Finalists announced for 2020 National Newspaper Awards

TORONTO, March 18, 2021 – Coverage of COVID-19, from first-person reporting and poignant pictures to deep investigations and scathing editorial cartoons, dominated as finalists for the 2020 National Newspaper Awards were announced.

Nearly half of the finalists are nominated for work that related in some way to the pandemic.

There are 66 finalists from 20 news organizations in 22 categories, including one new category (Sustained News Coverage). Finalists were selected by three-judge panels in each category from 926 entries submitted for work published in 2020.

Winners will be announced by webcast on Friday, May 7, at 7 p.m. ET. The 2020 Journalist of the Year, chosen from among this year’s individual winners, will also be announced then.

The Globe and Mail has the most finalists with 18, including two in each of four categories: International (Norman Webster Award), Investigations (George Brown Award), Presentation and Sports.

Other organizations with multiple finalists are:

  • La Presse with nine
  • The Toronto Star with eight, including one nomination that is shared with the Halifax Chronicle Herald
  • The Canadian Press with eight, including all three finalists in the Breaking News Photo category, and two finalists in both Sports Photo and Feature Photo
  • Le Devoir with four
  • The Halifax Chronicle Herald and National Post each with three; one of the Chronicle Herald’s nominations is shared with the Toronto Star
  • The Winnipeg Free Press and Waterloo Region Record with two each

Other highlights of this year’s nominations:

  • Five individuals are finalists in two categories: Tom Blackwell of the National Post in Business and International (Norman Webster Award); Isabelle Hachey of La Presse in Columns and Long Feature (William Southam Award); Rachel Mendleson of the Toronto Star (nominated along with Star colleagues) in Explanatory Work and Investigations (George Brown Award); Tristan Péloquin of La Presse in Explanatory Work and as part of a team nomination in Politics (John Wesley Dafoe Award); and Grant Robertson of the Globe and Mail in Explanatory Work (along with a Globe colleague) and Investigations (George Brown Award).
  • Grant Robertson has now been a finalist 15 times, tied for the third-most in history.
  • Bruce MacKinnon (Editorial Cartooning) and Mark MacKinnon (Norman Webster Award for International Reporting) are each nominated for the 12th
  • Isabelle Hachey has now been a finalist 11 times.
  • Geoffrey York has his 10th nomination, as part of a Globe and Mail team in the Politics category (John Wesley Dafoe Award).
  • Melissa Martin of the Winnipeg Free Press is a finalist for an eighth time, and a sixth consecutive year.
  • Steve Russell of the Toronto Star is also a finalist for an eighth time.
  • Andrew Vaughan and Frank Gunn, both of the Canadian Press, have each been nominated for a seventh time.
  • Erin Anderssen of the Globe and Mail, Gabrielle Duchaine of La Presse, Darryl Dyck of the Canadian Press and Paul Waldie of the Globe are finalists for a sixth time.
  • The Kenora Miner and News received its first-ever nomination, for Ryan Stelter in the Editorial category (Claude Ryan Award).

This is the 72nd year for the awards program, and the 32nd 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.

Thanks to donations from sponsors, seven of the 22 category awards are named after important figures in the news industry. They are:

  • George Brown Award for Investigations (sponsored by the Globe and Mail)
  • John Wesley Dafoe Award for Politics (sponsored by Ron Stern)
  • Cora Hind Award for Beat Reporting (sponsored by the Nellie McClung Heritage Site)
  • Bob Levin Award for Short Feature (sponsored by the Globe and Mail)
  • Claude Ryan Award for Editorial Writing (sponsored by the Ryan family)
  • William Southam Award for Long Feature (sponsored by the Southam family)
  • Norman Webster Award for International Reporting (sponsored by the Webster family)

Finalists in all categories:


Arts and Entertainment / Culture

  • Améli Pineda, Le Devoir, for an investigation into accusations by nine women about assault or sexual misconduct by comedian Julien Lacroix.
  • Johanna Schneller, Globe and Mail, for columns tackling the subject of gender identity and gender politics in the arts world.
  • Jean Siag, La Presse, for articles about sexual abuse and misconduct in the circus industry.


E. Cora Hind Award for Beat Reporting / Prix E. Cora Hind pour Journalisme spécialisé

  • Aaron Derfel, Montreal Gazette, for his work on the health and COVID-19 beat.
  • Leah Gerber, Waterloo Region Record, for her work on the environment beat, with a focus on the Grand River watershed.
  • Ariane Lacoursière, La Presse, for her work covering health and in particular COVID-19.


Breaking News / Nouvelle de dernière heure

  • The Canadian Press for coverage of the shocking killing rampage that left 22 people dead in Nova Scotia.
  • The Globe and Mail for coverage of the shooting down of a passenger jet in Iran that killed 176 people, including dozens of Canadians.
  • The Toronto Star for coverage of the shooting down of a passenger jet in Iran that killed 176 people, including dozens of Canadians.


