Investigative journalism honoured as National Newspaper Awards winners are announced

TORONTO, May 4, 2018 – In-depth investigations took the spotlight Friday when Canada’s best journalism of 2017 was honoured at the presentation of the National Newspaper Awards.

Among the 21 categories in the annual competition, five were won by ground-breaking investigative efforts – including probes into how police forces deal with sexual assault complaints, a man’s claims of innocence after more than three decades in prison, and Canada’s surprising role as a tax haven for the global elite.

Robyn Doolittle of the Globe and Mail was selected as the winner in the Investigations category for “Unfounded,” which revealed how frequently police forces across the country concluded that sexual assault allegations, even in cases with seemingly strong evidence, did not warrant the laying of charges, or even further investigation. The series, which involved 20 months of painstaking investigation and interviewing by Doolittle, led police forces across the country to re-examine thousands of case files, and reopen hundreds.

In addition to winning the Investigations category, Doolittle was selected by a panel of three former NNA winners as the 2017 Journalist of the Year. Judges said “Unfounded” was exceptional investigative reporting that required a massive amount of research and verification by Doolittle, as well as a respectful approach to the complainants she interviewed. They noted that the series had a major impact across the country by prompting police services to re-examine their approach to investigating allegations of sexual assault.


View the finalists and the winners’ speeches here


Investigative efforts were also honoured in several other categories. The award for Project of the Year went to Dan Fumano and Matt Robinson of the Vancouver Sun, who undertook an extensive probe into the case of a man who maintains his innocence even after spending 34 years incarcerated for killing a child.

The Business category was won by Robert Cribb and Marco Chown Oved of the Toronto Star. Their deep dive into the Panama Papers, a leak of more than 11 million financial and legal documents, uncovered the fact that wealthy people around the world can evade or avoid paying taxes by sheltering their money in Canada.

The International category was won by Isabelle Hachey of La Presse. Her in-depth reporting in Syria uncovered a number of surprising trends, including the makings of a feminist revolution in a world dominated by men, and the rise of democratic impulses in the shadow of dictatorship.

National Post reporter David Akin and columnist Chris Selley were honoured in the Politics category for their investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s secretive holiday trip to a private island owned by the Aga Khan.

Investigative journalism was also honoured in the Sports category. Steve Buist of the Hamilton Spectator won for “Collision Course,” a four-part series that that exposed the impact of concussions on retired Canadian football players.

The Globe and Mail won six of the 21 categories, from among its 18 nominations in 13 categories. The Toronto Star won four, among 12 nominations in eight categories. La Presse also won four, among eight nominations in eight categories.

Other awards were won by the Edmonton Journal, Hamilton Spectator, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, St. Catharines Standard and Vancouver Sun.

For the first time at Friday’s gala, two of the awards presented were named after distinguished journalists: the Norman Webster Award for International Reporting and the Claude Ryan Award for Editorial Writing. Ryan and Webster had long and stellar careers as journalists, and each won a National Newspaper Award.

There were 63 finalists in 21 categories, selected from 881 entries for work published in 2017. The competition is open to daily newspapers, news agencies and online news sites.

The awards were established by the Toronto Press Club in 1949 to encourage excellence and reward achievement in daily newspaper work in Canada. The awards program has been owned and operated by the Canadian Daily Newspaper Awards Programme Administration Corp. since 1989.



The full list of winners and finalists:


Arts and Entertainment

Winner: Eric Andrew-Gee, Globe and Mail, for an attempt to reconstruct the disputed and tangled Indigenous heritage of renowned Canadian author Joseph Boyden.

Finalists: Robert Cribb and Marco Chown Oved, Toronto Star; Stephanie Nolen, Globe and Mail.


Beat Reporting

Winner: Sean Fine, Globe and Mail, for an examination of Canada’s judicial system after time limits on criminal proceedings were imposed by the Supreme Court.

Finalists: Marina Strauss, Globe and Mail; Caroline Touzin, La Presse.


Breaking News

Winner: La Presse, for team coverage of an attack by a white supremacist on the Centre culturel islamique de Québec in Ste-Foy that left six worshippers dead.

Finalists: Globe and Mail team; Bryan Passifiume, Calgary Herald/Calgary Sun.



Winner: Robert Cribb and Marco Chown Oved, Toronto Star, for reports revealing that Canada is a tax haven for foreigners looking to hide their money.

