Live Blog at 4pm ET: Presenting the 5th Annual Digital Publishing Awards


The day has arrived! At 4pm ET, the winners of the 2020 Digital Publishing Awards will be unveiled in a livestream digital presentation on and you can follow along here on

Be sure to keep refreshing this page to see live updates starting from 4pm ET. We are looking forward to sharing all the exciting news with you, your friends and colleagues.

If you’re hosting a watch party with Zoom or other video conferencing tools, or you’re a DPA winner, we want to hear from you!

Send us your photos, videos or speeches by email at or tag us on Twitter @DPAwards or on Facebook @DPAwards. We will share your tweets, posts and videos here on our live blog and on our social media channels.

[5:20pm] That concludes our Winners Celebration! Thank you to everyone for joining us and a huge congratulations to the outstanding winners and finalists of the 2020 Digital Publishing Awards!

See the complete list of winners, including honourable mentions, at

[5:16] Closing out the #DPA20 Winners Celebration, the nominees and winners of General Excellence: Large Publication…

[5:13] Now presenting General Excellence: Medium Publication…

[5:09pm] We’re down to the final award! General Excellence is split into 3 divisions honouring publications that live up to their editorial mandate, meet high journalistic standards, and serve their intended audience by taking full advantage of the opportunities digital mediums offer.

First up, let’s see who takes home the gold in the small publication division…

[5:05pm] Let’s take a look at Innovation in Digital Storytelling…

[5:00pm] Check out this excellent work nominated in Best Digital Design…

[4:58pm] Next up, Best Podcast…

[4:55] We have a tie for gold in Best Editorial Newsletter!

Love this, thank you for sharing!

[4:50pm] Now onto Best Social Storytelling… let’s see who takes home the gold…

[4:48pm] The next award recognizes outstanding use of photography to tell a story, including photojournalism, photo essay, photo galleries, conceptual photography and photo-illustration. Now revealing the #DPA20 winners in Best Photo Storytelling…

[4:46pm] Best Online Mini-Doc is next, check out these outstanding nominees and winners…

Let’s hear from the winners!

[4:42pm] Let’s take a look at Best Online Video: Feature…

[4:40pm] Now presenting Best Online Video: Short

[4:36pm] Next up is Best Science & Technology Storytelling…

[4:34pm] Best Arts & Culture Storytelling honours go to…

[4:30pm] Let’s take a look at the Best Service Feature nominees and winners!

[4:26pm] Next up is Best Personal Essay – be sure to bookmark these great reads!

[4:24pm] Let’s take a look at the nominees and winners in Best Feature Article: Long…

[4:22pm] Best Feature Article coming up…

The #DPA20 gold in Best Feature Article goes to “How the RCMP found Canada’s most wanted fugitives with a raven, a Cree trapper and luck” by @RenataDAliesio and @MelTait of the @globeandmail. Congratulations!

Read this award-winning piece here.

[4:20pm] Now presenting Best Feature Article: Short

[4:15pm] Let’s see who the #DPA20 Best Column gold medal goes to…

[4:12pm] Best News Coverage: Community Publication is announced!

Congrats to @XtraMagazine – gold winners in #DPA20 Best News Coverage: Community Publication for “Rainbow Votes 2019: LGBTQ2S Issues and the Canadian Federal Election”. Congrats @EricaLenti@rachelagiese and team! Read the award-winning coverage here.

We love hearing from the winning team – big congrats!

[4:10pm] Let’s see who takes home Best News Coverage…

[4:05pm] Best Digital Editorial Package is presented!

Check out the award-winning piece here:

[4:02pm] The #DPA20 Emerging Excellence Award goes to @JaneLytv of @BuzzfeedNews. Establishing herself as a global leader in debunking disinformation along with her vision and leadership skills impressed our jury. Congrats, Jane! Explore Jane’s work here:

Congratulations, Jane!

[4:00pm] And we’re off! The 5th Annual Digital Publishing Awards open with words from our 2020 Digital Publishing Leadership award winner, Dmitry Beniaminov.

This award is generously sponsored by the Reader’s Digest Foundation @ReadersDigestCA, a charity dedicated to the development of Canadian journalism, and supporting journalists and creators. Thank you!

Dmitry Beniaminov to be presented with the 2020 Digital Publishing Leadership Award

Award sponsored by the Reader’s Digest Foundation
Prix commandité par la Fondation Reader’s Digest

The National Media Awards Foundation congratulates Dmitry Beniaminov, the 2020 winner of the Digital Publishing Leadership Award. This award celebrates a creator whose career contributions to Canadian digital publishing deserve formal recognition, and it is the Digital Publishing Awards’ highest individual distinction.

Beniaminov is a York University graduate, with a Bachelor in Computer Science/Engineering and Psychology, and is certified with the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB). Since graduating, Beniaminov has accumulated nearly 20 years of experience working as a technology consultant and digital marketing advisor and, as of 2016, offers his services via, Pixel Studioz, his web design firm.

“Dmitry was a pioneer when publishers were evolving into the digital space,” writes Margo Bock, a consultant at Margo Bock Media Solutions. A pioneer, and a “godsend,” according to Joyce Byrne who, in 2019, worked with Dmitry on the Avenue Calgary websites and digital ads. “He’s a great communicator and an even better technology expert. He always delivered what he promised, and then some.”

Tanja Hutter, Online Manager for Canada’s History Society—who also worked with Beniaminov in 2019—refers to him as their “Google Guy.” He was originally brought on board for SEM, though Hutter quickly realized “there was no shortage of topics that we [could pick] his brain about: from above-the-clouds overall digital strategy down to in-the-weeds tweaking of ad execution.”

It seems many of Canada’s digital publishers have picked Beniaminov’s brain; he’s worked on projects for The Walrus, Running Magazine, Toronto Botanical Garden, Cycling Magazine, Avenue Calgary, Electric Autonomy, Canadaland, Outdoor Canada, Cottage Life, Canadian Living, Elle Canada, The Hockey News, Toronto Life, Fashion Magazine, Wedding Bells, and Quill and Quire. Outside of publishing, he’s consulted for the University of Toronto, Seneca, Ad-Server start-ups, and Autism Services portals. Beniaminov’s testimonials make clear why his client base is so wide-ranging. “He’s helpful, kind, positive and eager, and he never breaks a sweat, including and especially when those around him have every right to be freaking out,” says David Topping, Newsroom Director, Newsletters at Torstar. “In the two years I worked with him, I was consistently impressed at his ability to keep so much in his brain, and how generous he was with sharing it.”

This generosity extends to Beniaminov’s ongoing volunteerism. He contributes to organizations and community-based projects, which have included PEN Canada, the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, and the Movember Foundation. 

Those who nominated Beniaminov for this award were also quick to point out the impact of his work: “He has helped all of our sites grow from a small web presence to traffic of about two million monthly page views,” says Sam Cohen, Publisher at Gripped Publishing Inc. Bock echoes this: “He led us through all the digital opportunities that we could develop for the audience, and in turn, convert to advertising revenue. He had a keen understanding of what digital audiences want and how to monetize it, which was much needed to grow division revenue as print advertising was shifting to digital.”

