National Newspaper Awards making competition more diverse and inclusive

Dexter Brown

The National Newspaper Awards Board of Governors has announced several initiatives aimed at making the competition more diverse and inclusive. These changes, which flow from a commitment made as part of the 2021 awards ceremony in May, include:

– Reduced fees for freelance journalists who enter the competition independently, and journalists who work for digital news organizations, outside the traditional realm of newspapers. Those journalists will be charged $20 per entry, compared to $50 for entries from traditional news organizations that do not participate in the NNA Benefactor program, and $40 for organizations that do participate as Benefactors

– An outreach campaign aimed at encouraging all eligible news outlets, from both the traditional newspaper realm and digital organizations, to submit the best work done by journalists from equity-seeking groups, including BIPOC and LGBTQ+

– The addition to the Board of a representative of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists (Dexter Brown) and a representative of Indigenous Journalists (Jim Compton). Because two large organizations, Postmedia and Torstar, voluntarily reduced their own representation on the Board, three other positions have recently become vacant. We intend to fill those spots in the coming weeks with journalists who will also provide important perspectives to the Board

– Taking steps to develop a pool of judges that is more representative of Canada’s diverse nature. In addition to using existing channels to recruit and retain judges, we plan to publicly solicit new judges in an effort to expand and diversify the pool

Jim Compton

– Putting a strong emphasis on seeking viable candidates from equity-seeking groups as we move to fill a pending vacancy in one of our administrative positions, Program Director.

Two other initiatives have been discussed by the Board’s Diversity Committee and a new Advisory Panel on Diversity and Inclusiveness. They have not been recommended for approval at this time but are still under consideration:

– Creating a new category to recognize outstanding reporting about racial/social justice issues

– Creating a fellowship to provide a period of employment for an emerging journalist from an equity-seeking group

In addition to diversity initiatives, the NNA Board has also approved two other changes.

 change to the rules governing eligibility for the competition will allow the submission of entries for collaborative work done by multiple individuals, including one or more who would not on their own be eligible to enter the competition. Details of this can be found in the Rules of Entry on the NNA website, specifically Rules 4, 7, 11 and 12.

In response to a significant revenue reduction arising from the elimination of an in-person awards gala due to Covid restrictions, the program is eliminating prize money. Previously, the 22 category winners each received $1,000, and the Journalist of the Year received an additional $2,500.

The National Newspaper Awards were established in 1949 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.