Sing Tao makes history with National Newspaper Awards win

A team from Sing Tao won the Special Topic Award on Friday, becoming the first journalists in the 75-year history of the National Newspaper Awards to be recognized for work done in a language other than French or English.

The journalists were honoured for the four-part series Embracing Canada, which explored the challenges faced by the second wave of immigrants from Hong Kong. Sing Tao is a Chinese-language publication, with offices in Vancouver and Toronto.

The series included interviews with recent immigrants and explored the shortcomings and future of Canada’s immigration pathway program, while also providing helpful information about entrepreneurship and healthcare in the country. Judges said it provided a comprehensive picture of what newcomers from Hong Kong will face in their new home.

The category was created last fall as part of an ongoing commitment to make the competition more diverse and inclusive, better reflecting the range of publications and journalism across the country.

The team from Sing Tao received one of 25 awards on the night, which ended with Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail being named Journalist of the Year.

Saunders, who also won the Norman Webster Award for International Reporting, was selected by a panel of judges from among 17 winning entries submitted by one or two individuals.

Judges said: “The time, energy, personal risk and extraordinary ingenuity Doug Saunders put into this assignment produced the most detailed and touching portrait of migration on a global scale that our jury has ever seen. Saunders brought 21st-century tools and old-fashioned reporter’s instincts to this compelling package of interdisciplinary reporting.”

Two projects were also recognized. The Globe and Mail won Project of the Year for Secret Canada, while the Climate Disaster Project based out of the University of Victoria received a Special Recognition Citation.

Secret Canada was the culmination of an investigation into Canada’s access to information system that spanned more than 18 months. The Globe and Mail not only exposed major problems within the system but humanized them. They also created a solution to one of the system’s major flaws: the vast majority of public institutions don’t publish completed FOI requests online. As part of the project, the Globe built an online portal to house completed access requests from across the country. It can be accessed by anyone who is interested, including freelancers and journalists in smaller newsrooms who may not be able to afford FOI fees.

Judges called the project a win for journalists and for democracy. Surveys of users show the site is being used in newsrooms across the country and as a teaching tool in journalism schools.

The Climate Disaster Project received a Special Recognition Citation, which was handed out for just the second time. Established in September 2021, and led by founding director Sean Holman out of the University of Victoria, the project is essentially a teaching newsroom. So far, almost 200 journalism and writing students from across Canada have been trained to cover climate change from the frontlines in an empathetic, trauma-informed way, respecting the dignity of survivors.

The stories, which include investigative work and first-person accounts, are preserved on the Climate Disaster Project website. In 2023, they were amplified by organizations such as The Tyee, the National Observer, the Fraser Valley Current and the Royal B.C. Museum.

Judges applauded the trauma-informed approach to journalism as well as the structure of the project and the many partnerships created. They said it was a model of cooperation that can be replicated in other newsrooms as they shrink.

The citation was created as part of an effort to honour journalism that doesn’t fit neatly into the NNA’s existing 23 categories, but had an exceptional impact on the Canadian news industry. Room Up Front, a volunteer-run initiative seeking to combat inequality in the Canadian photojournalism community, received the inaugural citation last year.

Other highlights:

  • There were 10 first-time winners this year: Matt SimmonsCara McKenna and Marty Clemens, IndigiNews and The Narwhal (Arts and Entertainment); Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Toronto Star (co-winner in Business); Max Fawcett, National Observer (Columns); Matt Goerzen, The Brandon Sun (Editorial Writing); Darryl Greer, Canadian Press (Investigations); Tyler Olsen, Fraser Valley Current (Local Reporting); Goran Tomasevic, Globe and Mail (News Photo); and Jane Sims, London Free Press (Short Feature).
  • Sing Tao was one of four publications to win for the first time, along with the Fraser Valley Current, IndigiNews and The Narwhal.
  • Editorial cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon of the Halifax Chronicle Herald won his ninth NNA, matching the all-time record set by Grant Robertson of the Globe and Mail last year.
  • The Globe and Mail led all organizations with seven wins among the 23 regular categories. La Presse had three, as did the Toronto Star, including one shared with The Narwhal. The Brandon Sun and The Narwhal both won two awards. The Narwhal’s second award was shared with IndigiNews.

There were 69 finalists in 23 categories, representing 26 news organizations. Thirteen organizations won at least one award.

Finalists and winners were selected by three-judge panels in each category from 892 entries submitted for work published for the first time in 2023. Entries were submitted by 64 news organizations. Several of those organizations, plus an additional five that would not otherwise have been eligible for the contest, were also considered for the Special Recognition Citation.

This is the 75th year for the awards program, and the 35th under the current administrative structure. The awards were established by the Toronto Press Club in 1949 to encourage excellence and reward achievement in daily newspaper work in Canada. The competition is now open to newspapers, news agencies and online news sites approved for entry by the NNA Board of Governors.