It’s not just Beniaminov’s clients who recognize his talent—he is an award-winning creator, with accolades from IAB, the National Magazine Awards, and the Digital Publishing Awards. 

A pioneer, a godsend, a Google Guy—a clear leader in the field of Canadian digital publishing whose creativity and dedication is inspiring. For this, the National Media Awards Foundation is proud to present the Digital Publishing Leadership Award to Dmitry Beniaminov. Our sincerest congratulations, Dmitry! 

Enjoy Dmitry’s acceptance speech here:

Meet the 2019 Jury

The National Media Awards Foundation is excited to reveal our jury for the 2019 awards. Every year, more than 75 volunteers from the media and publishing industry lend their time and expertise to judge the Digital Publishing Awards. Many thanks to all of the talented people who joined our jury this year!

Elamin Abdelmahmoud is a social media editor for BuzzFeed Canada and editor, news curation with BuzzFeed News. He is a panelist and columnist for CBC News, and he writes a monthly column for Chatelaine. Elamin teaches journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Sadiya Ansari is a writer, editor and digital strategist. Her work—including essays, features, books reviews and news hits—has appeared in the Guardian, Chatelaine, Flare, Maclean’s, VICE, the Globe and Mail and more. She was an associate editor at Chatelaine, and has previously reported news and original investigations for the Toronto Star, produced TV for CBC News, edited opinion for HuffPost Canada, and covered arts for the Canadian Press. She’s currently the managing editor of features at Global News. 

Originally intent on a career in interior design, Line Atallah fell in love with the web and brought her creative eye to the digital world, first as a designer and creative director, then as a marketing strategist. From driving force for technology startups to subject matter expert for major lifestyle brands, Line has influenced and guided digital marketing success across a broad range of industries and media. With her extensive experience in digital publishing, Line has both a high-level strategic view and a detailed appreciation of production. Today, she is Vice-President, Marketing for Montreal AI technology provider Keatext.

James Baxter recently retired as editor and publisher of iPolitics, the news service he founded in 2010.  In more than three decades in journalism, he has been a sportswriter, political journalist, bureau chief and editorial writer. Prior to starting iPolitics, James was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University where he studied the role of a free press in democracy.  James holds degrees in international relations, journalism, and business administration. He lives in Ottawa with his wife, Sarah, three children and their very big dog. 

Après avoir contribué à la mise sur pied de Canoë, Karim Benessaieh a fait partie de l’équipe qui a fondé en 2000, à titre de rédacteur en chef adjoint. Comme journaliste à La Presse depuis 2002, il a couvert des campagnes électorales, des événements sportifs, la politique municipale puis, depuis août 2013 au sein de la section Affaires, les nouvelles technologies.

Chris Bond is a freelance art director and digital content specialist. He is the former Manager, Digital Platforms for English magazine brands at TVA Publications including Canadian Living,  Style at Home and ELLE Canada Chris has had the opportunity to work with development, digital and editorial content, sales and marketing teams to facilitate the creation, implementation and management of digital best practices, technical innovation, partnerships and strategy across all digital platforms. He spent the first 15 years of his career in the art department at Canadian Living magazine, art directing and designing the monthly magazine and numerous national best-selling cookbooks.

Claire Bouchard is a content strategist at La Presse, the first in the newspaper industry to succeed a true digital turn. She leads the conception and execution of all branded content media campaigns, with a strong focus on strategy. She also acts as the editor-in-chief of four magazines published in La Presse+ (SUITE, Habitat, Ambiance maison, 46-64). Prior to her work at La Presse, she worked for Groupe TVA as a web editor-in-chief, and in advertising. She is also the author of two books about Montréal.

Lise Boullard is a passionate lifestyle editor and writer with over a decade of experience. After completing a master’s degree in publishing from Simon Fraser University, Lise’s French roots drew her east where she served as associate editor of Reader’s Digest in Montreal. Back in Vancouver, Lise joined Glacier Media, where she spent three years living the good life—and writing about it—as managing editor of Vita and Vancouver Living magazines. Lise now works at the forefront of Canada’s digital publishing industry, crafting copy that appeals to both humans (and algorithms) as content manager of Glacier Media’s digital department. She also freelances regularly for the North Shore News and shares her lifestyle musings on her blog, The Editor’s Diary

Bruno Boutot is a consultant on digital media, based in Montreal. He is a former journalist and editor in chief. He is the author of Media Machina, an essay on business models for digital media. He runs @PlateauCom, an experiment on hyperlocal news.

Genna Buck

Genna Buck is a freelance journalist and editor in Toronto. She is a journalism instructor at Humber College and a former reporter and editor at Metro News Canada (later StarMetro). With designer Andrés Plana, she co-created Metro Science, an innovative science journalism and public education project. She was the NMA gold winner in 2015 for Best New Writer, and nominated the same year for the NMA in Investigative Reporting. 

Mark Burgess is the managing editor of Advisor’s Edge, a magazine for financial advisors. He was previously associate editor of strategy magazine and deputy editor of The Hill Times.

Kitra Cahana is a documentary photographer, filmmaker and TED speaker.  She has a B.A. in philosophy from McGill University and an M.A. in Visual and Media anthropology from the Freie Universitat in Berlin. Kitra is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Canadian Screen Award, two Canada Council Grants for the Visual Arts, a 2016 TED Senior Fellowship, the 2013 International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award, first prize for the 2010 World Press Photo, a scholarship at FABRICA in Italy and the Thomas Morgan internship at the New York Times. She is a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine.

Diplômée de HEC Montréal, Barbara-Judith Caron a fait ses premières armes en journalisme en remportant une place de jeune correspondante au concours Radiomonde de Radio-Canada. D’abord reporter en Amérique latine, elle a par la suite collaboré à plusieurs productions de la télé et de la radio publique dont La soirée est (encore) jeune, Medium Large, Bienvenue en 2067 et Infoman, à la fois en recherche, en idéation et en création de contenus. Elle est, aujourd’hui Directrice du contenu numérique chez URBANIA.

Manon Chevalier est journaliste indépendante en culture et style de vie pour de nombreuses publications, dont Elle Québec, Magazine Véro, Coup de pouce, CPA Magazine et Entracte. En 25 ans de métier, d’autres magazines et un quotidien ont fait appel également à son talent, qu’il s’agisse de Elle Québec, Premium – l’Intelligence en affaires, enRoute, Mariage Québec, Elle Belgique, BazzoMag, Tabaret, Les affaires, Commerce et Le Devoir, où elle a exercé les rôles de rédactrice en chef,  de directrice de la rédactionet de directrice de la rédaction adjointe, de même que de chroniqueuse culturelle et style de vie.

Jean-Philippe Cipriani est rédacteur en chef multiplateforme chez Radio-Canada. Il a été journaliste à Radio-Canada, chef de l’information numérique à la Presse canadienne et chef de l’information au HuffPost Québec.

