The Yukon News has the best website among the 120 newspapers in the BC and Yukon Community Newspaper Association.
“Very professional layout with an immediate sense of community and engaging multimedia video presentations focusing on the local community,” said judges for the Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards in announcing the paper won gold.
And that was but one of eight awards handed the paper on Saturday night.
Reporter John Thompson walked away with three of the trophies.
Thompson won for investigative reporting surrounding $3 million in federal affordable housing money that was transferred to the Liard First Nation by the Yukon cabinet and used to buy hotels owned by Community Services Minister Archie Lang.
“In this time of financial turmoil and uncertainty, few journalistic endeavours are more important than keeping tabs on taxpayers’ money and the officials who sometimes see it as their own. A great piece,” said the judge in their remarks.
Thompson also won gold in the Feature Series category for his piece on Sheldon Miller, a man with heart trouble who found himself on the hook for a $20,000 medevac bill courtesy of the Yukon government. After Thompson’s series, Health officials forgave Miller’s bill.
“An unbeatable example of how journalism can make a concrete difference to the community,” said the judge. “Thompson’s dogged reporting forms a dramatic series with a well-constructed arc that ultimately leads to a satisfying conclusion. Thompson brought a bureaucratic injustice to life, and generated enough community outrage that government policy was changed. A well-deserved win for an outstanding reporter.”
He also won an Outdoor Recreation Writing Award for his feature on songbirds.
“Faultless,” said the judge. “Pushes all the right buttons. As a judge for the past three years, I knew the North wouldn’t let down my increasing optimism in its talented journalists. Thompson has come through in spades.”
Genesee Keevil took silver in the same category.
James Munson won gold in Environmental Writing for his coverage of Premier Dennis Fentie’s interference in the Peel Watershed planning process.
“Munson’s series of stories on the Peel Watershed plan could easily win best news story,” said the judge. “It has all the ingredients, with a meddling politician, secret e-mails and a shelved report that details a struggle between mining and environmental interests. This is an excellent combination of investigative reporting and environmental writing at its best.”
Again, Keevil placed second in the category with her piece on federal legislation that will allow the damming of more Canadian rivers.
“Keevil breaks an equally impressive story about how the federal government fast-tracked legislation to the benefit of private interest without the knowledge of environmental groups. Excellent work on a story that later gained national attention and alerted many environmental groups to a problem they didn’t even know existed until Keevil contacted them.”
Wyatt Tremblay won gold for his controversial cartoon portraying territorial seizure of aboriginal children.
“Courage was the deciding factor in awarding first place,” wrote the judge. “The visual was impactful, both negatively and positively. I applaud both the cartoonist and the editor for striving to create a strong picture for a story that needed to be told. True newspaper stuff.”
Columnist Al Pope also won gold for his outstanding work for the paper.
And photo/web editor Mike Thomas won gold for sports photography.
In total, the paper was nominated in 11 categories.
Editor Richard Mostyn won silver for an editorial on Fentie’s ethics.
The paper won silver for overall excellence.
Keevil won bronze for excellence in arts and culture writing.
Photographer Chris Colbourne won bronze for his sports photography.
The BC/Yukon Community Newspaper Association represents 120 papers in the region with a combined readership of more than 2 million.