Winners announced in the 2010 Goff Penny Awards for Young Journalists

Nicole O'Reilly, formerly of The Guelph Mercury and now with the Hamilton Spectator, and Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star are the 2009 winners of the 19th Annual Hon. Edward Goff Penny Memorial Prizes for Young Canadian Journalists.

The awards program, administered by the Canadian Newspaper Association, provides for cash prizes of $1,500 to the winners in each circulation category, under 25,000 and over 25,000. Begun in 1992, the competition is open to journalists between the ages of 20-25 working for CNA-member newspapers.

The Hon. Edward Goff Penny (1820-1881) rose from the position of reporter at the Montreal Herald in the late 1800s to editor and publisher. He was the first president of the Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa and in 1874 became the first newspaperman to be appointed to the Senate. The awards in his name were established in 1991 at the bequest of the estate of the late Arthur Guy Penny, another newspaper editor and Quebec civil servant who was Edward Goff Penny's grandson. Arthur G. Penny, who died in 1963, asked that these prizes go specifically to young journalists between the ages of 20-25, and he set out the criteria by which the works were to be judged.

The judging, which was based on works published in 2009, was done by three senior editors selected by the CNA. Points were awarded to each entrant and the points were tabulated by CNA in Toronto. Both winners were 24 years old when their articles were written.

In the 25,000 and under category, the winner is Nicole O'Reilly formerly of The Guelph Mercury. Nicole is now writing for the Hamilton Spectator. Her reputation for digging deep was apparent in two of her entries. In the first she used legal documents as background to encourage a reluctant subject to open up. In the second entry, she took the mundane topic of trees and turned it into a wide-ranging piece on the declined state of trees and the lack of a civic strategy in a city recognized for its agricultural roots. Her third entry also looked at civic issues, examining and analyzing city staffing levels and salaries and comparing them to population growth. Her final submission was part of a week-long series about the gravel industry, producing explanatory-quality features to educate readers.

In the 25,000 and over category, the winner is Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star. One of his entries was an in-depth look at cyclist Allan Sheppard, who was killed after being struck by a car. Former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant was charged with criminal negligence in the death. Daniel’s “shoe-leather reporting” was credited by his editor as altering public perception of the case and giving his newspaper the edge on coverage. He was the first reporter to interview an eye-witness to the altercation and went on to talk to numerous relatives and every contact on Sheppard’s Facebook page, adding often sad layers to the story of the victim. His determination to dig deeper also produced revealing profiles of John Rafferty, the first “sighted” chief executive of the CNIB and 12-year-old Regent Park poet, Mustafa Ahmed. His final piece was about a walk down memory lane at the old Maple Leaf Gardens with NHL tough-guy Tie Domi. Unable to arrange an official tour with new owner Loblaw, Daniel signed up for a media event for Battle of the Blades and took an impromptu tour with Domi instead.

The awards will be presented during the CNA/CCNA annual luncheon on Friday, May 14, 2010 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, during the Ink & Beyond 2010 newspaper conference.

For more information, contact Susan Down, Managing Director Dailies, CNA, 416-923-3