Room Up Front wins inaugural Special Recognition Citation, for work mentoring young, BIPOC photojournalists

Isabelle Hachey of La Presse named Journalist of the Year

TORONTO, May 5, 2023 /CNW/ – Room Up Front, a volunteer-run initiative seeking to combat inequality in the Canadian photojournalism community, received a judges’ special citation at the National Newspaper Awards Friday night.

New this year, the Special Recognition Citation was created as part of an effort to honour journalism that doesn’t fit neatly into the NNA’s existing 23 categories, but had an exceptional impact on the Canadian news industry. It was open to traditional newspapers, broadcasters, digital publishers and organizations like Room Up Front. Unlike the other categories, work could be nominated by people from outside the organization.

The panel of three judges said Room Up Front recognized a problem in the industry and acted on it. Developed by photojournalist Jimmy Jeong, the organization manages a BIPOC mentorship program for young talent within photojournalism and visual storytelling, providing them with training, guidance and support.

“It’s a really deliberate, well thought-out plan that didn’t fit into any of the categories in a neat way,” judges said. “It has legs and it’s going to last and it’s going to continue and we’re going to see the benefit of that moving forward.”

The citation was one of two honours awarded for the first time this year.

A Special Topic award was also added this year to recognize work on topics of particular significance during a calendar year. The focus this year was Indigenous issues and/or climate change.

Gordon Hoekstra, Glenda Luymes and Nathan Griffiths of the Vancouver Sun/The Province won the inaugural award, for their data-driven investigation into the readiness of B.C. communities for a world of increasing fires and floods. They found that most of the 85 communities they surveyed had no plan or finances to strengthen their dikes — and few had done anything to reduce fire risk — despite the raging wildfires, deadly heat dome, and record-setting rainfalls and flooding of 2021. The provincial government responded to their work with a $500-million climate change adaptation plan and $82 million for community flood mitigation.

The Journalist of the Year award went to Isabelle Hachey of La Presse, who was the night’s only double winner. She took home top honours in International Reporting, for her work from Ukraine at the onset of the war, as well as Columns. She also was nominated for Investigations with Marie-Éve Tremblay; that award went to Kelly Grant of the Globe and Mail for her reporting on a tuberculosis outbreak in Nunavut.

Hachey has been nominated 15 times during her career and now has four wins.

Hachey was among 21 category winners considered for recognition as Journalist of the Year. Only individual winners and two-person teams are eligible for the honour.

Other highlights:

  • There were 11 first-time winners this year: Luymes and Griffiths, Vancouver Sun/The Province (Special Topic), Charles-Éric Blais-Poulin and Marissa Groguhé, La Presse (Arts and Entertainment); Stéphanie Grammond, La Presse (Editorials); Juanita Mercer, St. John’s Telegram (Local Reporting); Mahima Singh, Globe and Mail (who teamed with Bill Curry in Politics); Rachel Mendleson, Torstar (who teamed with Steve Buist to win Project of the Year); Emma Gilchrist, Globe and Mail (Long Feature); Rosalyn Roy, National Post (Short Feature); and Robert Skinner, La Presse (General News Photo).

  • Grant Robertson of the Globe and Mail claimed his ninth NNA, setting a record for most career wins. Robertson won the Sports award for his three-part series on Hockey Canada, in which he explored the organization’s finances, the National Equity Fund, and the connection between player fees and sexual assaults. He also was nominated as part of a Globe and Mail team for Sustained News Coverage; that award went to Vincent Larouche of La Presse. Robertson entered the night with eight NNAs, tied with editorial cartoonist Serge Chapleau and reporters Jacquie McNish and Stephanie Nolen.

  • The Globe and Mail led all organizations with nine wins among the 23 categories. La Presse had six, while the Canadian Press, Halifax Chronicle Herald, National Post, St. John’s Telegram, Toronto Star, TorStar and the Vancouver Sun/The Province had one each. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post shared an award.

There were 69 finalists in 23 categories, representing 18 news organizations. Finalists and winners were selected by three-judge panels in each category from 923 entries submitted for work published for the first time in 2022. Entries were submitted by 76 news organizations.

