On Wednesday, May 29, the NMAF will present Winners’ Circle, a special event that will bring together award-winning and nominated writers, editors, artists, art directors to meet, mingle, pitch and learn about social media advertising.
Learn & Leverage Presentation The two-part event will begin with a discussion lead by Kyle Verge from PUSH Media. Verge will speak about demystifying social advertising, and how magazine marketers and independent creators/freelancers can craft successful e-commerce initiatives using Facebook and Instagram.
Fast Pitch After the presentation, it’s time to mingle and network with your peers. We’ll be facilitating introductions between writers, artists, editors and art directors. If you’re planning to attend and would like to have a chance to sit down with an award-winning writer/artist or an award-winning magazine editor or art director, send a note to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re looking forward to welcoming you on May 29 from 3pm to 5pm at One King West Hotel in downtown Toronto.
All nominees from the National Magazine Awards, the Digital Publishing Awards and the National Magazine Awards: B2B are invited to attend. Contact us to RSVP or request more information. Please RSVP by May 22. Space is limited and available on a first come basis.
For 2019, 118 submissions, from 50 various publications, have been nominated. These nominations are the result of a collaborative and rigorous judging process, made possible by our dedicated roster of 80 volunteer judges.
“The Digital Publishing Awards program was launched four years ago, and since, the number of participating publications has more than doubled. An impressive total of 127 publications submitted entries in 2019. It is thrilling to see the enthusiasm for these awards, and exciting to witness the outstanding work of Canadian creators being celebrated by their peers. The NMAF is immensely proud to present the 4th annual DPAs, and look forward to welcoming you all at the Awards Soirée on May 29.” – Julie Cailliau, NMAF President.
On May 29th, the Gold, Silver, and Honourable Mention winners will be revealed at the Soiree, with Gold winners in select categories receiving a $500 cash prize. The Soiree will be held in Toronto at One King West and hosted by award-winning journalist and editor Eternity Martis. Purchase a ticket through digitalpublishingawards.ca to join us for the celebration.
EMERGING EXCELLENCE AWARD
The emerging excellence award—which honours an individual whose early work in Canadian digital publishing demonstrates the utmost degree of craft and promise—nominees for 2019 are: Sofia Misenheimer of Art/iculation, Natalie Vineberg of The Walrus, and Erin Valois of the National Post.
GENERAL EXCELLENCE IN DIGITAL PUBLISHING AWARDS
The General Excellence awards recognize the publications that maximize the possibilities of digital publishing; these are the publications that succeed in fulfilling their editorial mandate and represent the highest of journalistic standards. These awards are presented in three divisions: small, medium, and large.
The Logic, The Sprawl, andunpointcinq.ca are finalists in the small division.
Hakai Magazine, The Kit,andMaclean’s are finalists in the medium division.
In the large division, CBC Newsand Le Devoirare the nominees.
A number of publications are first time DPA nominees, including: Art/iculation, BBC News, Ha-Shilth-Sa, LocalLove.ca, Magazine web 100 degrés, Mic Drop, Moneysense, National Post, Calgary Herald, Pastime, Peterborough Currents, QUB radio, Report on Business, Saskatoon StarPhoenix/Regina Leader-Post, SooToday, The Logic, The Narwhal, Unpointcinq.ca, and Yorkregion.com / Markham Economist Sun.
For 2019, the top nominated publications are CBC Newswith 18 nominations across various divisions, and The Globe and Mailwith 16 nominations.
Hakai earned an impressive 6 nominations, while Maclean’sandRadio-Canada each earned five nominations. Other top-nominated publications include:
INDIVIDUAL NOMINATION HIGHLIGHTS
“Hustle in the oil patch: Inside a looming financial and environmental crisis” by Jeff Lewis, Jeffrey Jones, Chen Wang, Renata D’Aliesio, Christopher Manza, Matthew French, John Sopinski, Murat Yükselir, Melissa Tait, Todd Korol, Brennan Higginbotham, and Theresa Suzuki (published in The Globe and Mail) is a finalist in both Best News Coverage and Best Digital Editorial Package.
Air Canada enRoute’s “Canada’s Best News Restaurants” guide is nominated for the fourth year in a row for Best Digital Editorial Package. The guide is also a nominee in the Best Online Video: Short category.
