Winner: Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star
Wilhelm takes the health beat to the street with a searing examination into the death of a homeless man, bringing him to life on the page in a city that doesn’t track homeless deaths. The writing is vivid: “As the chill tightened its grip and people passed by paying no attention, Anatole Rybas curled up on the sidewalk in downtown Windsor and quietly froze to death.” Wilhelm’s chronicle of an orchestra leader’s cancer journey is riveting and his look into in vitro fertilization helped secure more provincial funding.
Runner-up: Grant LaFleche, Hamilton Spectator
As an investigative reporter, LaFleche takes complicated subjects and breaks them wide open, leading the reader through them with his sweeping approach and lively writing. His stories on school board candidates endorsed by “freedom movement” activists, online attacks on female journalists, and “freedom movement” attacks on drag shows clearly expose hate and division.
Runners-up: Sebastian Bron and Katrina Clarke, Hamilton Spectator
In a series of stories on privacy breaches at a local hospital, the writers expose “file snooping,” an alarming number of “misdirected” faxes, and raise questions as to why a staffer who spied on the health records of 49 patients was not fired. That employee was later terminated, and the pressure created by this persistent journalism prompted the hospital to create a new executive position safeguarding patient privacy.