Winner: Cory Smith, Stratford Beacon-Herald
Sports Editor Cory Smith of the Stratford Beacon Herald was as shocked as everyone else when 19-year-old Carter Schoonderwoerd, local hockey hero, “gentle giant” and all-round good guy, committed suicide. In interviews months later with Carter’s parents, three sisters, aunt, friends, teammates, coaches and his girlfriend, Smith paints a poignant picture, both of a promising young man who seemed to have it all, and the devastating ripple effect on others from such a tragic, unexplained loss.
Runner-up: Sabrina Bedford, Brockville Recorder and Times
In a fine example of enterprise reporting, Sabrina Bedford of Brockville’s The Recorder and Times writes how the local school board dramatically reversed students’ declining reading skills using phonics. A member of a two-person newsroom, Bedford took the time to do a “deep dive” after picking up on an item at a board meeting. She also reported the ministry of education will be introducing similar curriculum changes across the province this September.
Runner-up: Scott Dunn, Owen Sound Sun Times
Scott Dunn of the Owen Sound Sun Times captures the upbeat spirit and character of the irascible Bill Murdock in an upbeat piece that defies its location, the hospice room where Murdoch would die a few days later.