“Follow the Money”—a product of collaboration between the National Post and Calgary Herald teams and led by Zane Schwartz, Brice Hall, and Julie Traves—is nominated for Innovation in Digital Storytelling and Best News Coverage.
The NMAF is delighted to present Kathy Vey, TVO’s Executive Producer of Digital, with the prestigious 2019 Digital Publishing Leadership Award. Vey’s 37-year career in Canadian journalism spans pivotal roles at media outlets including the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Sun, Queen’s Park Briefing, OpenFile, and TVO.org.
Best News Coverage
Toronto Van Attack William Wolfe-Wylie, Dwight Friesen, Richard Grasley, Hannah Wise, Sannah Choi, Kate Cornick, Farrah Merali, Andre Mayer, Paul Borkwood, David Donnelly, Albert Leung, Martin Trainor, Diana Swain, Ioanna Roumeliotis, Melissa Mancini, and the CBC Toronto digital team CBC Toronto/CBC News
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
Campagne électorale québécoise 2018 La rédaction Le Devoir
Follow the Money Zane Schwartz, Brice Hall, Julie Traves Postmedia
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
Best News Coverage (Small Newsroom)
Who was Maggie Sutlej? Humanitarian aid group reaches out to Ahousaht 150 years after wartime abduction of child Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa
Réimaginer nos aménagements Marianne Boire, François Grenier, Françoise Ruby Magazine web 100 degrés
2018 Sault Ste. Marie Municipal Election Coverage David Helwig SooToday
Bankruptcy protection for Sault’s main employer sparks fight over port David Helwig SooToday
The Yellow Brick Road to Mount Everest Sarah Staples, Richard Vandentillaart Yorkregion.com / Markham Economist Sun
Best Personal Essay
The Waiting Room Christian Allaire Hazlitt
The Agony of Intimacy Chelsea Murray Hazlitt
A Body Like a Home Gwen Benaway Hazlitt
What are land acknowledgements and why do they matter? Selena Mills, Kat Tancock, Stacy Lee Kon, Chief Lady Bird LocalLove.ca
I tried to live according to Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. Here’s what happened Jessica Leeder, Winnie T. Frick, Bryan Gee, Lisan Jutras National Post
A dad’s discovery: Raising a child is thankless work Tim Kiladze, Lisan Jutras The Globe and Mail
A Dog’s Life Shawna Richer, Deb Baic The Globe and Mail
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
Mon manège à moi Anick Lemay URBANIA
How to Have “the Talk” as a Muslim Father Yasir Khan, Lauren McKeon, Samia Madwar The Walrus
Queeries Peter Knegt CBC Arts
Science Valérie Borde L’actualité
Anne Kingston, columns Anne Kingston Maclean’s magazine
Jennifer Ditchburn columns Jennifer Ditchburn Policy Options
Dorothy Woodend, culture columnist Dorothy Woodend The Tyee
Chantal Braganza Chantal Braganza, Sarah Sweet TVO.org
Best Feature Article: Short
The Water Carriers Alannah Campbell, Karen Levine, Pauline Holdsworth, Ruby Buiza, Andre Mayer, Lakshine Sathiyanathan CBC Radio – The Sunday Edition
“My whole life taken away”: Ontario father questions why 24-year-old wife died post-childbirth Arti Patel, Caryn Lieberman, Beatrice Politi, James Armstrong, Sarah Kelsey, Peter Hadzipetros Global News
In rural New Brunswick, a transgender woman charts a new path Lindsay Jones, Matt Brown, Timothy Moore, Scott Munn The Globe and Mail
The lost summer Sharon J. Riley, Emma Gilchrist, Carol Linnitt The Narwhal
Et si on jetait les camions dans le fleuve ? Rémy Bourdillon Unpointcinq
Best Digital Editorial Package
Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2018 Gabrielle Simpson, Stephanie Mercier-Voyer, Yvonne Miou, Stefanie Sosiak, Danielle Groen, Sarah Musgrave, Nancy Matsumoto Air Canada enRoute