The complete list of winners and finalists:

Arts and Entertainment

WinnerMatt SimmonsCara McKenna and Marty Clemens, IndigiNews and The Narwhal, for their feature about the return of a stolen totem pole to Nisga’a Nation after almost a century.

FinalistsMarsha Lederman, Globe and Mail, for her stories on the Vancouver Art Gallery’s celebrated Group of Seven oil sketches that turned out to be fakes; Jon Wells, Hamilton Spectator, for his portfolio of stories on a hidden gem recording space in a former church, the time Pink Floyd played Hamilton, and the time Luciano Pavarotti almost did.

Joan Hollobon Award for Beat Reporting

Winner: Ariane Lacoursière, La Presse, for her work on the significant inequalities in health care in the 14 villages of Nunavik in northern Quebec.

FinalistsDanielle Bochove, Bloomberg, for her coverage of the Global Arctic, as the region takes on heightened economic, strategic and environmental significance; Alex Boyd, Toronto Star, for her authoritative work on the misinformation that is increasingly influencing our world.

Stuart M. Robertson Award for Breaking News

Winner: La Presse, for their coverage of the day a bus driver killed  two children and injured six more when his vehicle crashed into a daycare centre in Laval.

Finalists: Canadian Press, for their comprehensive coverage of the McDougall Creek Wildfire in West Kelowna, the largest fire in the city’s history; Winnipeg Free Press and The Brandon Sun, for their combined coverage of the Trans-Canada Highway crash near Carberry last June that led to the death of 17 seniors.


Winner: Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Rachel Mendleson, Toronto Star, for their series Work Forced, which revealed the inner mechanics of labour exploitation and how Canada’s existing laws enable it to thrive.

FinalistsJoe Castaldo, Globe and Mail, for his months-long look into artificial intelligence and how it is reshaping society, not always for the best; Tavia Grant, Globe and Mail, for a year-long investigation into the lack of oversight of Canadian companies working in extractive industries abroad.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary Award for Columns

WinnerMax Fawcett, National Observer, for his columns on conservative attacks on the federal government’s climate policy, the federal Liberals’ carbon tax communication problems, and the war on expertise.

Finalists: Niigaan Sinclair, Winnipeg Free Press, for his columns on Manitoba politics, including an introduction to Premier Wab Kinew with an eye to Indigenous cultures and traditions and the significance of Kinew taking on the role of Indigenous Affairs minister; Adam Zivo, National Post, for commentary on controversial topics, including the problems with ‘straight Pride’ and with the Ontario NDP’s proposal to ban anti-LGBTQ+ protests within the vicinity of queer events.

Editorial Cartooning

WinnerBruce MacKinnon, Halifax Chronicle Herald

Finalists: Michael de Adder, Halifax Chronicle Herald; Brian Gable, Globe and Mail

Claude Ryan Award for Editorial Writing

WinnerMatt Goerzen, The Brandon Sun, for editorials on Brandon’s growth on LGBTQIA+ rights, the changes required after the deadly Carberry collision, and why deficit numbers can’t always be trusted.

FinalistsChris Hannay, Globe and Mail, for editorials on the exploitation of temporary foreign workers and students, the diminished influence of labour unions, and why the federal government needs to act quickly on AI; Lauren Heuser, Canadian Affairs, for editorials on Pierre Poilievre’s documentary on Canada’s housing crisis, the federal dental-care initiative, and the need to increase awareness about cannabis risks.

Explanatory Work

WinnerMarcus Gee, Globe and Mail, for his explanation of how fentanyl became the king of drugs, killing someone in Canada, on average, nearly every hour of every day.

FinalistsAmy Dempsey Raven, Toronto Star, for her look at how Toronto, over the last 100 years, became a haven for a large and bold raccoon population; Melissa Martin, Winnipeg Free Press, for an exploration of crime reduction that began by asking why people commit crimes — then sought to find out, by interviewing five people with an extensive history with the criminal justice system.

Feature Photo

WinnerTim Smith, The Brandon Sun, for his colourful photo of women on a forklift washing windows at the CanAm Hutterite Colony.

FinalistsDarren Calabrese, Canadian Press, for his photo of a woman waving goodbye to her husband while the HMCS Montreal readies for departure in HalifaxLeah Hennel, Reuters, for her photo of a woman in a mask walking her dogs on a smoky day in Calgary, when 90 wildfires were active in Alberta.

Norman Webster Award for International Reporting

WinnerDoug Saunders, Globe and Mail, who spent weeks on each of the world’s most important and contested crisis migration routes to take a deeper look at the world’s migration crisis.

