Eastern Door journalists Daniel J. Rowe and Jessica Deer took home second place for their investigative reporting on membership issues. (Courtesy QCNA)
For the second year in a row an Eastern Door journalist has won the Paul Dumont-Frenette award for journalist of the year, making history in the process.
Assistant editor Daniel J. Rowe followed on the heels of editor/publisher Steve Bonspiel in winning the prestigious Quebec Community Newspapers Association’s biggest award, garnering three first place wins for best business story, best education story and best environmental story.
The QCNA judge wrote, about Rowe’s best business story win where he chronicled the First Nations Winery court case:
“What makes this story stand out is solid reporting and clear navigation through the reeds of a curious legal case that has implications beyond the plight of the local businessman on trial.
“Rowe has served his readership well by offering a well-sourced and well-balanced account of a legal dilemma particular to his local business community.”
Rowe was taken aback by the accolades.
“It was kind of overwhelming hearing such kind words read about my work and work ethic leading up to the award,” he said.
“Very few people see how much work we all put in, stress we’re under, abuse we take sometimes, but also joy at seeing a quality product come out that the community is proud of.”
Rowe also finished second in best business column or feature for the Chateauguay boycott attempt by the Mohawk Council, and rounded it off with a co-second place prize with reporter Jessica Deer for best investigative piece on the lawsuit launched against Council over residency rights of non-Natives in Kahnawake.
“Daniel was working so hard for this moment, for this recognition, and now he’s accomplished something few ever do in their careers – in four short years,” said Bonspiel.
“I’m extremely proud of him and I know it won’t be his last big award. He is the epitome of what a community journalist should be; flexible with his hours, affable, ready to tackle any story – and he also has regular beats that he covers so well.”
In the overall categories, TED took home second place in the following: best website, best feature page, and best community newspaper promotion; along with third place finishes for best editorial page and best sports pages.
“I said it that night and I will say it again; the future of print is bright. It is quite special when you have such talented journalists all under one roof for a special night to honour English-language newspapers in Quebec,” said Bonspiel, who is also QCNA president.
TED was not up for best overall newspaper – for the first time in seven years – and that category was won, once again, by the Suburban.
Deer had an awesome night as well, coming within a hair of winning photojournalist of the year.
Her photo of Dwayne Kirby after Mohawk Council election night last year was called “A strong storytelling moment,” by the judge, and she coupled it with a first place finish in the agricultural category.
“I think this year’s awards really demonstrate my abilities across media,” said Deer. “Having won a first place not only for a story I wrote, but a win in a photography category, and for The Eastern Door to be recognized for our new website really makes me proud.
“I don’t think too many people are aware that I moonlight as a web designer on top of an already busy and sometimes stressful job as a reporter. It’s a lot of hard work that often goes unnoticed, so, to be recognized for that brings rainbows and butterflies to my dark soul,” she said.
Megan Whyte finished second for best editorial cartoon for her lampooning of Justin Trudeau, as the new prime minister won the federal election over Stephen Harper last year.
TED Staff also took home third place for best headline writing, finishing with 14 QCNA awards overall.