Stuck Sophie Gray, Alexander Kim, Emma Loy, Holly McKenzie-Sutter, Alexander Migdal, Sharon Nadeem, Andrew Seal, Aryn Strickland, Peter Klein, Kathryn Gretsinger, Saranaz Barforoush, Dan McKinney, Britney Dennison, Andrew Munroe, Zak Vescera, David Murawsky, Amanda De Souza, Paul Trundle, Andrew Yates, Andree Lau, Louise Roug International Reporting Program and HuffPost Canada
Lines of Fire Leader-Post Team/StarPhoenix Team Saskatoon StarPhoenix/Regina Leader-Post
Hustle in the oil patch Jeff Lewis, Jeffrey Jones, Renata D’Aliesio, Chen Wang, Melissa Tait, Christopher Manza, Matt French, John Sopinski, Todd Korol, Brennan Higginbotham The Globe and Mail
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
Best Feature Article: Long
Jo Aubin Shannon Proudfoot Maclean’s magazine
Croisière, bikinis et cocaïne Julie Dufresne, Luc Tremblay, Chantal Cauchy, Gaétan Poulio, Éric Larouche, André Guimaraes, Santiago Salcido, Sophie Leclerc Radio-Canada
Homeland (Parts 1 & 2) Matthew Halliday, Chelsea Murray The Deep
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
Back to the land Andre Mayer, Dave Pizer, Evan Mitsui CBC News
As a person of colour, it’s a struggle to find therapists who look like you Arti Patel, Sarah Kelsey, Lina Toyoda Global News
Hidden Canada The Globe and Mail, Maryam Siddiqi, Christopher Manza, Rachel Wine, Benjamin MacDonald, Alanna Cavangh The Globe and Mail
Best Science and Technology Storytelling
Apps Installed On Millions Of Android Phones Tracked User Behavior To Execute A Multimillion-Dollar Ad Fraud Scheme Craig Silverman BuzzFeed Canada
The million-dollar drug Kelly Crowe, Dave Pizer, Craig Chivers CBC News
The Cavernous World under the Woods Bruce Grierson, Jude Isabella Hakai Magazine
The Noose Beneath the Waves Sasha Chapman, Shanna Baker Hakai Magazine
The Trees That Sail to Sea Brian Payton, Jude Isabella Hakai Magazine
Rio’s Killer Apps Stephanie Nolen, Rhian John-Hankinson, Jeremy Agius, Laura Blenkinsop, Elisangela Mendonca, Patrick Dell, Angela Murphy, Affan Chowdhry, Rasha Mourtada The Globe and Mail
Follow the Water: Hidden Cost of a B.C. Town’s Water Joanne Pearce, Alfred Hermida, Hans Schreier UBC School of Journalism
Best Online Video: Short
Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2018: Elena Martin Laporte, Nik Mirus, Marine Créquer, Stefanie Sosiak, Danielle Groen,L’Éloi Air Canada enRoute
The truth about SugarBearHair vitamins Roxanna Woloshyn, Anne MacRae, Charlsie Agro, Stephanie Dudley, Dave MacIntosh CBC News
Endometriosis Ben Shannon, Danielle d’Entremont, Jeff Goodes, Bria John, Olsy Sorokina, Dawna Dingwall CBC Radio – White Coat, Black Art
How can I afford a home? Prajakta Dhopade, Micah Bond, Yan Rosa, Elizabeth Palmieri MoneySense
L’histoire de la paille Djavan Habel-Thurton, Francis Lamontagne, Mélanie Julien, Eric Larouche, Martine Roy Radio-Canada
Mums who scrum Melissa Tait The Globe and Mail
Best Arts & Culture Storytelling
The Sexy Sadness Of Sufjan Stevens Scaachi Koul BuzzFeed Canada
The Oracle of Oyster River Brian Payton Hakai Magazine
Alex Janvier’s colourful life Marty Klinkenberg, Amber Bracken The Globe and Mail
The Magnetism of Sadness and Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison Josh Visser VICE Canada
Comment faire son chemin, quand on est trans et actrice Justine de l’Église VICE (Quebec)
Best Online Video: Feature
A day in the life of Raptors Photographer — Ron Turenne David Zelikovitz, Donnovan Bennett Sportsnet
Hockey is for Everyone: Jessica Platt Donnovan Bennett, David Zelikovitz Sportsnet
We the North Grandma Donnovan Bennett, Graham Runciman, Maggie Naylor, Scott SimpsonSportsnet
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
The caribou guardians Sarah Cox, Jayce Hawkins, Emma Gilchrist, Carol Linnitt The Narwhal
Les sites de rencontre vus par une artiste trans Brigitte Noël, Catherine Marineau-Dufresne, Jean-Pierre Bastien, Matt Joycey, Steve Martella VICE (Québec)
What I didn’t learn in Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum Corey Misquita, Riley Sparks Xtra
