Joanna Slater

Joanna Slater of the Globe and Mail accepts the award for Journalist of the Year during the National Newspaper Awards in Edmonton on Friday May 27, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Two days before newspapers around the world published the shocking photo of three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s drowned body, Globe and Mail journalist Joanna Slater arrived in Budapest to cover the refugee crisis in depth. She had followed her instincts and found herself in the right place at exactly the right time.

But it’s what she did next that makes Slater worthy of being selected as 2015’s Journalist of the Year.  She produced several months of exceptional reporting that took Canadians inside Europe’s swelling refugee camps and into the homes of sponsors, thereby heightening our awareness of the strains dividing Europe.

She travelled by train, bus and on foot, giving us the poignant story of three Syrian brothers and the tale of a German retiree’s friendship with a young Syrian refugee. Slater showed there is no substitute for being on the ground. Her writing allowed us to smell the fear of the dispossessed, to experience the uncertainty and heartbreak of a continent in turmoil.

Her reporting also played out against the backdrop of a Canadian election, in which refugee issues featured prominently. In short, Slater’s reporting was timely, significant, deeply moving and memorable – the exemplars of great journalism.