COVID-19 Opinion/Analysis Writing
Winner: Grant LaFleche, St. Catharines Standard
To read Grant LaFleche’s excellent piece on the politics behind an unproven multimillion-dollar COVID testing proposal is to understand how real-time pandemic analysis is done. LaFleche fact-checked the proposal’s fine-print, finding errors, misrepresentations and scant science, while his savvy analysis-driven coverage of an anti-mask protest deftly turned the piece into explanatory journalism on the spread of disinformation. In addition, he pulled together data from a range of local institutions to produce a daily COVID curve graph months before public health did so. Incredible work.
Runners-up: Fitsum Areguy and Jeff Outhit,
Waterloo Region Record
Fitsum Areguy and Jeff Outhit used analytics to reveal COVID’s disproportionate effects within their community, forcing public health action. The duo unearthed data to show an outbreak among Mennonites; public health responded with protection orders. Areguy and Outhit showed how COVID was impacting poorer communities, far in advance of an acknowledgement from public health. Staying ahead of authorities while working in service of readers, Areguy and Outhit’s body of work brought the data to life through human stories, humanely told.
Runner-up: Jane Sims, London Free Press
Court reporter Jane Sims switched to a columnist role during the pandemic, bringing a talent for fearlessness with her. Sims pointed out early that London was lagging on mask guidance; a week later, the city finally issued some. A hard-hitting call for honesty from a local hospital about its own outbreak left leaders little option but to face press questions, and a column on a virtual funeral last March touched the zeitgeist perfectly; it was sadly prescient of the months to come. Sims’ range and style combine to deliver powerful accountability-led journalism.
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