Best Online Video: Mini-Doc
Canada’s peacekeeping mission in Mali: Who’s fighting and why Krista Hessey Maclean’s
Coal Valley: The story of B.C.’s quiet water contamination crisis Carol Linnitt, Jayce Hawkins, Emma Gilchrist The Narwhal
Fear and Loading: Meet the NRA’s Most Wanted Customer Sofi Langis, Manisha Krishnan, Spencer Chumbley, Danny Patterson, Taylor Rivers, Heidi Besner VICE Canada
Is this the next Standing Rock? Hilary Beaumont, Alex Craig, Taylor Rivers, Heidi Besner, Rebecca LaFortune, Michelle Latimer, Alex Craig, Jessica Ford, Natalie Alcoba, Tania Natscheff, Josh Marr VICE News Canada
Souldia : à double tranchant Simon Coutu, Jean-Pierre Bastien, Zacharie Fay, David Valiquette, William Gignac, Maude M. Ouellet VICE (Québec)
Where have all the spaces for queer women in Toronto gone?Corey Misquita, Riley Sparks, Lulu Wei, Eric Wright Xtra
Front Burner Jayme Poisson, Chris Berube, Elaine Chau, Shannon Higgins, Derek Vanderwyk, Nick McCabe-Lokos CBC News
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
CBC Mic Drop Shari Okeke, Carrie Haber, Cristal Duhaime, Jess Shane Mic Drop
Peterborough Currents Ayesha Barmania, Will Pearson Peterborough Currents
En 5 minutes Charles Trahan, Baptiste Zapirain, Benjamin Bourque, Hélène Laurin, Frédéric Guindon QUB radio
Rap carcéral Simon Coutu, Alain Loiselle, Dice B, Laurent K. Blais Radio-Canada Première (produit par VICE)
Best Digital Design
Universités : payer plus pour avoir moins? Naël Shiab, Santiago Salcido CBC/Radio-Canada
On a redessiné le Québec Marc Lajoie, Melanie Julien, Mélanie Meloche-Holubowski, Santiago Salcido, Martine Roy Radio-Canada
Toronto Star’s Featured Projects Portfolio Fadi Yaacoub, Cameron Tulk, David Schnitman, Nathan Pilla, Tania Pereira The Toronto Star
Best Photo Storytelling
Black in Canada: 10 stories Jalani Morgan, Robin Levinson King, Jessica MurphyBBC News – Canada bureau
Us Too Geneviève Caron, Lindsay Siu, Tavia Grant, Dawn Calleja, Clare Vander Meersch, Jeremy Agius Report on Business magazine
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
Escaping NXIVM Megan Griffith-Greene, Charles Fogel, Anne MacRae, Micheline Parent, Irene Thomaidis, Evan Aagaard, Josh Bloch CBC News
#FirstTimeIWasCalled Farah Nasser, Erica Vella, Ben Jonah, Eric Mark Do, Dean Hayashi, Mike Lapalme, Chris MacDougall, Trevor Owens, Lacy Atalick, Michael Hutchinson, Samantha Turchan, Nida Omar, Jessica Maxwell, Drew Hasselback, Shauna Rempel, Simon Osler, Brian McKechnie, Mackay Taggart Global News
Pay equity social sells Elizabeth Palmieri, Jason Kirby, and Scott Simpson Maclean’s
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
Hakai Magazine Weekly Newsletter Adrienne Mason, Raina Delisle, David Garrison, Mark Garrison, Josh Silberg Hakai Magazine
Le courrier électoral Geneviève Tremblay, Stéphane Baillargeon, Cédric Gagnon, Jean-Philippe Corbeil, Simon Poirier Le Devoir
Pastime, Season One Nathaniel Basen, Adam Anshan, Cody Gault, Paul Thompson, Colin McGowan, Sam Riches, Josh Tucker, Mike Piellucci, Sarah Brown, Glenn Harvey, Kyle Scott, Alex Mathers, Joe Wolfond, Paul Kim Pastime
Innovation in Digital Storytelling
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
Because News Alexa Game Elizabeth Bowie, Gavin Crawford, Ian Cauthery CBC Radio’s Because News
Toronto Votes Victoria Valido, Chris Glover, Laura Green, David Allmark, T.J. Heideman, Bob Weiers, Julia Whalen, Lauren Pelley, Lisa Xing, Farrah Merali, Talia Ricci, Nick Boisvert, John Rieti, Matt Elliott CBC Toronto
Follow the Money Zane Schwartz, National Post & Calgary Herald teams National Post and Calgary Herald
Olympics interactive graphics Timothy Moore, Christopher Manza, Trish McAlaster The Globe and Mail
