Beat Reporting (under 25,000 circulation)
Winner: Susan Gamble, Brantford Expositor
It takes a special set of skills to be a great court reporter: they need a firm grasp of complex legal matters and the ability to translate them to a wider audience; they need to build sources in the legal community by earning respect and trust; above all, they must never lose sight of what lies at the heart of all memorable court stories – people. It is clear from her work that Susan Gamble possesses all these skills, and her readers are better served because she does. Her writing is precise and clear, she counts judges among her sources and her empathy shines through in her coverage. The court beat is a difficult one – it almost always involves writing about the worst day in someone’s life – and to do it this well is a testament to Gamble’s talent and a vital service to her community.
Runner-up: Elliot Ferguson, Kingston Whig-Standard
Even in this pandemic age, no level of government touches the lives of people as directly as municipal governments. Critical reporting of decisions being made at City Hall is essential and Elliot Ferguson does a crucial service for the residents of Kingston. His ongoing reporting on a multimillion-dollar proposal to clean up the city’s Inner Harbour was everything people should expect from a City Hall reporter: diligent, curious and balanced. Ferguson has a clear ability to condense complex scientific arguments and an even hand in reporting the interests of competing groups. Kingstonians who follow his reporting will be better informed as their council continues to debate the environmental problem lapping at their shore.
Runner-up: Joelle Kovach, Peterborough Examiner
The effort it takes to uncover a story those in power don’t want uncovered isn’t always reflected online or on the page, but that’s just part of the job of a political beat reporter. Joelle Kovach’s digging into an explosive fight between the mayor and the chief administrative officer of Peterborough is a case in point. It took diligence and creative thinking to “obtain” a confidential report that shed light on the issue and after her reporting on it (as well as two previously disclosed reports), Kovach followed through with a story that is squarely in the public interest – how much these reports cost the public. While this kind of watchdog reporting can end up in a lot of dead ends, tenacity can prevail – and those in power will be held to account.
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