Monica C. Corcoran

Monica C. Corcoran is an award-winning editorial director, community builder, and digital strategist with over 20 years experience in visual storytelling. She was most recently the founding director of Your Shot—National Geographic’s photo community—which grew to nearly 900 thousand members and over eight million images under her leadership. Prior to joining National Geographic, she spent 11 years at U.S. News & World Report magazine, where she started as an intern and left as the senior photo editor for the Money & Business section. 

Florent Daudens est directeur de l’information au Devoir. Il a auparavant œuvré à Radio-Canada, à La Presse, à et à divers magazines. Au fil de ses 10 ans d’expérience, il a constamment cherché de nouvelles façons de développer le journalisme Web et est fasciné par les possibilités infinies du numérique. Il est aussi chargé de cours à l’Université de Montréal, a siégé au conseil d’administration de la FPJQ et participé au groupe Hacks / Hackers de Montréal.

Julia De Laurentiis Johnson

Julia De Laurentiis Johnson has created podcasts for Maclean’s, Shameless and the eOne podcasting network. Having worked at Shameless magazine for more than a decade in various roles, including running the Shameless Podcast Camp for teen girls and trans youth, she currently serves as a board member.  Julia won the first DPA for Best Podcast Series for the Maclean’s culture podcast, The Thrill, which she co-produced/co-hosted.

Amanda De Souza

Amanda De Souza is a video producer at HuffPost Canada where she produces videos and shows for news, politics, business and blogs. She previously worked in broadcast for CTV News Kitchener, Canada AM and for Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium.She has also worked in branded content and podcast production. She holds a master’s of Journalism from Ryerson University and is a member of the Ryerson Journalism Alumni Association. 

Éric Desrosiers est journaliste au Devoir depuis 1998. Il s’est joint à la section économie en 2001. Outre l’actualité, il s’intéresse notamment aux impacts économiques, politiques et sociaux de grands phénomènes tels que la mondialisation, l’ascension des économies émergentes, les défis du développement durable, les nouvelles technologies et le choc démographique. Politologue de formation, il est passé par l’Université Laval (baccalauréat), l’Université McGill (maîtrise) et l’Université de Montréal (doctorat). En 2016, il a reçu le Prix d’excellence en journalisme économique et financier québécois.

Journaliste indépendant depuis plus de 15 ans, Simon Diotte est rédacteur en chef du magazine Géo Plein Air et collaborateur régulier aux magazines L’actualité, Nature sauvage, RandoQuébec et Châtelaine. 

Gillian Dobias produces editorial and commercial films for brands and media specialising in architecture, design, culture and hospitality. She brings 20 years of professional experience, working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC and most recently Monocle where, as Executive Producer, she was responsible for all editorial and advertorial film production for its first decade.  Today Gillian produces films for a range of clients across television and digital channels, combining her journalistic and brand experience to deliver powerful stories with a memorable message.

Christian Duperron

Christian Duperron has been appointed director of news at HuffPost Quebec last October, having first joined the team in 2013. He previously held various positions with the Montreal Metro newspaper, including director of interactive platforms, director of information and web editor.

Daniel Ehrenworth was born in Ottawa and received his BFA in photography studies from Ryerson University.  In addition to commercial photography, Daniel is a gallery artist, dad, video director, ex-food blogger, Muppet fan, and jube jube aficionado.  His commercial and editorial clients include Bloomberg, Businessweek, Canada Goose, The Fader, Ford, Google, Hyundai, Kia, Maynard’s, Sick Kids Hospital, Sport Check, Target, Tim Horton’s and The Verge to name a few.  He has received numerous awards for his commercial work from the ADCC, American Photo, Applied Arts, Communication Arts, the D&AD, Luerzer’s Archive, and the National Magazine Awards.

Katie Engelhart is a reporter and documentary film producer at NBC News, based in New York City, and a Fellow at New America. Previously, she worked as a correspondent for VICE News. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her reporting, including the Canada National Magazine Award.

Brodie Fenlon is a professor of journalism at Centennial College in Toronto. He was previously the Senior Director of Daily News & Bureaus for the CBC. He began his career as a newspaper reporter and moved into digital journalism at The Globe and Mail in 2007. In 2011, he helped launch The Huffington Post Canada. Brodie joined the CBC in 2013 and was awarded the 2018 Digital Publishing Leadership Award from the National Media Awards Foundation.

Matt Frehner leads the Visual Journalism team at The Globe and Mail. The award-winning group of editors, designers, developers, photographers, videographers and graphic artists works to make sense of a complicated and fast-moving world through high-impact visual journalism. 

Chris Frey is a partner at No Media Company, an editorial, research and creative studio, and the Toronto correspondent for Monocle magazine. A seven-time winner at the National Magazine Awards, Chris is formerly the founding editorial director of Hazlitt, and has contributed to the Guardian, the Globe and Mail, The Walrus, CBC Radio, Kinfolk, Maisonneuve and Azure.

Bien qu’elle ait des études de cinéma en poche, c’est avec la radio qu’Élodie Gagnon tombe en amour alors qu’elle fait ses débuts derrière le micro de la radio étudiante CISM. Repérée par Radio-Canada, elle apprend les rudiments de la création radiophonique à travers la réalisation de reportages sur des enjeux sociaux et culturels. Elle enchaîne pendant 12 ans les rôles d’animatrice, de reporter, de réalisatrice et de chroniqueuse pour les différentes chaînes radiophoniques de Radio-Canada/CBC. Après plus d’une décennie dans le service public, Élodie fait le saut au secteur privé comme productrice de l’Aquarium, la radio en direct de C2 déployée dans les conférences internationales de commerce et créativité, ainsi que du C2 Podcast, une série qui met en vedette les solutions des leaders les plus innovants de la planète face aux plus grandes problématiques de notre époque. Élodie est aujourd’hui la directrice de la division podcast de la compagnie de production Blimp, dont le siège social est à Montréal.

Bruce Gillespie

Bruce Gillespie is an associate professor in and coordinator of the Digital Media and Journalism program at Wilfrid Laurier University. He also the author of News Writing and Reporting: An Introduction to Skills and Theory, published by Oxford University Press in 2018, and has edited three anthologies of personal essays: A Family by Any Other Name, Somebody’s Child and Nobody’s Father.

Gillian Grace is the senior digital managing editor at Chatelaine. She was previously a digital news editor at the National Post and a senior editor at Toronto Life.

Melissa Greer

Melissa Greer is the digital editor of where she manages website content, newsletter strategy and the brand’s social presence. After graduating from the post-graduate journalism program at Humber College, she began her journalism career in print before a quick pivot to digital media. She specializes in health and wellness journalism but is happy to write about beauty, parenting, and just about any other lifestyle topic. She’s also a freelance writer and brand consultant. 

Daphnée Hacker-B. est reporter-vidéo pour l’équipe numérique du Journal de Montréal. Elle couvre principalement les enjeux de mobilité, de transport, d’urbanisme et d’aménagement du territoire. Mais en réalité, tous les sujets l’intéressent! Dans le passé, elle a travaillé au Huffington Post, au journal Le Devoir ainsi qu’au journal Métro

Mathew Ingram is an award-winning journalist who has spent the past two decades writing about business, technology and new media as well as advising media companies on digital strategy. He is currently the chief digital writer for the Columbia Journalism Review, and prior to that he was a senior writer with Fortune magazine. Prior to joining Fortune, Mathew spent 15 years as a reporter and columnist at the Globe. Mathew’s writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the New Zealand Herald, and he has advised media outlets such as the Toronto Star, Post Media and the CBC on their digital strategy.

