National Newspaper Awards invites applications to join Board of Governors

Preference for the two unpaid positions will be given to candidates who can help advance the organization’s mission to make the annual competition more diverse and inclusive

TORONTO, February 21, 2022 – The National Newspaper Awards is inviting applications from individuals interested in joining its Board of Governors.

The Board, which provides direction and oversight of the annual competition, comprises 20 members who serve on a voluntary basis. Seven members represent Canadian newspapers, seven represent other parts of Canada’s news industry, and six are “at-large” representatives. Five of the “at-large” positions have recently been earmarked for individuals and groups that help diversify the Board’s membership and amplify voices and viewpoints that have not been heard in the past.

Two of those positions are allocated to associations, and one to a journalist of Indigenous descent. Those positions are currently held by Dexter Brown (Canadian Association of Black Journalists), Jason Chiu (Canadian Journalists of Colour) and Jim Compton (a longtime broadcaster and one of the founders of APTN).

For the two vacant positions we are seeking to fill, preference will be given to candidates who can provide perspective and input on behalf of equity seeking groups, in particular individuals who self-identify as BIPOC and/or LGBTQ2S+.

Governor positions are unpaid. Appointments are for three years and may be renewed for an additional three years. The Board of Governors meets three times each year (January, May and September). Meetings typically last about two hours and are conducted through remote conferencing. There are a few standing committees, including one that examines ways to make the contest more reflective of Canada’s diversity, and one that annually reviews rules, categories, eligibility requirements and judging procedures.

Anyone interested in applying to serve on the Board of Governors should send an email outlining their qualifications, background, interests and any other relevant information by March 11 to Paul Woods, Executive Director, exec@nna-ccj.ca.

 

Diversity and Inclusiveness

Over the past year, the National Newspaper Awards has examined its history and operations, concluded that the program has not been reflective of Canada’s diversity, and made a commitment to have the competition become more diverse and inclusive. A number of early changes flowed from that commitment. Here’s a look at these initiatives and a preliminary evaluation of their impact:

  • Fees were reduced for freelance journalists who entered the competition independently, and for journalists in digital news organizations, outside the traditional realm of newspapers. Those journalists were charged $20 per entry this year, compared to fees of $40 and $50 for entries from traditional news organizations. This resulted in a greater number of freelance and digital entries in this year’s competition than in past years.
  • We encouraged eligible news organizations, from both the traditional newspaper realm and the digital world, to submit the best work done by journalists from equity-seeking groups, including BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+. We are researching how we might be able to collect reliable demographic information about entrants, while also ensuring privacy and the integrity of the awards program.
  • We set out to expand our pool of judges so that it better represents Canada’s diverse nature. In addition to using existing channels to recruit and retain judges, we publicly solicited new judges in an effort to expand and diversify the pool. We also reached beyond the usual groups (retired and inactive journalists, communications professionals, broadcast journalists and journalism educators ) to seek out individuals who would not have been considered in the past but who could bring the sort of thoughtful deliberation required from judges. As a result of these steps, the pool of prospective judges for this year was larger than ever – 120 individuals available for 66 positions. Another four dozen individuals declined to volunteer this year but asked to remain on the list for future years. Although there is currently no information available on how judges self-identify, we believe we have established a foundation for growth in the diversity of voice and opinion on our judging panels.
  • We sought viable candidates from equity-seeking groups as we moved to fill upcoming vacancies in the two positions that operate and administer the program, Executive Director and Program Director. These positions, which are part-time, did not attract many applications, and we did not succeed in the goal of developing a large, diverse pool of candidates. However, both roles have been filled by strong candidates.
  • We revamped the Board of Governors to earmark five positions for individuals and organizations from equity-seeking groups. As noted above, three positions have been filled and we are now looking to fill the remaining two vacancies.

Other possible changes continue to be discussed. The individuals selected to join the Board will be strongly encouraged to take an active role in those discussions, and to bring new ideas to the table.

The National Newspaper Awards were established in 1949 by the Toronto Press Club to encourage excellence and reward achievement in Canadian daily newspaper journalism. The contest is also open to Canadian news agencies and other organizations (outside of broadcasting and magazine publishing) that publish original content at least five days a week. The NNAs moved to an independent, not-for-profit governance structure in 1989. The program is funded through annual fees paid by benefactor organizations, entry fees and sponsorships.

 

For more information, contact:

Paul Woods

Executive Director

National Newspaper Awards

exec@nna-ccj.ca

905-719-8675