FinalistsIsabelle Hachey, La Presse, for her reports from Ukraine: the killings, the stolen children, the attempts to destroy the identity of the nation; Katharine Lake Berz, Toronto Star, for her series of articles on the Ukrainian women and children who survived Russian war-crime violence.

George Brown Award for Investigations

WinnerDarryl Greer, Canadian Press, for a months-long investigation into rape, stalking and bullying at one of Canada’s most secretive organizations: the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

FinalistsBill Curry, Globe and Mail, for his investigation into federal government IT procurement processes, which triggered Parliamentary hearings, public servant suspensions, and prompted the federal government to cut off contractors; Tristan Péloquin, La Presse, for dissecting the environmental fallout of an illegal dump in the Mohawk territory of Kanesatake, including water contaminated by a toxic spill.

Journalist of the Year

WinnerDoug Saunders, Globe and Mail

E. Cora Hind Award for Local Reporting

WinnerTyler Olsen, Fraser Valley Current, for his exploration of how the promised rebuild of Lytton, B.C. — almost two years after the fire that destroyed it — has gone so wrong.

FinalistsRandy RichmondCalvi LeonRachel Gilbert and Brice Hall, London Free Press, for their project The Boy With Two Names: One Indigenous family’s journey through the Sixties Scoop; Sabrina Bedford, Brockville Recorder and Times, for her exhaustive coverage of an OPP officer convicted of multiple crimes, including raping an unconscious woman and recording it on his cell phone.

William Southam Award for Long Feature

WinnerDouglas ToddVancouver Sun/The Province, for his thought-provoking look at B.C.’s mental health system and whether his dad — who was institutionalized for 20 years — would have survived it.

FinalistsLindsay Jones, Globe and Mail, for her touching feature on two men — one of Indigenous ethnicity, the other non-Indigenous — who recently discovered they had been switched at birth at a small rural hospital north of Winnipeg in 1955;

Tom Rachman, Globe and Mail, for his well-researched feature on the quest to understand — and find — happiness.

News Photo

WinnerGoran Tomasevic, Globe and Mail, for his photo of the family of an accused ISIS operative, taken during a counter-terrorism night raid by Syrian Democratic Forces in Deir ez-Zor.

FinalistsAshley Fraser, Ottawa Citizen/Ottawa Sun, for capturing the raw emotions of police officers standing guard as the casket of slain OPP Sgt. Eric Mueller is taken to a funeral home; Jesse Winter, Globe and Mail, for his image of a firefighter using a drip torch to set a planned ignition on a wildfire burning near a highway outside Vanderhoof, B.C.

Photo Story

WinnerSteve Russell, Toronto Star, for his story on a retired couple in their late 80s — one with dementia; the other caring for — in the final chapter of their lives.

FinalistsMartin Tremblay, La Presse, for documenting the fighting and the fate of inhabitants living in the streets of Bakhmut, UkraineJesse Winter, freelance, for his harrowing images from the frontlines of the worst wildfire season in B.C. history.

John Wesley Dafoe Award for Politics

WinnerRobert Fife and Steven Chase, Globe and Mail, for their months-long investigation into Chinese interference in the 2021 federal election.

FinalistsCharlie PinkertonJack Hauen and Jessica Smith Cross, The Trillium, for their reporting on the influence of land developers in Ontario politics; Althia Raj, Toronto Star, for her series of podcasts on a range of topics, including the housing crisis, Canada and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how social media is changing politics.


WinnerJeremy Agius, Globe and Mail, for his portfolio of work on migration routes, the electric vehicle battery business and Inuit survivors of tuberculosis.

FinalistsSusan KaoMcKenna Hart and Tania Pereira, Toronto Star, for their whimsical presentation of Toronto’s century-old raccoon problem; The Narwhal, for a portfolio of work on Ontario’s proposed Highway 413, the Ontario Greenbelt and a bird’s eye view of Alberta’s oilsands.

John Honderich Award for Project of the Year

Winner: Globe and Mail, for Secret Canada, an investigation into Canada’s problematic access to information system and the creation of an online database to house completed access requests from across the country.

Finalists: La Presse, for their work on the affordable housing crisis in Quebec, where the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says almost 1.2 million homes need to be built by the end of the decade; St. John’s Telegram, for their investigation into the shocking living conditions at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary: rodent infestations, health-threatening mould, cells with broken toilets and no running water, and a shortage of staff and programs.

Bob Levin Award for Short Feature

WinnerJane Sims, London Free Press, for her story on Salman Afzaal, who along with his family was killed by a white nationalist, and how the Afzaals touched so many lives in different ways.

FinalistsHiren Mansukhani, Calgary Herald/Calgary Sun, for his short feature highlighting the challenges faced by two families forced to flee the wildfires in YellowknifeGrant Robertson, Globe and Mail, for his story on a small Ottawa church that began distributing naloxone to its congregation — and started saving lives.