Malcolm Johnston is a features editor at Toronto Life.

Pierre Kattar

Pierre Kattar is a video journalist and documentary filmmaker. He started at The Washington Post’s website in 1999, where he produced video news stories and short documentaries. He left the Post in 2010 and now works as an independent filmmaker. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, he grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Kattar graduated from DePaul University with an International Studies degree focusing on gender, power and race. He now lives in Rome, Italy.  

Brian Kaufman is the founding editor of subTerrain Magazine and the Publisher at Anvil Press Book Publishers. He has been active in the writing and publishing community for thirty years.

Caitlin Kenny is the digital director at The Kit, where she oversees the brand’s award-winning online platforms. After a joint degree in journalism from the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College, her career began in the print world with seven years in FLARE’s beauty department. As magazine brands began to embrace the web, Caitlin became increasingly enamoured by the way stories come to life online and switched over to the digital world. Her writing has also appeared in Hello! Canada, Glow, Cosmetics, Beautezine, the Toronto Star and the Ottawa Citizen.

Independent filmmaker Helene Klodawsky is a passionate storyteller committed to portraying political and social struggles, as well as to exploring the documentary art form. Her work, spanning over thirty-five years, is screened, discussed and televised around the world in venues as diverse as New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Kenyan refugee camps.  Through her films, compelling reflections on gender, justice and conflict are shared worldwide. A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Klodawsky is on the board of Doc Quebec—part of the Doc Organization of Canada—and a member of the Writer’s Guild of Canada, and Réalisatrices Équitables.

Aaron Kylie

Canadian Geographic editor-in-chief Aaron Kylie is an awarding-winning writer/editor/manager of national magazines. He was previously publications manager at the Canadian Wildlife Federation, where he oversaw Canadian Wildlife, Biosphere and Wild magazines, and prior to that, the long-time managing editor at Outdoor Canada magazine. 

Emily Landau is a senior editor at Toronto Life, where she handles features. She has written for Toronto Life, GQ, Esquire, The Walrus and Hazlitt.

Émilie Larivée-Tourangeau

Émilie Larivée-Tourangeau is a digital content advisor for Radio-Canada’s Digital Media team. She started her career in 2008 in the public broadcaster’s newsroom, where she then served as assistant director, writer, researcher and online editor. In 2014, she became the deputy director general for the Quebec Federation of Professional Journalists, the country’s largest association devoted to the defence of press freedom. Early in 2017, she joined VICE Quebec as associate editor and in April 2018, she returned to Radio-Canada to share her expertise in the art of online storytelling.

Kim Latreille

Kim Latreille has spent the majority of her career in the bloody bowels of print publishing and media. While serving as a director for some of Canada’s largest magazine publishers, including Rogers Publishing, Cottage Life Media, and St. Joseph Media, her teams delivered award-winning magazine content across multiple platforms, web applications, mobile devices, and in print. Kim teaches magazine publishing part-time at Ryerson University, and is currently the publisher of Femke Magazine.

Andree Lau is the editor-in-chief of HuffPost Canada after serving as managing editor of news. She helped launch HuffPost B.C. in 2012 and later also managed HuffPost Alberta. Lau previously worked for CBC News as a TV reporter, videojournalist, writer/producer, and online editor in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Regina, and New Brunswick.

Leata Lekushoff is an award-winning writer, editor and content creator with 15 years experience in publishing and corporate communications. She was most recently the Senior Editor at Professionally Speaking/Pour parler profession magazine. During that time, dozens of contributors were nominated as well as rewarded for their work under her direction, both at national and international levels. Leata began her career in film and TV, and has a background in photography. She is proud to be part of the jury for the 2019 Digital Publishing Awards for Best Online Video (Mini-Doc).

Guy Leshinski is an award-winning editor and writer with two decades’ experience crafting content for clients online, in print, as well as for social and cross-channel campaigns. A graduate of Ryerson University (B.A.A., Magazine Journalism) and Humber College (Honours Certificate), I’m a strategic thinker with a knack for creative and compelling storytelling. My work has won multiple awards in the field of custom content and my writing has been featured in consumer publications, including Toronto Life, the Globe and Mail, CBC and elsewhere. I conduct writing and editing seminars for journalists and other professionals. I am also a published cartoonist and illustrator.

Dan Levy

Dan Levy is a Montreal-based writer, editor and content strategist. Since earning a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University, he has navigated the fascinating waters of media think tanks, global marketing agencies and fast-growing tech startups. He was the founding editor of the award-winning online magazine Sparksheet and currently serves as editorial director at Smooch. 

Jacqueline Loch is a communications and media executive specializing in delivering multi-platform content marketing solutions and ROI for audiences and advertisers across print, digital, broadcast and social media. With over 25 years of experience gained at some of Canada’s largest media companies, she works closely with St. Joseph’s largest clients to create innovative and compelling cross platform content solutions. A recognized leader in content strategy and innovation, Jacquie is Chair of the board of The Content Council in New York and a frequent speaker on branded content solutions across Canada and internationally.

Journaliste indépendante, Anne-Marie Luca collabore à plusieurs publications, dont L’actualité, Nouveau Projet et Les Affaires. Son reportage « les exilés de l’enfer », publié dans L’actualité, lui a valu en 2017 le prix du meilleur article de fond aux Prix du magazine canadien.

Dan Lytwyn is a video journalist at BBC News in Toronto. He previously worked as a video producer and studio lead at HuffPost Canada.

Catherine Marineau-Dufresne is a video director and producer. Her career has lead her to touch on all facets of modern journalism: from radio, to digital, to television. She began her career at CBC/Radio-Canada, traveling the country for 5 years, first as a video-journalist, then as a journalist and a radio news anchor. She then specialized in video content production at L’Actualité magazine where she was a journalist, director and video production manager for 2 years, before joining the Montreal office of VICE, where she was in charge of developing and producing video content covering Quebec culture. Her work was awarded the Lizette-Gervais Award for Best Video Report, and she was nominated for both the Gémeaux Awards and the Numix Awards with VICE.

Adrienne Mason

Adrienne Mason is the managing editor of Hakai Magazine, a digital publication that focuses on science and society in coastal ecosystems. Prior to starting at Hakai she helped launch KNOW, a science magazine for children and was its managing editor for six years. Adrienne also writes about science, nature, and history, and has published over 30 books, the most recent on Long Beach, one of western Canada’s favourite destinations.

Josianne Massé

For more than a decade, Josianne Massé has been in the media industry, earning the title of “slasher” with multiple talents: web editor, proven social media manager, blogger and writer. Josianne is above all a journalist passionate about education, cinema and society issues. A leading woman, she is also an entrepreneur who founded and supported for two years an extraordinary publication that redefined the notion of women’s magazine. 

