Edmonton Journal The Edmonton Journal was recognized during the National Newspaper Awards in Toronto on Friday, April 27, 2012 for exemplary news coverage. Veteran writer and editor Sheila Pratt received a certificate of merit for political writing and a team of reporters, editors and photographers received a certificate of merit for breaking news coverage of last May’s devastating wildfire in Slave Lake. Canada’s equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize, the National Newspaper Awards were established in 1949 by the Toronto Press Club and are presented annually by the not-for-profit Canadian Daily Newspaper Awards Programme Administration.

It is a tribute to the quality of the work being done in our newsroom that the Journal was nominated for two such prestigious awards,” said Lucinda Chodan, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief. “We are tremendously proud of the work they do every day, and when news happens in our community, they rise to the occasion.

Winners were announced in 22 categories, with 71 finalists chosen from a field of 1,350 entries.

The former city editor and managing editor of the Journal, Pratt was nominated for her investigation of the climate of fear and intimidation in Alberta’s public life. Her package of stories appeared on the front page on April 24, 2011, under the headline, “You are with us or against us,” and explored a cultural shift within the Progressive Conservative party. A second story, “The fear factor in Alberta politics,” examined a culture of fear and little resistance to government actions.

Daniel Leblanc of The Globe and Mail was judged the winner in political writing for coverage of corruption and collusion in the Quebec construction industry. The other nominee was Don Butler of the Ottawa Citizen, for stories about how Canada grants asylum to refugees.

A team from the Journal’s newsroom contributed to produce in-depth coverage of the wildfire, which caused the evacuation of the town of 7,000 people and caused about $700 million in insurable damages, the second-costliest disaster of its kind in Canadian history.

Among other things, the Journal created a specific Internet site for online coverage of the fire that was updated constantly and produced three stories the following day that described the destruction, provided eyewitness accounts and political reaction.

Before residents were allowed to return to town, the devastation was also captured in a 360-degree video.

The winner in the breaking news category was Mark MacKinnon of The Globe and Mail for coverage of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The Journal has won 15 awards in the competition’s 63 years, most recently in 2005, when its newsroom was honoured in the breaking news category for coverage of the tragic shootings of four Mounties in Mayerthorpe.

On April 24 two Journal employees were recognized Monday for their excellence in education reporting.

Education writer Andrea Sands and photographer Larry Wong each tied for top honours in their respective categories of the Alberta Teachers’ Association annual Education News Writers and Photographers of Alberta awards, known as EdNews.

Sands shared first prize in the daily newspaper coverage category with Amanda Stephenson, the education writer from the Medicine Hat News, while Wong’s counterpart at the Calgary Herald, Stuart Gradon, shared top photography honours.

In a news release, ATA spokesman Jonathan Teghtmeyer said the close competition highlighted the complexity of issues concerning education in Alberta. He praised the winners for their “superb” job in covering a wide range of subjects “in a balanced and compelling way.”

The Journal’s editor-in-chief Lucinda Chodan said readers have repeatedly indicated that education in Alberta is a topic of key interest to them.

Over the past year on the education beat, Andrea Sands has written about everything from the quality of pedagogy to school lunches,” Chodan said. “I am delighted that she has been recognized for that coverage. In addition, this is the second consecutive year that Larry Wong’s telling photography has been recognized by the ATA, something we are very proud of.

Winners in the category of weekly newspaper coverage were reporter Kevin Maimann of the Edmonton Examiner and photographer Jeremy Broadfield of the Cochrane Eagle.

The EdNews awards were established in 1980 to recognize the important role Alberta newspapers play in promoting awareness of public education issues, events and achievements. Entries are judged by an independent panel of judges from the fields of communication and photography.

On March 23, Edmonton Journal science writer Ed Struzik has won the 2012 Yves Fortier Earth Science Journalism award, an annual honour presented by the Geological Association of Canada. Struzik’s winning story, Solving Mammoth Mysteries, detailed the research being done by scientists to determine what giant-sized beasts prowled the prehistoric Arctic. It was published in November 2011.

The $1,000 award recognizes excellence in newsprint media covering earth science topics. This is the fourth time Struzik has won the national award.

It’s especially gratifying to receive an award from the professional association that represents the scientists I often write about,” Struzik said. “Scientists have a high standard for accuracy and a disdain for journalists who don’t understand complexity. This tells me that my desire to entertain and inform readers is not compromising those standards.

Struzik, who has been with the Edmonton Journal for 30 years, has explored and written extensively on Arctic issues. He has won many awards for his work, including National Newspaper and National Magazine awards.

It’s remarkable for one journalist to be recognized to the degree that Ed has in this field,” Journal Editor-in-Chief Lucinda Chodan said. “It is manifest evidence that he is one of the best science writers in Canada, something we are very proud of.

compiled from articles from the Edmonton Journal