Fifth Estate wins award for Ashley Smith docs
Prestigious Michener prize given for public service journalism
The CBC program The Fifth Estate has won the 2010 Michener Award, an annual honour recognizing meritorious public service journalism in Canada.
Gov. Gen. David Johnston presented the award for the program's two documentaries on the case of Ashley Smith, a 19-year-old woman who had initially been sentenced to a month in juvenile detention when she was 14, but ended up serving more than four years, mostly in solitary confinement.
CBC had to fight to have some of the court documents released, including a video of Smith's death.
On Tuesday night, CBC's Hana Gartner said she felt she had failed with the story because the government stonewalled questions on the case. But she's reassured that the court battle will have a lasting effect.
"In the years to come, journalists are going to see more access... I'm constantly told the precedents changed."
"Coralee Smith [Ashley Smith's mother] wanted so badly for the public to see what happened to her daughter and what happens to people in the system.
"The award means the world to me because of what it is... especially going out on it," said Gartner, who is retiring from CBC after a 35-year career with the public broadcaster.
Based on impact, results
Each year, the Michener Award goes to a news organization that makes a significant impact on the public good and achieves identifiable results.
Jane Armstrong, a freelance journalist who has worked for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, is the winner of the 2011 Michener-Deacon Fellowship, a prize worth up to $30,000 to allow the winner a four-month leave to work on investigative print and broadcast journalism that serves the public interest through values that benefit the community.
Armstrong's fellowship project will scrutinize the impact of Canada’s aid programs in Afghanistan over the past decade and explore the future of those projects when Canada’s military role winds down this summer.
A statement released to announce Armstrong's win said the judges felt confident Armstrong would deliver stories that focused on both the issues and the human beings affected by the aftermath in Afghanistan given her strong reporting skills and clear-eyed analysis of the topic in the past.