Lauren McKeon is a national award-winning editor and writer. She is the current digital editor at The Walrus and the former editor of This Magazine, as well as a contributing editor at Toronto Life. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including the Walrus, Hazlitt, Flare, Reader’s Digest, and Best Canadian Essays 2017. Her first book, F-Bomb: Dispatches from the War on Feminism, is out now. In addition to writing and editing, she has also taught long-form journalism at Humber College. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non-Fiction from the University of King’s College.

Aya McMillan is an award-winning writer and style expert with over 15 years experience in print and online publishing. Born and based in Toronto, she’s held senior editorial positions at Weddingbells, FLARE, and Mode Media, and her work has appeared in a diverse range of media titles including Fashion, Elle Canada, 29Secrets, The Kit, Canadian Business, Vogue Nippon, WWD and The Globe and Mail. She currently works as a digital marketing consultant conceptualizing integrated content strategies and building social media programs for brands across the retail, luxury, and lifestyle sectors.

Jamie Monastyrski

Jamie Monastyrski is an expert in the Indigenous communications and media industry serving over 25 years as an editor, journalist and communications professional. He was editor of Aboriginal Voices Magazine, a reporter with the U.S National newspaper Indian Country Today, the editor and co-founder of SPIRIT Magazine and currently publishes magazines for various Indigenous organizations such as the Chiefs of Ontario and the Assembly of First Nations.

Christa Morrison is a Journalism (New Media) educator and award-winning multimedia storyteller. She works as Digital Pedagogy Specialist at the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching at McMaster University. In this role, Christa provides technological and pedagogical support to educators and learners to enhance learning in face-to-face, digital and hybrid learning spaces. She acts as consultant on projects focusing on innovation, digital fluency, digital storytelling, and the development of new generation social-collaborative learning environments.

Susan Nerberg

A self-described geek, Susan Nerberg is an award-winning freelance journalist with a keen interest in science and the environment, design and architecture, adventure and the great outdoors. She has been a writer and editor for nearly two decades, crafting narrative stories and editorial packages for some of Canada’s leading national magazines. When she’s not out exploring, she writes for Canadian GeographicAzureNational Geographic TravelerReport on Business magazine, Cottage Life and enRoute, among others.

Jen O’Brien is an award-winning digital editor and writer with more than a decade of experience managing some of Canada’s top lifestyle websites. She is currently executive digital editor at and prior to that she helmed the online content strategy at as senior digital editor. Jen’s work has been published in a variety of magazines, newspapers and on websites across Canada including,,, Outpost, glow and The Coast.

Laura Osborne, formerly editor-in-chief of the award-winning RICARDO magazine, is a contributing editor at RICARDO. Before joining the RICARDO team, Laura worked at Spafax where she served as the Senior Editor of Air Canada’s enRoute magazine, among other publications. Her first editorial gig was as an intern at Maisonneuve magazine.

As a geographer-cum-journalist Jean-François Parent has been covering the financial, securities litigation, business, natural resources and investment sectors for 15 years as both staff and freelance feature writer. Eventually drifted into business intelligence and data journalism—generating story ideas from data analysis. Now doing contract work (editing/feature writing/content marketing) with law firms, financial institutions, public companies, government agencies and lobby groups/think tanks. He is also a guest lecturer in journalism and an upright bass player.

Tina Pittaway is an independent journalist, strategist and content creator with more than 20 years of experience. She has worked extensively in television, radio, online, magazine and podcast production.

When she’s not out gallivanting in nature Katrina Pyne is a video editor and producer with the Hakai Institute and Hakai Magazine in Victoria, British Columbia, where she produces science communications and natural history content.  She comes from a background in journalism and has produced media content for a variety of publications from coast to coast.

Journaliste indépendante, Clémence Risler jongle avec les idées et les mots depuis près de 20 ans. Elle signe des articles dans plusieurs journaux et magazines québécois, se consacrant à une vaste palette de sujets. De la cuisine à la santé, en passant par la culture et les enjeux sociaux, tout allume son insatiable curiosité.

Alex Roslin is an award-winning journalist who was president of the board of the Canadian Centre for Investigative Reporting. His book “Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Domestic Violence” has been nominated for eight awards, including nominations in the Reader’s Favorite International Book Awards, the American Book Fest’s Best Book Awards and the Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing. He is also co-winner of the Arlene Book Award of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and has won three Canadian Association of Journalists prizes for investigative reporting. He has worked as an associate producer for the CBC’s The Fifth Estate and written for many Canadian and U.S. magazines and newspapers.

Mathilde Roy

Mathilde Roy is a reporter at Protégez-Vous magazine, where she covers health and food. Prior to joining Protégez-Vous, she worked as a web journalist at L’actualité. Mathilde has a degree in journalism and a master’s in political science. She lives in Montreal. 

Harley Rustad

Harley Rustad is a features editor and writer at The Walrus magazine whose work has appeared in publications including Outside, the Globe and Mail, and Geographical. He is the author of Big Lonely Doug: the story of one of Canada’s last great trees.

Jen Schlumberger

Jen Schlumberger is an ideas-driven creator who works as a digital producer at CBC in their marketing and communications department. She’s also a freelance writer and has contributed to various parenting publications: Today’s Parent, Yummy Mummy Club, CBC Parents, and Parents Canada. She’s passionate about connecting with audiences, storytelling, and eating cereal. She’s also a professionally trained improviser (Second City), and proud mother of two (professional status pending). 

Nael Shiab

Nael Shiab is a data reporter for CBC/Radio-Canada, in Montreal. His coding skills allow him to produce exclusive stories, with immersive data visualizations and web apps. His ultimate goal is to build an army of bots that would work for him, so he’ll be able to listen to podcasts and drink coffee all day.

Taylor Shute is a Toronto based Art Director with over a decade of experience working with a number of acclaimed publications and brands such as Toronto Star, Maclean’s, Cottage Life, Eye Weekly, and more. He currently leads creative and content at Toronto integrated marketing agency, YBIMC.

Chris Skinner is a digital strategy consultant with more than 12 years in media. Chris was previously head of digital for, Vice President, Digital at Anthem Sports & Entertainment and held several leadership roles at St. Joseph Media. He has been fortunate to have worked with some of the best in the industry, winning several Canadian Screen Awards and Canadian Online Publishing Awards along the way.

Joyce Smith is an Associate Professor with Ryerson’s School of Journalism, where since 2001 she has taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses. She is currently director of the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre, and continues to investigate the representation of religion in mainstream media.

Currently a freelance writer, Howard Solomon is the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, he’s written for several of ITWC’s sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that he was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald for 11 years and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times for five years.

Carmine Starnino is the deputy editor of The Walrus.

Hannah Sung is the manager of digital video and podcasts at TVO in Toronto. Her role is to strategically grow video and podcast content that incorporates TVO’s overall learning mandate and commitment to civic engagement. Previously, she created award-winning video and podcast content at the Globe and Mail. Hannah began her career at MuchMusic as their pop culture reporter and has been a producer and columnist for the Toronto Star, CBC and FLARE. She is committed to diversity and inclusion in media. She lives with her partner and two children in Toronto.