This is the 74th year for the awards program, and the 34th 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.

The complete list of winners and finalists:

Arts and Entertainment

Winner: Charles-Éric Blais-Poulin and Marissa Groguhé, La Presse, for their story on a wave of suicides in the performing arts community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Susan Krashinsky Robertson, Globe and Mail, for an immersive feature on Karen Kain’s final staging of Swan Lake, this time from the director’s chair; Eva Wasney, Winnipeg Free Press, for an in-depth profile of Anishinaabe graphic designer and visual artist Jordan Stranger.

Joan Hollobon Award for Beat Reporting

Winner: Sean Fine, Globe and Mail, for his coverage of the Supreme Court of Canada, delving into its history, political leanings and the impact of its judgements.

Finalists: Katia Gagnon, La Presse, for in-depth coverage of a failing youth protection system in Quebec and how recommendations from a commission of inquiry have yet to be addressed, leaving society’s most vulnerable at risk; Caroline Touzin, La Presse, for on-the-ground reporting on health and social services, highlighting the trauma in under-resourced Montreal hospitals coping with deadly gang violence and the rise in child abuse during the pandemic.

Stuart M. Robertson Award for Breaking News

Winner: Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post, for their reporting on one of Canada’s largest mass killings as it was unfolding in James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Sask.

Finalists: Canadian Press, for coverage of the Freedom Convoy over the 36-hour period after the first trucks arrived in Ottawa; Daniel Renaud, Alice Girard-Bossé and Henri Ouellette-Vézina, La Presse, for coverage of the shocking arrests of three high school basketball coaches accused of sex crimes.

Breaking News Photo

Winner: Steve Russell, Toronto Star, for a photo of a confrontation between police and Freedom Convoy protesters on Parliament Hill.

Finalists: Michelle Berg, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, for a chilling image of a man staring directly at the camera while being arrested; Anton Skyba, Globe and Mail, for his photo of a young girl standing in front of the remnants of an apartment building destroyed during the first night of the war in Ukraine.


Winner: Niall McGee, Globe and Mail, for exclusive reporting on Canada’s critical minerals vulnerabilities against an ever-more-powerful China.

Finalists: Greg McArthur and Andrew Willis, Globe and Mail, for their work on the problematic (and short-lived) appointment of Heather Zordel as chair of the Ontario Securities Commission; Marco Chown Oved, Toronto Star, for exposing the hidden cost of food inflation at supermarkets: corporate greed.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary Award for Columns

Winner: Isabelle Hachey, La Presse, for columns on reporting in Ukraine, Quebec laws that can give rapists parental rights over children born of their crime, and the husband of an Indigenous woman who died in hospital under the racist insults of caregivers.

Finalists: Melissa Martin, Winnipeg Free Press, for columns ranging from global issues (the plight of Ukrainian refugees) to local (accessibility problems in Winnipeg) to personal (the appeal of medical mis-information when facing the death of a loved one); Laura-Julie Perreault, La Presse, for writing on the Russian angle of the war on Ukraine: the Russia she fell in love with as a child, the danger of Vladimir Putin, and Russians who have found refuge in Turkey.

Editorial Cartooning (portfolio)

Winner: Bruce MacKinnon, Halifax Chronicle Herald

Finalists: Michael de Adder, Halifax Chronicle Herald/Toronto Star; Serge Chapleau, La Presse

Claude Ryan Award for Editorial Writing

Winner: Stéphanie Grammond, La Presse, for editorials on the war in Ukraine, the proposed design of an automated light rail network in Montreal, and protection of the French language.

Finalists: Peter McKnight, Toronto Star, for editorials on immigration and detention, the harms of linking mental health and violence, and the 40th anniversary of the Charter of Rights; Peter Scowen, Globe and Mail, for editorials on the rise of “unserious politicians”, premiers who put populist policies over Canada’s values, and liberal democracy.

Explanatory Work

Winner: Kathryn Blaze Baum, Globe and Mail, for laying out the devastating effects of rising temperatures, brought on by climate change, on the human body.

