Winner: Jon Wells, Hamilton Spectator
Jon Wells paints a gripping portrait of Ken Murdock in his three-part series, “Hitman,” and his journey to become one of Canada’s most prolific mob killers, while chronicling one of Hamilton’s bloodiest periods for organized crime violence. Wells interviewed Murdock after tracking down the retired hitman living under a false name in Western Canada. Wells offers a compelling read that’s rich in little moments uncovered by his dogged reporting and attention to detail.
Runner-up: Cory Smith, Stratford Beacon-Herald
Carter Schoonderwoerd’s death by suicide left so many unanswered questions with his family, friends and the community. Cory Smith patiently waited more than a year until the family was ready to share Schoonderwoerd’s life with readers for a feature that also encourages anyone struggling to seek help. Stories of this nature are delicate, and Smith showed just the right touch in his writing.
Runner-up: Joanna Frketich, Hamilton Spectator
Joanna Frketich’s feature shows how chronic overcrowding at an Ontario hospital, unprecedented staff shortages, communication failures and a lack of oversight contributed to the dramatic decline and death of 87-year-old Ken O’Leary. Her reporting makes clear how ill-prepared this province is for an aging population. It’s public service journalism, a look at just how precarious the health system is.