David Topping

David Topping is the director of newsletters for all of Torstar’s editorial titles, including the Toronto Star. In his career in Canadian media, largely in digital leadership roles, he’s worked at everything from flush start-ups to poor but punchy up-and-comers, and his work has been regularly recognized as the best of its kind in the country, including at the National Magazine Awards, where he’s won five.

Florence Turpault-Desroches est Directrice principale de l’information à La Presse, le plus grand média francophone en Amérique du Nord, avec plus de trois millions de visiteurs uniques par mois. Elle a commencé sa carrière en 2008 comme journaliste au pupitre web pour, après avoir passé une année comme correspondante pigiste en Chine pour divers médias. En 2013, elle participe à la création de la section Pause, qui regroupe les sujets de type magazine, et au lancement de la plateforme pour tablette La Presse+, à titre de chef d’équipe. Elle devient ensuite directrice de la section Pause, puis directrice de la section Actualités, avant d’être nommée directrice principale de l’information en janvier 2018.

Jes Watson is a writer, editor and digital strategist based in Toronto. With over 15 years working in both publishing and digital media, her focus is combining disciplines to create compelling stories for digital and social platforms.  Prior to working at Juliet Creative, she was the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Living magazineand Executive Producer of Digital at Corus Entertainment. 

Fadi Yaacoub is currently the executive creative director, visuals and digital design of the Toronto Star. He is an experienced digital and creative leader in content creation and visual storytelling, with a track record of success in establishing design departments, building news apps, branding television networks, designing primetime newscasts and brand identities at the largest Canadian media corporations. His main area of expertise is on the intersection between editorial, managerial, branding, product and design sectors.

Kenny Yum is a long-time digital journalist, working in leadership roles at major news organizations for the past 18 years. He is currently the chief of staff at CBC News. For six years, he was Editor in Chief at HuffPost Canada and was managing editor at AOL Canada, where he also oversaw AOL’s Canadian operated brands such as Moviefone, Autoblog and StyleList.

The Gold and Silver medals were presented to winners on May 29th, at the 4th annual Digital Publishing Awards Soirée. Gold winners in individual categories each received a $500 cheque. Here’s the full list of 2019 DPA winners.

Photos from the event can be found on our Facebook page.

Interested in judging for the 2020 Digital Publishing Awards? Send an email to

Announcing the Winners of the 2019 Digital Publishing Awards

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 4th annual Digital Publishing Awards, which were revealed at this evening’s Soiree. The DPA soiree saw Gold and Silver winners presented in 23 various categories, with Gold winners in individual categories each receiving a $500 cheque. Host Eternity Martis opened the soiree by reminding the attendees that the night was about celebrating every story nominated, as big as Mount Everest and as small as SugarBearHair vitamins, and all of the creators who made those stories possible.


The General Excellence awards were presented in three divisions: small, medium, and large.

In the small division, The Sprawl took Gold. Judges referred to this publication as refreshing and embracing the spirit of digital to convey an unwavering focus. They also cited the satisfying mobile experience and smart audio.

Maclean’s was the Gold winner in the medium division,  judges noting that its video offerings and off-platform social media initiatives helped it stand out among the other contenders.

The large division Gold-winner was CBC News, which—according to the judging panel—displayed exemplary design and innovation in its special projects and multimedia offerings to engage its digital audience. Its digital content shows a deliberate process that complements its journalism.


This year, women dominated both the Leadership Award and the Emerging Excellence category: Kathy Vey (TVO, Executive Producer of Digital) is the first woman to receive the award, and all three of the Emerging Excellence nominees were women.

Craig Silverman of Buzzfeed introduced Kathy Vey, describing her, and her work, as “the quiet force behind some of the most remarkable and ambitious data journalism and local journalism initiates in Canada over the past decade.”

Sofia Misenheimer of Art/iculation was the recipient of the prestigious Emerging Excellence award. When discussing the merits of the applicants, the jury had this to say of Sofia: “She is a driven individual who is only going to continue to make a positive impact through her work in the digital media landscape.”


This year, a number of first-time nominated publications won their first Gold and Silver awards, including Art/iculation in Emerging Excellence (Sofia Misenheimer), Magazine web 100 degrés (Marianne Boire, François Grenier, and Françoise Ruby) who won Gold for “Réimaginer nos aménagements,” and SooToday (David Helwig) who won Silver for “Bankruptcy protection for Sault’s main employer sparks fight over port.” The latter two  wins took place in the Best News Coverage (Small Newsroom) category.

Air Canada enRoute’s “Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2018” is a four-time Best Digital Editorial Package nominee, this year winning Silver.

In rural New Brunswick, a transgender woman charts a new path” won Gold in two categories: Best Online Video: Feature and Best Feature Article: Short. Congratulations to all of the creators who worked on the piece.

Digital storytellers from Hakai Magazine took home Gold in Best Science and Technology Storytelling (for “The Noose Beneath the Waves” by Sasha Chapman) and Silver in Best Arts & Culture Storytelling (for “The Oracle of Oyster River” by Brian Payton).

VICE swept the Best Online Video: Mini-Doc category: VICE Québec won Gold for “Souldia : à double tranchant” while VICE Canada took home Silver for “Fear and Loading: Meet the NRA’s Most Wanted Customer.”

Here’s the full list of publications that won Gold or Silver at the 2019 DPAs:

2019 Digital Publishing Awards Results

Best News Coverage

Hustle in the oil patch: Inside a looming financial and environmental crisis
Jeff Lewis, Jeffrey Jones, Chen Wang, Renata D’Aliesio, Christopher Manza, Matthew French, John Sopinski, Murat Yükselir, Melissa Tait, Todd Korol, Brennan Higginbotham, Theresa Suzuki
The Globe and Mail

Fentanyl: Making a killing
Sam Cooper, Andrew Russell, Stewart Bell, Brent Rose, Carolyn Jarvis, Ben Jonah,  James Armstrong, Online Video team, Network News Desk, Global News Graphics Department, Global News Copy Desk, Global News Social Desk
Global News

Best News Coverage (Small Newsroom)

Réimaginer nos aménagements
Marianne Boire, François Grenier, Françoise Ruby
Magazine web 100 degrés

Bankruptcy protection for Sault’s main employer sparks fight over port
David Helwig

Best Personal Essay

I wanted an abortion in Nova Scotia, but all around, barriers still remained
Jessica Leeder, Winnie T. Frick, Bryan Gee, Lisan Jutras
The Globe and Mail

The Waiting Room
Christian Allaire

Best Column

Peter Knegt
CBC Arts

Dorothy Woodend, culture columnist
Dorothy Woodend
The Tyee

Best Feature Article: Short

In rural New Brunswick, a transgender woman charts a new path
Lindsay Jones, Matt Brown, Timothy Moore, Scott Munn
The Globe and Mail

The Water Carriers
Alannah Campbell, Karen Levine, Pauline Holdsworth, Ruby Buiza, Andre Mayer, Lakshine Sathiyanathan
CBC Radio – The Sunday Edition