Finalists: Vincent Brousseau-Pouliot, La Presse, for a timely and sensitive analysis of immigration numbers in Quebec; Tyler Olsen, Fraser Valley Current, for an explanatory story on the geographical and political factors that make the Nooksack River, flowing entirely through the United States, such a threat to people living in Sumas Prairie in southwestern B.C.

Feature Photo

Winner: Leah Hennel, Globe and Mail, for her photo of a young Indigenous girl skateboarding in a ribbon skirt at a park in Lethbridge, Alta.

Finalists: Mike Deal, Winnipeg Free Press, for his image of a person lying on a bench beside a bus shelter, which a city councillor proposed to dismantle to stop homeless people from gathering; Steve Russell, Toronto Star, for a photo of a child leaping while a father laments a lack of daycare benefits.

General News Photo

Winner: Robert Skinner, La Presse, for a photo of a young homeless man doing a cartwheel while hospitalized in a COVID unit.

Finalists: Nathan Denette, Canadian Press, for a photo of Pope Francis apologizing to Indigenous elders and survivors of residential schools; Dustin Patar, Canadian Press, for an image of people in Iqaluit collecting water through holes carved in the ice of a river.

Norman Webster Award for International Reporting

Winner: Isabelle Hachey, La Presse, for her feature reports from Ukraine at the beginning of the war.

Finalists: Mark MacKinnon, Globe and Mail, for ongoing coverage of the war in Ukraine; Allan Woods, Toronto Star, for coverage from Russia of the lead-up to the war in Ukraine and Russian reaction to the invasion.

George Brown Award for Investigations

Winner: Kelly Grant, Globe and Mail, for her investigation into a tuberculosis outbreak in Pangnirtung, Nunavut.

Finalists: Isabelle Hachey and Marie-Ève Tremblay, La Presse, for re-visiting the #MeToo allegations that took down comedian Julien Lacroix in July 2020; Noor Javed, Brendan Kennedy, Jesse McLean and Emma McIntosh, Toronto Star and The Narwhal, for their investigation of Ontario’s decision to remove parcels of land from the Greenbelt, why the parcels were selected, and who had the most to gain.

E. Cora Hind Award for Local Reporting

Winner: Juanita Mercer, St. John’s Telegram, for shining a light on the gender pay gap in Newfoundland and Labrador, one of the worst in Canada.

Finalists: Anne-Lovely Etienne and Camille Dauphinais-Pelletier, 24 Heures, for an investigation into racist behaviour directed at health-care workers at CLSC de Montréal-Nord; Stefan Labbé and Pippa Norman, Glacier Media, for a data-driven series on vehicle emissions and the effectiveness of B.C.’s climate policies.

William Southam Award for Long Feature

Winner: Emma Gilchrist, Globe and Mail, for her first-person feature on the harrowing and heartbreaking reality of terminating a pregnancy for medical reasons.

Finalists: Susan Clairmont, Hamilton Spectator, for a feature on the suicide of a 12-year-old girl who had been bullied for years; Jana G. Pruden, Globe and Mail, for her in-depth feature on Helen Naslund, who was sentenced to 18 years in jail for killing her abusive husband.

John Wesley Dafoe Award for Politics

Winners: Bill Curry and Mahima Singh, Globe and Mail, for exposing major transparency and accountability gaps related to billions of dollars spent each year through federal outsourcing.

Finalists: Fanny Lévesque, La Presse, for a portfolio of work dealing with the impact of Bill 79 on Indigenous families, imposed 16-hour nursing shifts, and the last of the Parti Québécois bastions; Justin Ling, Toronto Star, for his feature on the years-long making of the “Freedom Convoy” protest and organizers’ links to conspiracy theories and anti-government ideologies.

Journalist of the Year

Winner: Isabelle Hachey, La Presse


Winner: Christopher Manza, Globe and Mail, for a portfolio of multimedia stories on figure skater Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, Indonesia’s plan to relocate its capital city, and drought across the Horn of Africa.

