in Education Journalism Awards.

The journalists picked up their prizes May 2 at CAUT’s council meeting in Ottawa.

The jury recognized Martin in the professional category for his coverage of the University of Manitoba’s preparatory work to dismantle its 104-year-old faculty of human ecology.

In his article “The wreck of home ec,” published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Feb. 1, 2014, Martin wrote how the university administration opted to disband the freestanding faculty to meet a standard used by the U15 group, Canada’s association of research-intensive universities, to which the U of M belongs.

Many groups, both on and off campus, opposed the move to break up the faculty and have its major departments join with other disciplines, cautioning human ecology’s holistic approach to educating people was more than ever relevant to society. CAUT weighed in, arguing the U of M should see a faculty uni­que among large universities as an advantage, and not seek to do what other U15 universities do.

“The story for which you have honoured me begins back in 2012,” Martin told council delegates in accepting his award. “I became aware that pretty much anytime that the University of Manitoba’s senior administration spoke, that there was mention of U15, and U of M’s place within U15. I initially took it to be jargon for the category of the largest universities in the Maclean’s rankings.

“I interviewed a wide variety of human ecology grads and people in the community relying on their
well-rounded knowledge, and every one of them emphasized how combining such a wide range of areas of expertise in one degree made a human ecology grad so valuable — such as understanding the stages of life, nutrition, child and infant development, family studies, housing, poverty, counselling and basic human needs. The U of M’s decision did not go over well.”

Martin, who joined the Free Press in 1989 and has been a daily newspaper reporter since 1971, was also named a winner of CAUT’s award in 2003.

The work of Angelyn Francis, a third year journalism student at Ryerson University, was selected as the winner of CAUT’s award in the student category.

As part of the Ryerson newscast Toronto Today, Francis covered an impromptu tent city erected by student protesters on Ryerson’s campus in November 2014 to pressure the administration to freeze tuition fees. The members of tent city slept outside for a week while the Ryerson Students’ Union took to social media to raise awareness and received more than 6,000 signatures for a petition to lower tuition.

“I am honored to receive this recognition at the beginning of my career in journalism,” Francis said in accepting her award. “This inspires me to keep reporting on issues about real people and their struggles to create social change.”

The awards, now in their 15th year, celebrate established and emerging talent. They showcase aspects of university and college education that are of major or significance from journalists and commentators working at national, regional or local levels. Award winners are selected by an independent panel of judges. Each award is worth $1,000.