Best Digital Editorial Package

Sex Ed: Beyond the Classroom
Lauren McKeon, Natalie Vineberg, Judy Ziyi Gu, Viviane Fairbank, Samia Madwar, Angela Misri, Dmitry Beniaminov, Sharon Nadeem, Jackson Weaver, Tajja Isen, Danielle Kinahan, Sebastian Leck, Amy van den Berg, Daina Goldfinger, Allison Baker, Sydney Hamilton, Seila Rizvic, Daniel Viola, Erin Sylvester, Anna Fitzpatrick, Lauren Vogel, Erica Lenti, Yasir Khan, Lindsay Nixon, Sue Carter, Eliza Robertson, Anubha Momin, Kate Sloan
The Walrus

Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2018
Gabrielle Simpson, Stephanie Mercier-Voyer, Yvonne Miou, Stefanie Sosiak, Danielle Groen, Sarah Musgrave, Nancy Matsumoto
Air Canada enRoute

Best Feature Article: Long

Murder on the Prairies
Jana Pruden, Laura Blenkinsop, Danielle Webb, Chris Manza, Victor Dwyer
The Globe and Mail

The Road
Stephanie Nolen, Aaron Vincent Elkaim, Laura Blenkinsop, Christopher Manza, Angela Murphy, Rachel Wine
The Globe and Mail


The Shadows
Kaitlin Prest, CBC Podcasts, Phoebe Wang, Sharon Mashihi, Shani Aviram, Yasmine Mathurin, Olivia Pasquarelli, Adriana Komura, Marina Lee Koslock
CBC Podcasts

Best Service Feature

Hidden Canada
Maryam Siddiqi, Christopher Manza, Rachel Wine, Benjamin MacDonald, Alanna Cavanagh
The Globe and Mail

Back to the land
Andre Mayer, Dave Pizer, Evan Mitsui
CBC News

Best Science and Technology Storytelling

The Noose Beneath the Waves
Sasha Chapman, Shanna Baker
Hakai Magazine

The million-dollar drug
Kelly Crowe, Dave Pizer, Craig Chivers
CBC News

Best Online Video: Short

The truth about SugarBearHair vitamins
Roxanna Woloshyn, Anne MacRae, Charlsie Agro, Stephanie Dudley, Dave MacIntosh
CBC News

Mums who scrum
Melissa Tait
The Globe and Mail

Best Arts & Culture Storytelling

Alex Janvier’s colourful life  
Marty Klinkenberg, Amber Bracken
The Globe and Mail

The Oracle of Oyster River
Brian Payton
Hakai Magazine

Best Online Video: Feature

In rural New Brunswick, a transgender woman charts a new path
Scott Munn, Lindsay Jones, Matt Brown, Michael Belyea, Timothy Moore
The Globe and Mail

We the North Grandma
Donnovan Bennett, Graham Runciman, Maggie Naylor, Scott Simpson

Best Online Video: Mini-Doc

Souldia : à double tranchant
Simon Coutu, Jean-Pierre Bastien, Zacharie Fay, David Valiquette, William Gignac, Maude M. Ouellet
VICE (Québec)

Fear and Loading: Meet the NRA’s Most Wanted Customer
Sofi Langis, Manisha Krishnan, Spencer Chumbley, Danny Patterson, Taylor Rivers, Heidi Besner
VICE Canada

Best Podcast


Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo
Connie Walker, Marnie Luke, Jennifer Fowler, Mieke Anderson, Heather Evans
CBC News

Love Me
Mira Burt-Wintonick, Cristal Duhaime, Sarah Geis
CBC Podcasts

Best Digital Design

On a redessiné le Québec
Marc Lajoie, Melanie Julien, Mélanie Meloche-Holubowski, Santiago Salcido, Martine Roy


Best Photo Storytelling

Living in limbo
Renaud Philippe, Jeremy Agius, Matt French, Theresa Suzuki, Patrick Dell, Michelle Zilio, Carol Toller, Carine Abouseif, Tu Thanh Ha
The Globe and Mail

Proms from coast to coast
Ming Wong, Jeremy Agius, Theresa Suzuki, Melissa Tait, Jackie Dives, Darren Calabrese, Todd Korol, Caroline Alphonso
The Globe and Mail

Best Social Storytelling

As It Happens 50th anniversary animations
Ben Shannon, Kate Swoger, Sheena Goodyear
CBC Radio – As It Happens

Weed did it.
Sasha Kalra, Daman Lamba, Jill Krajewski, Laura Lloyd, Kate McKerroll, Tyler Hughes, Victoria Pandeirada
VICE Canada

Best Editorial Newsletter

What on Earth?
Emily Chung, Andre Mayer, Nicole Mortillaro
CBC News

Le courrier électoral
Geneviève Tremblay, Stéphane Baillargeon, Cédric Gagnon, Jean-Philippe Corbeil, Simon Poirier
Le Devoir

Innovation in Digital Storytelling


Olympics interactive graphics
Timothy Moore, Christopher Manza, Trish McAlaster
The Globe and Mail

Forever Changed
William Wolfe-Wylie, Dwight Friesen, Richard Grasley, Sannah Choi, Kate Cornick, Farrah Merali, Andre Mayer, Paul Borkwood, David Donnelly, Albert Leung, Martin Trainor
CBC News

Emerging Excellence

Sofia Misenheimer

General Excellence in Digital Publishing

The Sprawl (Small Publication) 
Maclean’s (Medium Publication)
CBC News (Large Publication)


The National Media Awards Foundation is incredibly grateful for the support of: the Government of Canada, the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Creates, Reader’s Digest Foundation, and KCK Global. We are also thankful for the support of Cision, Magazines Canada, PUSH Media, Very Good Studios and Vividata.

Our sincerest thanks to this year’s judges, who graciously volunteered their time and expertise, evaluating the hundreds of entries submitted to this year’s competition.

Next year’s call for entries will open in January. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Interview Series: Shauna Rempel of Global News

In October 2017, the Global News investigation Canada’s Toxic Secret shone a light on pollution in Sarnia, Ontario. The city and its surrounding region, including the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, is popularly known as Chemical Valley due to its high concentration of petrochemical facilities. Global News investigated how recent chemical leaks and spills may be contributing to illness among local residents.

The impactful project lead to funding for a new health study on the impacts of air pollution in the Sarnia region. It’s also received many awards, including the Gold award for Best Social Storytelling at the 2018 Digital Publishing Awards.

With content shared across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Medium, Canada’s Toxic Secret was able to reach a wide audience of Canadians. We spoke to Global News’ Shauna Rempel about the important role of social media in the investigation.

A Global News image used to promote the Toxic Secret project on Facebook.

I was curious to hear about the social media perspective behind the project, since you won the DPA award for Best Social Storytelling. Can you tell me about your role working on social?

I’m the national managing editor for social media and distribution, so I’m taking a look at it from more of a management perspective. I’m the editor for a lot of these things, but also assigning them to people on my team or attending the meetings for some of these bigger projects—attending the meetings and representing the social media team to give feedback as to how we want to approach it.

I was in months and months of meetings. This was quite a lengthy investigation and it involved not just Global News; it was a co-production with students from Ryerson and Concordia journalism schools, and of course the Toronto Star and a few other organizations.