Join us on May 29th when we present the Gold, Silver, and Honourable Mention awards at the 4th annual Digital Publishing Awards Soiree. The Soiree will be held at One King West, and Eternity Martis will host. Martis’ work has helpedshape the language used in newsrooms across Canada, is discussed in mainstream media, changed policies on racism and is taught on academic syllabuses at Western University, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.
We’re pleased to announce that award-winning journalist and editor Eternity Martis will host this year’s DPA Soirée on May 29 at One King West Hotel in Toronto.
“I’m very excited to emcee this year’s Digital Publishing Awards and honour the excellent work of journalists, editors, designers, producers and all others in digital publishing who are creating and telling the stories that matter. In the years the DPAs has recognized digital excellence, it’s provided a space for celebrating a range of voices and content that both reflect our cultural landscape and push the boundaries of storytelling. As a young woman fairly new to the industry when the DPAs launched, it was thrilling to see the stories I cared about nominated and awarded. Now as your emcee, I look forward to celebrating another year of astonishing achievements with all of you.”
Eternity is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor at Xtra. Her work, namely on race and gender, has been featured in Vice, HuffPost, The Walrus, CBC, Hazlitt, The Fader, tvo.org and more, and one of her essays was selected by Roxane Gay as part of Salon’s series highlighting writers of colour.
Her article “A Capital
Idea,” exploring the reasons for capitalizing Black and Indigenous, helped
influence media style guides changes across Canada including The Ryerson Review of Journalism,
tvo.org, and Xtra. Her writing has
also been featured on syllabuses at Western University, Carleton University,
University of Ottawa, University of West Indies St. Augustine and on numerous
#BlackLivesMatter syllabuses around the world.
In 2018, she won Gold
for Best Investigative Feature at the Canadian Online Publishing Awards for her
piece “The Health Effects of Anti-Black Racism.” In 2017, she was a National
Magazine Awards finalist for Best New Writer for her longform feature “Know
Your History, Know Your Greatness” in Hazlitt. She recently wrote an essay in
the highly-anticipated anthology “Black Writers Matter” from University of
Regina Press (2019), and her memoir, They
Said This Would Be Fun, about being a student of colour amid growing white
nationalism on campus, is forthcoming from McClelland & Stewart.
Gold, Silver and Honourable Mentions will be presented at
this year’s Digital Publishing Awards Soirée, a night for our industry to come
together and celebrate the creators responsible for producing the best digital
content in Canada.
Join us on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at One King West Hotel in Toronto. Tickets for the Soirée will go on sale on May 2nd, when the nominations are announced. For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Executive Director, Barbara Gould at email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
Early-birds, you’re almost out of time—our discount comes to an end this Friday! If you want to save $25 per entry, be sure to make your submission(s) by midnight (ET) on January 25th. After that, entry fees will be $125 each.
All Canadian digital publications and digital creators are welcome to enter the awards. Many of the categories have a $500 cash prize for the gold winner, while our national publicity efforts promote all finalists and winners. Placing in the Digital Publishing Awards means getting your work read and recognized.
What’s more, the submission process is simple: review the categories, then click here to access the online submissions portal, and follow the steps provided. (Freelancers, remember that we also offer the freelancer support fund.)