Special Topic: Journalism in a Language other than French or English

Winner: Sing Tao, for their four-part series Embracing Canada, on the challenges faced by the second wave of immigrants from Hong Kong.

FinalistsDavid Venn, Nunatsiaq News, for his four-part series from the Kivalliq region, examining the old Government of the Northwest Territories’ Homeownership Assistance Program. Stories translated by Maaki KakkikJoe VolpeFrancesco Veronesi and Mariella Policheni, Corriere Canadese, for a portfolio of work, including the harrowing story of a Toronto couple across a series of hospitals after their baby was born.


Winners: Alexandre Pratt, La Presse, for columns on: a group of Laurentian hockey moms who played in front of hundreds in FranceQuebec hockey players appearing on stamps around the world without their knowledge, and a call for colleges and universities to organize a major event around women’s sports.

FinalistsRachel Brady, Globe and Mail, for a trio of stories on under-reported aspects of sports, including blind hockey, competing while menstruating, and dealing with cancer as an athlete; Nancy Macdonald, Globe and Mail, for her profile of teen surfing prodigy Erin Brooks, a Texas-born phenom with Quebec roots who trains in Hawaii and competes for Canada.

Sports Photo

WinnerMelissa Tait, Globe and Mail, for her euphoric photo from the sparkly, high-energy world of competitive cheer.

Finalists: Andrew Lahodynskyj, Canadian Press, for his photo of Adam Hadwin being tackled at the Canadian Open as Nick Taylor celebrated his historic victory; John Woods, Winnipeg Free Press, for his photo of Dawn Neal after she won the Manitoba Marathon women’s division as a competitor dropped behind her.

Sustained News Coverage

Winners: Toronto Star and The Narwhal, for their joint efforts in exposing crucial details about the Ontario government’s plans to develop the Greenbelt, including connections between the premier and developers.

FinalistsLori CulbertKatie DeRosa and Dan FumanoVancouver Sun/The Province, for their work on the affordable housing crisis, which now impacts every facet of the housing sector in B.C.; Robert FifeSteven ChaseAndrew CoyneJames Griffiths and Patrick Brethour, Globe and Mail, for their year-long commitment to exposing foreign interference by China and other countries.

Special Recognition Citation

Climate Disaster Project, for their teaching newsroom based out of the University of Victoria, their investigations into climate disasters, and their first-person accounts of survivors. Educators, partners and students whose work was published in 2022 or 2023 include:
University of Victoria Sean HolmanAldyn ChwelosDavid LeachJimmy ThomsonTim BlackSarah Marie WiebePatti SonntagKristen de JagerJosie HjermstadSandy IbrahimJordan KovacsAlexandra LainfiestaAshlee LevyMichael John LoHannah SeatonTosh SherkatSarah SulemanSophie ThomasPaul Voll
Humber College | Lara KingTerra CiolfeTessa Bennett, Maria Kestane, Scott McLaughlin, Antonio Peláez Barceló, James Westman
Campus Journalism Lab | Jhesset Thrina Enano, Kenneth Basilio, Alexandra Elicano, Eduardo Fajermo Jr., AC Himaya Tupas, Melody Jade Soriano
University of British Columbia | Francesca FiondaSara NelsonAleisha LangmannEleni Vlahiotis
First Nations University of Canada | Patricia ElliottAmber BearChristina GervaisEmilie Wren
Kwantlen Polytechnic University | Tracy SherlockEmma BolznerClaudia CulleyJasna Rowse
Langara College | Erica BulmanEffie KleinSamantha HolomayNicholas Naylor
Mount Royal University | Janice Paskey, Milena Radzikowska, Meg WilcoxBrad ClarkGage Smith
University of King’s College | Terra TailleurLisa TaylorLeslie Amminson
Carleton University | Trish Audette-LongoPippa Norman
MacEwan University | Steve Lillebuen, Julia Archelene Magsombol
Toronto Metropolitan University | Sonya Fatah, Geena Mortfield
University of the Fraser Valley | Michelle Superle, Sydney Marchand
Simon Fraser University | Stuart Poyntz
University of Stirling | Sandra Engstrom
Independent | Phil McLachlanDarren SchuettlerDale BassJulia Kidder, Edith Loring-Kuhanga
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network | Rob SmithPaul Barnsley
Asparagus | Jessie JohnstonSun Woo BaikChristine Fwu, Avvai Ketheeswaran, Tommy Li
Canada’s National Observer | Adrienne TannerLinda Solomon Wood
Fraser Valley Current Tyler Olsen
Megaphone | Julia AokiPaula Carlson
Neworld Theatre | Alen DominguezManuela SosaMary Ancheta
Royal BC Museum | Chris O’Connor
The Tyee | David BeersJens von BergmannNora KellyAndrew MonroeJen Osborne