Pretty much everyone on my team had some sort of part in the project, whether helping to create some of the graphics that went out on social media, or captioning the videos or distributing the videos, or adding to a Twitter thread, or moderating some of the comments and checking out the feedback that we were getting from the audience. It was a real group effort.

About how long did the project take to create?

The investigation was months in the making. On the social desk you tend to be involved more in the later stages of things. But Carolyn Jarvis, who was the lead journalist on this whole project, she’s very good at getting everyone involved. So I was getting regular updates from her.

But it was more in September that things started to really ramp up and we looked at all the elements—and there was a lot of video, a lot of images, just a lot of material to go through, and figure out what was going to work for what platform. We did it in three stages. That was the first time we did it in this way, and it’s actually become the template for all of our big rollouts for our big projects. All of our social rollouts now have some version of this template.

We did a pre-social treatment to try and get people excited and interested in it. And then when all the elements were coming out, different stories, different aspects of it, we were sharing it and sometimes re-sharing it the day it was published. Then afterwards we were doing more of a look back. It was being discussed by politicians; there was some fallout from it. So that provided opportunities to not only share the latest elements, but to say, “Now this has happened, as a result of this investigation.” To also share, “In case you missed it, here’s the full documentary again, here’s our main post about it.”

I was curious about the response you saw on social media after the initial push.

There was a lot of discussion amongst the opposition party, and Ontario’s environmental watchdog, who had condemned the fact that there was this population living so close to these known polluters and nothing seemed to be happening. It did lead to, in the aftermath, proposals for new standards to control air pollution. And we did a follow-up, about a year later. Some things had changed, but actually not a whole lot, in a year’s time since we did the initial investigation.

What kind of responses did you get from members of the public?

We had a lot of people discussing it, coming out in one way or another. There was a lot of sympathy amongst the viewers, I think, especially those who were watching the videos. We got messages to that effect. Some of it was people wondering why people were living in that area in the first place, and that started a good conversation, because then you would actually have other people weighing in on, well, maybe they grew up there, that sort of thing. Or, why shouldn’t they live there?

There was a good discussion in that regard, which is what we want. We want a talker. We like it when there’s actually more of a nuanced discussion instead of everyone sort of having a straightforward answer to it. We had over a million, 1.3 million views on the videos that we posted to Facebook, so that was a good indicator to us, too, that people were watching, that they were consuming it on social media.

People were weighing in and talking about pollution where they lived, and their concerns, as well. Folks were either sharing their own stories or comparing it; saying that they too had concerns about pollution, or they were happy to be living somewhere where things were better monitored.

We want this to be something that people can relate to. The videos, the images that we chose—we really wanted this to be something that people could relate to. The idea that someone’s young son got cancer and died after a very short battle with cancer, that’s something that goes beyond any particular city. That’s a universal experience that people could relate to, just the grief of losing a child so suddenly to cancer. That’s the sort of thing we’re trying to tap into, really tapping into the universal themes and the emotion behind it; while also, of course, we’re presenting the facts.

It was a lengthy investigation and there was lots and lots of information. But when sharing it with a social audience you really want to make sure you’re getting the attention, not just with facts and figures but also with people, with human emotion and human experience.

What sort of considerations you have to take into account—if you’re making this for broadcast, how will it work if you’re putting part of it on Facebook, or putting it on YouTube? Is that something that comes into play during the production?

For the documentary itself, it was really more with broadcast in mind. It was more when we were doing the shorter clips that we were really thinking about which ones would work best for a social audience. Our YouTube channel is quite strong, but we weren’t completely sure how many views we would be getting on YouTube. So I think the primary focus for that element was going to be for broadcast first and then seeing what we could put in, either extended interviews or various clips that we could do for a social audience.

A Global News social image featuring a local activist interviewed for the Toxic Secret report.

You mentioned the social process you used for this has become the template you’re using for future stories.

We don’t call it the Toxic Secret template, but we have found this was a good way of approaching anything. Not just our investigative stories, but if we had, let’s say a weeklong feature series that we’re rolling out, we’ve done this for several since then.

We’ve done this pretty much every time we have a major project that’s being published. We always do something ahead of time to tease it with content, to actually give people a bit of a fuller taste of it. And then of course the rolling out throughout the week, or as we have updates, and then trying to do more of a wrap-up, a look back on it. It can take various forms, it depends on the project and the elements. It’s not always a cookie cutter thing, one size fits all. That’s why I say it’s a template, but we do vary it, depending on what we’ve got and what’s available when and where the story leads us to.

Another example is #FirstTimeIWasCalled—this project was very social-focused, we were asking public figures and also the public to share their first brushes with discrimination. All stemming from a story that one of our anchors had about the first time she was called a slur, the first time she was judged by her skin colour. We found we had so much reaction to that that our wrap up just kind of kept going and going because we couldn’t fit it all. We would do one story wrapping up social media reactions, and then we’d send that out on our social channels, and then it would bring in more reactions so we would end up doing another round of it. That’s a great problem to have.

Or sometimes with this Toxic Secret project, we were getting a lot of reactions from politicians. There was a pledge that new standards for air pollution were going to be developed and released. So that gave us something more, something new to report on.

Do you find that there are certain stories, maybe like this one for example, that are more suited to social?

We do find that with the stories that immediately elicit a reaction, and that does tend to be ones that are people-focused, rather than ones that are focused on policy or process. Of course those are important stories as well.

But we do always want to get to the person involved and try to play them up big on social media. So I’m often the one saying—and everyone else has this instinct as well—if we don’t have a photo of someone who’s been interviewed for the story, then we have a problem. We make sure we have a photo of someone, if they’re telling their story, we make sure we play that up on the social media channels. So that people can relate to that person.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the project?

I would reiterate that it was really a group effort, there were a lot of hands involved with it, and so I’m very pleased that it was recognized in this way. You don’t do any of these things for the awards, you don’t do it for the rewards, but it is nice to see hard work being recognized in this way.

I’m very happy that an award like this exists, because the social media aspect of things has become so ingrained in everything that we do; every aspect of our lives, every aspect of every industry, but especially in the media industry. But it almost gets taken as a given. There’s not always a lot of thought or understanding into what actually is involved with making the things that appear in your Facebook newsfeed or show up on Twitter or pop up in your Instagram feed. So it’s nice to see that work, which is largely behind the scenes, get recognized.

That’s so true. Do you think that social media will continue to be a major part of your work at Global, and continue to be a crucial component of sharing stories?

I do. I think that algorithms come and go, and there’s always some new flavour of the week that might appear on social media, and maybe some folks will shut down their accounts in protest—we’ve definitely weathered some storms when it comes to social media—but I really think it’s so ingrained. I think more these days of social media as just one of many distribution channels. It’s another way that people consume our content and learn about the world. I don’t think that’ll ever go away. It can evolve and change, and it should, because that’s what it’s been doing up until now. But I think it’s still going to be a very vital, very important part of what we do, of how we tell stories.

Interview conducted by Jill Blackmore Evans.

Finalists for the 4th Annual Digital Publishing Awards will be announced on May 2, 2019. Follow us on Twitter for the most up-to-date news.