Breaking News Photo / Photo de nouvelle de dernière heure

  • Darryl Dyck, Canadian Press, for a photograph of two men clashing at a Black Lives Matter protest in Vancouver.
  • Andrew Vaughan, Canadian Press, for a photo of the body of Gabriel Wortman, shot and killed by police at a gas station after he killed 22 people during a 13-hour rampage in Nova Scotia.
  • Chris Young, Canadian Press, for a picture showing the anguish of a man as authorities broke up an encampment inhabited by homeless persons in downtown Toronto.


Business / Économie

  • Tom Blackwell, National Post, for a report connecting the dots between the demise of Nortel and the rise of Huawei.
  • Kathryn Blaze Baum, Tavia Grant and Carrie Tait, Globe and Mail, for shining a light on how the health and safety of some workers in Canada’s food-supply chain were compromised during the pandemic.
  • Kenyon Wallace, Marco Chown Oved, Ed Tubb and Brendan Kennedy, Toronto Star, for uncovering the fact that death rates from COVID-19 were higher in for-profit homes than in other types of long-term care residences.


Columns / Chronique

  • Isabelle Hachey, La Presse
  • André Picard, Globe and Mail
  • Richard Warnica, National Post


Editorial Cartooning / Caricature

  • Michael de Adder, Halifax Chronicle Herald/Toronto Star
  • Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator
  • Bruce MacKinnon, Halifax Chronicle Herald


Claude Ryan Award for Editorial Writing / Prix Claude Ryan pour Éditorial

  • François Cardinal, La Presse
  • Heather Persson, Saskatoon StarPhoenix/Regina Leader-Post
  • Ryan Stelter, Kenora Miner and News


Explanatory Work / Texte explicatif

  • Kate Allen, Rachel Mendleson, Jennifer Yang and Andrew Bailey, Toronto Star, for using graphics, maps and enterprising analysis to upend assumptions about how COVID-19’s first wave spread through Toronto.
  • Tristan Péloquin, La Presse, for concretely explaining the risks and pitfalls associated with artificial intelligence technologies such as facial recognition.
  • Kathy Tomlinson and Grant Robertson, Globe and Mail, for mining public health documents to ask a critical question in the early days of COVID-19: “How well did the Canadian government follow its own plans”?


Feature Photo / Photo de reportage

  • Nathan Denette, Canadian Press, for a photo of a woman hugging her mother through a plastic “hug glove” the woman created so the family could embrace despite COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Steve Russell, Toronto Star, for an image of a couple dining on a restaurant patio despite heavy rainfall.
  • Fred Thornhill, Canadian Press, for a picture of a paddleboarder out for an early-morning paddle on the Trent-Severn waterway.


General News Photo / Photo d’actualité générale

  • Veronica Henri, Toronto Sun, for the poignant image of a mother in a long-term care facility reaching towards her daughter through a window during a separation caused by COVID-19.
  • Jacques Nadeau, Le Devoir, for a photograph of life in a Quebec long-term care facility during COVID-19, including a worker in a “hazmat” suit.
  • Carlos Osorio, Reuters, for a picture that cleverly demonstrated different approaches to COVID-19 in Canada and the U.S.: a Canadian tour boat at Niagara Falls was limited to just six passengers, while an American boat was packed.


Norman Webster Award for International Reporting / Prix Norman Webster pour Reportage à caractère international

  • Tom Blackwell, National Post, for three stories that depicted Oregon’s unique role as an epicentre of human unrest and natural destruction during the U.S. election season.
  • Mark MacKinnon, Globe and Mail, for reporting about how Vladimir Putin has changed Russia, eastern Europe and the entire world.
  • Nathan VanderKlippe, Globe and Mail, for coverage of repression in the Chinese region of Xianjiang.


George Brown Award for Investigations / Prix George Brown pour Grande enquête

  • Tom Cardoso, Globe and Mail, for an investigation that uncovered systemic bias against Indigenous, Black and female prisoners in Canada’s corrections system.
  • Rachel Mendleson and Wendy Gillis, Toronto Star, for delving deeply into how much physical force police officers use against Canadian citizens.
  • Grant Robertson, Globe and Mail, for uncovering considerable evidence that the federal government was unprepared for COVID-19 because its Global Public Health Intelligence Network was no longer functional.


Local Reporting / Reportage à caractère local

  • Karla Meza, Le Devoir, for reports exploring how COVID-19 was especially troublesome for asylum seekers looking to build a new life in Canada.
  • Terry Pender, Waterloo Region Record, for a detailed look at how a member of a Second World War Nazi death squad avoided deportation despite overwhelming evidence, much of it kept hidden from the public.
  • The Saskatoon StarPhoenix for “Abandoned Saskatchewan,” an effort to come to grips with the profound metamorphosis of a province that is proud of its rural roots, yet increasingly urban.