Finalists: Carol Linnitt, Arik Ligeti, Ashley Tam, Shawn Parkinson and Jimmy Thomson, The Narwhal, for an interactive, multimedia feature on how Indigenous guardians are reestablishing sovereignty and stewardship of traditional territories; Sandrine Vieira, Cédric Gagnon and Antoine Noreau, Le Devoir, for an interactive feature on species at risk in Quebec, featuring photos, graphics, illustrations, maps and more.

John Honderich Award for Project of the Year

Winner: Rachel Mendleson and Steve Buist, Torstar, for a national investigation on the systemic and growing problem of serious Charter violations.

Finalists: Molly Hayes, Tavia Grant and Elizabeth Renzetti, Globe and Mail, for their solutions-based series on intimate partner violence; Gordon Hoekstra, Glenda Luymes and Nathan Griffiths, Vancouver Sun/The Province, for a data-driven investigation into the readiness of B.C. communities for a world of increasing fires and floods.

Bob Levin Award for Short Feature

Winner: Rosalyn Roy, National Post, for her first-person piece from Port aux Basques, Nfld. as parts of the town were destroyed by Hurricane Fiona.

Finalists: Maria Iqbal, Toronto Star, for her story on the one food item that actually became less expensive in Canada last year: the potato; Patrick White, Globe and Mail, for his feature on a book club at a federal prison near Kingston, Ont.

Special Recognition Citation

Winner: Room Up Front, for a volunteer-run initiative that seeks to combat long-standing inequality in the Canadian photojournalism community through identifying young, BIPOC talent and providing them with training, guidance and support.

Special Topic: Indigenous Issues-Climate Change

Winners: Gordon Hoekstra, Glenda Luymes and Nathan Griffiths, Vancouver Sun/The Province, for their data-driven investigation into the readiness of B.C. communities for a world of increasing fires and floods.

Finalists: The Narwhal, for their integrated coverage of Indigenous issues and climate change and the impact of Indigenous Guardian programs; Julia-Simone Rutgers, The Winnipeg Free Press and The Narwhal, for stories on the everyday impact of climate change on the citizens of Manitoba and, in particular, Winnipeg.


Winner: Grant Robertson, Globe and Mail, for his three-part series on Hockey Canada’s finances, the National Equity Fund, and the connection between player fees and sexual assault.

Finalists: Lori Ewing, Canadian Press, for her persistent coverage of athlete protests against maltreatment and the safe sport crisis in Canada; Cathal Kelly, Globe and Mail, for columns on the Maple Leafs honouring Borje Salming just weeks before he died of ALS, the retirement of Serena Williams, and Alphonso Davies lifting Canada’s men’s soccer team to the world stage.

Sports Photo

Winner: Frank Gunn, Canadian Press, for capturing a collision between Toronto Blue Jays’ shortstop Bo Bichette and centre fielder George Springer.

Finalists: Frank Gunn, Canadian Press, for a photo of a skier flying down Lake Louise on her way to winning a FIS World Cup downhill title; Tim Krochak, Halifax Chronicle Herald, for an overhead image, captured from an ultralight drone, of the start of a race at the Canadian Canoe Kayak sprint trials.

Sustained News Coverage

Winner: Vincent Larouche, La Presse, for ongoing coverage of a secret criminal trial deemed “incompatible with the values of a liberal democracy” by the Quebec Court of Appeal.

Finalists: Sebastian Bron and Katrina Clarke, Hamilton Spectator, for their change-making series of stories prompted by a privacy breach at a Hamilton hospital; Grant Robertson, Robyn Doolittle, Joe Friesen, Colin Freeze and Susan Krashinsky Robertson, Globe and Mail, for exclusive, high-impact coverage of Hockey Canada as it responded to rape allegations against players.

For more information, contact:

Bev Wake
Executive Director
National Newspaper Awards
[email protected]

Andria Samis
Program Director
National Newspaper Awards
[email protected]

SOURCE National Newspaper Awards

Room Up Front wins inaugural Special Recognition Citation, for work mentoring young, BIPOC photojournalists WeeklyReviewer

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