Winner: Karena Walter, St. Catharines Standard

It was one of those assignments that could have been nothing, but turned out to be quite something. While reporting on the local impact of provincial funding cuts to an inter-library loan program, Karena Walter took up an offer from a small group of seniors to cover their “read-in” protest at the Beamsville constituency office of Progressive Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhof. His staff called police on the book-loving seniors, creating a public relations nightmare that resonated with coverage across the country and caused headaches for Premier Doug Ford at Queen’s Park.

Runner-up: Luke Hendry, Belleville Intelligencer

When Luke Hendry gets his teeth in a story, he doesn’t let go. Such is the case with suspected irregularities in the polarizing 2018 municipal election that saw major turnover on Wollaston Township council. Following up on his previous stories on questions about voter eligibility and improper handling of ballots, Hendry revealed the polarizing contest is now the subject of a rare OPP fraud investigation that has local tongues wagging.

Runners-up: Steph Crosier and Elliot Ferguson, Kingston Whig-Standard

It seems the stuff of crime fiction: the traumatic fatal knifing of an unsuspecting man on downtown street by an assailant later shot and wounded by police before stabbing himself in the jugular. But when it happened in Kingston, Steph Crosier and Elliott Ferguson expertly and quickly tracked down police sources and witnesses to land the dramatic story and chronicle the aftermath for a grieving family.

ONA 2019 Spot News Writing (under 25,000 circulation): Winner and Runners-up