William Southam Award for Long Feature / Prix William Southam pour Reportage élaboré

  • Isabelle Hachey, La Presse, for “Cinq jours en zone rouge,” a first-person account of working in a COVID hospital ward.
  • Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal/Edmonton Sun, for a sombre meditation on receiving, and coming to accept, a diagnosis of inoperable cancer in a year when death seems to be all around.
  • Jana G. Pruden, Globe and Mail, for an in-depth examination of how a case involving 13 counts of sexual assault played out in court, and what that said about how the justice system grapples with such cases.


John Wesley Dafoe Award for Politics / Prix John Wesley Dafoe pour Politique

  • Bill Curry, Marieke Walsh, Paul Waldie, Geoffrey York and Jaren Kerr, Globe and Mail, for an in-depth look at the public policy questions raised by the WE scandal, and at the WE organization itself.
  • Dan Fumano, Vancouver Sun, for reporting on troubling allegations of systemic racism in the Vancouver police force.
  • Katia Gagnon, Kathleen Lévesque and Tristan Péloquin, La Presse, for a definitive portrait of “the man in shadows,” a businessman who is the Quebec Liberal party’s chief fundraiser and power broker.


Presentation/Design / Présentation/Conception graphique

  • Bob Bishop, Toronto Star, for a front-page design that cleverly used the 50 states of the U.S. to illustrate an election that was almost certainly not going to be decided by the time readers got their newspapers.
  • Laura Blenkinsop, Jeremy Agius and Timothy Moore, Globe and Mail, for an interactive approach that helped bring readers close to the experience thousands of Mexican families have had searching for loved ones who disappeared since the start of Mexico’s “war on drugs” 15 years ago.
  • A Globe and Mail team for an immersive experience showcasing photographs that document how Canada and its allies are bracing for an unknown future wrought by climate change in the Arctic.


Project of the Year / Projet de l’année

  • Gabrielle Duchaine and Caroline Touzin, La Presse, for investigating the explosion of child pornography on the Internet, and discovering how predators exchanged advice online about using the pandemic to increase exploitation and abuse of minors.
  • Le Devoir for its efforts to document and investigate how COVID-19 affected almost every facet of life in Quebec in 2020.
  • The Toronto Star for reinventing its newsroom to offer readers a lifeline of information and guidance to help them cope with the worst health disaster Canada has ever faced.


Bob Levin Award for Short Feature / Prix Bob Levin pour Reportage bref

  • Erin Anderssen, Globe and Mail, for her moving account of a long-term care worker who offered comfort to COVID-stricken residents so that they didn’t have to spend their last moments alone.
  • Louise Dickson, Victoria Times Colonist, for a heartbreaking story about a mother’s unrelenting efforts to save her opioid-addicted son.
  • Ben Waldman, Winnipeg Free Press, for turning a focus on one family’s attempt to salvage the hockey season into a look at efforts across the city and country to maintain touchstones in a world turned upside down by COVID-19.


Sports / Sport

  • Michael Doyle, Globe and Mail, for exposing sexual, psychological and physical abuse and manipulation of elite athletes by the most powerful person in Canadian track and field.
  • Cathal Kelly, Globe and Mail, for columns about the Brier curling championship, soccer legend Maradona and the banality of athlete interviews.
  • Melissa Martin, Winnipeg Free Press, for “First Nations Voices, Canada’s Game,” a behind-the-scenes look at APTN’s Hometown Hockey in Cree TV broadcast.


Sports Photo / Photo de sport

  • Jacques Boissinot, Canadian Press, for the image of a freestyle skier tumbling to earth after a jump went wrong.
  • Frank Gunn, Canadian Press, for his photo of a collision between a Toronto Maple Leafs player and a Carolina Hurricanes goaltender.
  • Leah Hennel, Globe and Mail, for a picture of an Olympic water polo athlete training in a makeshift pool made from hay bales and tarps.


Sustained News Coverage / Reportage soutenu

  • Aaron Beswick, Halifax Chronicle Herald, for providing context and analysis of the violence that unfolded on the water and on land in response to the Mi’kmaw’s push to pursue a fishery that would provide a moderate livelihood, as required by Supreme Court rulings.
  • The Globe and Mail for its coverage of the devastation inside Canada’s long-term care homes from the spread of COVID-19.
  • La Presse for its coverage of the crisis that emerged in Quebec’s long-term care accommodation centres from the spread of COVID-19.

Nominated entries can be viewed at the NNA website at The link to the nominated entries can be found on the right side of the home page, just below the photo of the 2019 Journalist of the Year (Randy Richmond of the London Free Press).


For more information, contact:

Paul Woods

Executive Director

National Newspaper Awards