Having a job I enjoy is highly rewarding, but you know what? Awards are pretty rewarding too. A former coworker got in touch with me today to let me know that I am a finalist for three Canadian Community Newspaper Awards for stories I wrote during my internship last summer with the Fort Frances Times. My first though was something along the lines of “woohoo!”
I’ve written plenty of stories that I’m really satisfied with, but I won’t lie, this kind of recognition was particularly exciting. Here are the stories nominated, plus a little bit about each, should you be interested in reading them. All were nominated in the 4,000-9,999 circulation category; I believe the Times’ circulation is around 5,000.
Best Feature Story: “Elderly in need of more care here” (June 8, 2011)
“My mom is going to die in Rainycrest. There’s no doubt about it.”
June Caul is heartbroken when she speaks about her mother. At 87, Mary Caul lives at the local long-term care facility after a series of strokes prompted her family to move her there three years ago.
I pitched this story after a coworker covered town council one day. A seniors advocacy group was suggesting to council that more assisted living options were needed for the aging population in town. There’s an overstressed nursing home and a hospital, but there wasn’t a transitional option for the people who needed a medium amount of help.
It’s the kind of story that, as a 20-something reporter, I initially couldn’t imagine myself being affected by. But once I began talking to people who were affected, whose parents were depressed in the nursing home or whose husbands were one ailment away from needing 24/7 care, it was impossible not to imagine a future where I might not be able to help out someone I love.
Best Historical Story: “Memories abound as Ukrainian Hall closes doors” (July 13, 2011)
Perogy and cabbage roll lovers take heed: the Ukrainian Literary Society Hall, purveyors of Ukrainian culture and edibles for decades, has shut its doors.The hall recently was purchased by Dave Petsnick for “future considerations,” he said in an e-mail.“We had to sell it because we’re just getting too old to run it and we don’t want to cater anymore,” said society president Dorothy Wepruk.
Here’s a tip: If you’re ever in a small town and someone offers to take you to a perogy dinner at the Ukrainian Hall, say yes! Not only did I have the most delicious handmade perogies known to humankind (apologies to your mom and baba, and yes, I will accept dinner invitations to prove me wrong), but I learned the historic Ukrainian Hall was closing down and who was going to buy it. Small towns are great for rumours.
Best Business Story: “Out of the shop, into the sky” (May 18, 2011)
Months of careful planning and meticulously-kept spreadsheets have built up to this: the most fun time of the year for a local fly-in fishing company.
“All the work you’ve done during the winter is coming together,” noted Peter Giles, maintenance manager for Rusty Myers Fly-In Fishing and Hunting Outposts on Sand Bay.
“It’s like a juggling act.”
I was assigned this story a couple of weeks into my internship, and my editor told me it was a story he always meant to do at that time of year, when the float planes were all getting ready for fishing season. After me and a mechanic slogged through the technical side of things, I got to hang around the workshop a bit, but, alas, did not manage to wrangle a flight around northwest Ontario. The story is about more than the seasonal prep, though. That region of Ontario relies heavily on American tourists and increasing border restrictions, plus the high Canadian dollar have been tough on them.
The winners will be announced April 26 in Toronto!