Finalists: Nicholas Keung, Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Jennifer Wells, Jim Rankin and Kelsey Wilson, Toronto Star; Grant Robertson and Tom Cardoso, Globe and Mail.



Winner: Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal.

Finalists: Lawrence Martin, Globe and Mail; Melissa Martin, Winnipeg Free Press.


Editorial Cartooning

Winner: Bruce MacKinnon, Halifax Chronicle Herald.

Finalists: Serge Chapleau, La Presse; Malcolm Mayes, Edmonton Journal.


Claude Ryan Award for Editorial Writing

Winner: Christina Spencer, Ottawa Citizen.

Finalists: Jackson Doughart, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal; Tony Keller, Globe and Mail.


Explanatory Work

Winner: Kate Allen, Toronto Star, for a story that looked at the effects of climate change not on humans, but on other residents of this planet, from bumblebees to shrubs.

Finalists: Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun; Jennifer Yang, Toronto Star.


Feature Photo

Winner: Olivier Jean, La Presse, for a photograph of a beehive being fumigated.

Finalists: Mike Deal, Winnipeg Free Press; Ashley Fraser, Ottawa Citizen/Ottawa Sun.


Norman Webster Award for International Reporting

Winner: Isabelle Hachey, La Presse, for a series of stories about the war in Syria.

Finalists: Stephanie Nolen, Globe and Mail; Nathan VanderKlippe, Globe and Mail.



Winner: Robyn Doolittle, Globe and Mail, for an investigation revealing that police across Canada concluded no crime had occurred in nearly one-fifth of all sexual-assault complaints – twice the frequency of other assault allegations.

Finalists: Isabelle Hachey, Yvon Laprade, Gabrielle Duchaine and Agnès Gruda, La Presse; Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy, Toronto Star.


Local Reporting

Winner: Grant LaFleche, St. Catharines Standard, for a series of stories on the impact of child abuse by a Roman Catholic priest.

Finalists: Randy Richmond, London Free Press; Amy Smart, Victoria Times Colonist.


Long Feature

Winner: Jesse Winter, Toronto Star, for tracing the heartbreaking story of a man, raped as a child by his uncle, who was failed by family, friends, governments and the justice system.

Finalists: Katie Daubs, Toronto Star; Richard Warnica, National Post.


News Photo

Winner: Ian Willms, Globe and Mail, for a photograph of an asylum seeker from Nigeria fleeing to Canada on a cold, dark night.

Finalists: Darryl Dyck, Canadian Press; Larry Wong, Edmonton Journal/Edmonton Sun.


Photo Portfolio/Essay

Winner: Martin Tremblay, La Presse, for an essay documenting the story of refugees crossing the border shortly after the election of Donald Trump left them feeling threatened down south.

Finalists: Todd Korol, Globe and Mail; Ian Willms, Globe and Mail.



Winner: David Akin and Chris Selley, National Post, for coverage of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s secret visit to a private island owned by the Aga Khan.

Finalists: Robert Cribb, Marco Chown Oved and Alex Boutilier, Toronto Star; Noor Javed and Kristin Rushowy, Toronto Star.



Winner: Jeremy Agius and Matthew French, Globe and Mail.

Finalists: Patrick Bertrand, Henri Michaud and Benoit Dussault, Le Journal de Montreal; Team, Toronto Star.


Project of the Year

Winner: Dan Fumano and Matt Robinson, Vancouver Sun, for an investigation into the case of Phillip Tallio, who still maintained his innocence after 34 years of incarceration for the murder of a child.

Finalists: Jane Sims, Morris Lamont, Brice Hall and Mike Faille, London Free Press; Doug Speirs and Ruth Bonneville, Winnipeg Free Press.


Short Feature

Winner: Marcus Gee, Globe and Mail, for explaining what the death of a small-city newspaper would really mean for that community.

Finalists: Ingrid Peritz, Globe and Mail; Philippe Teisceira-Lessard, La Presse.



Winner: Steve Buist, Hamilton Spectator, for “Collision Course,” a series of stories that explored the impact of concussions on retired Canadian football players.

Finalists: Marty Klinkenberg, Globe and Mail; Sunaya Sapurji, the Athletic.


Sports Photo

Winner: Andrew Francis Wallace, Toronto Star, for a photograph of a rugby player with a badly mangled finger.

Finalists: Nathan Denette, Canadian Press; Michael Robinson, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.


All finalist entries can be viewed at the NNA website (



For more information, contact:

Paul Woods

Executive Director

National Newspaper Awards