Presentation of the 2015 Michener Award and the 2016 Michener-Deacon Fellowships
Rideau Hall, Friday, June 17, 2016
Everyone in this ballroom understands why the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes the following:
“Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”
Likewise, you know why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19, guarantees the freedom to “receive and impart information.”
And you understand why dozens of journalists and media assistants are killed or imprisoned around the world each year simply for doing their jobs.
You know press freedoms exist because what we don’t know can hurt us.
And you know journalists are targeted because what they do matters.
What you and your news organizations do matters.
As finalists for the 2015 Michener Award and recipients of the Michener-Deacon Fellowships you know this, and that’s why you do what you do.
You know how very much it matters to Canada, to our communities, to people.
Typically, journalists are eager to avoid the spotlight, but tonight we make an exception!
Tonight, each finalist and fellow and the news organizations you represent are “the story,” and it’s a privilege to celebrate your dedication to public service journalism.
One of the great features of the Michener Award is that it’s awarded to a news organization rather than an individual, a fact which underlines the role of collaboration in your work.
Each of you would be the first to admit that great reporting is a collaborative venture.
It’s an exercise in learning that builds understanding by establishing facts, providing context and putting a human face on some of the most pressing issues of our time.
Your work as journalists and news organizations serving the public interest is both smart and caring.
You work together to research, produce and publish stories that matter to Canadians and to Canada.
I commend you for your compassion and for your commitment to seeking the truth. It’s not an easy job, but it’s so important.
As my predecessor the Right Honourable Jules Léger once said:
“A dynamic and free press is a vital element for any democratic society. Indeed, without such a press, there can be no democracy.”
On behalf of all Canadians, I congratulate and thank the finalists and the winner of this year’s Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism.
And my congratulations and best wishes to Patti Sonntag and Paul Webster, recipients of the Michener-Deacon Fellowships.