Local Xpress, the news site run by striking Chronicle Herald staff, has been nominated for six Atlantic Journalism Awards — twice as many as Nova Scotia’s “paper of record” that’s being produced by scabs.
It must have been a blow for Mark Lever, CEO of the Halifax Herald, who promised readers last June that, despite the then five-month-old strike, the paper would be deepening its coverage of issues and adding “national award-winning journalists to our team.”
(Two of the Herald’s three nominations are for editorial cartooning by Bruce MacKinnon and Michael de Adder, both of whom are contractors.)
Five of the six Local Xpress nominations are for photography, which is ironic considering that the Herald plans to get rid of all of its photojournalists when the labour dispute is over.
Xpress photo editor, Ryan Taplin, himself a nominee in the spot news category for his shot of a brawl outside a Halifax courtroom, said he’s happy for everyone associated with the news site.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do under the circumstances that we find ourselves in. It’s been really tough for everyone involved. It does feel really good to get recognized for the work that we do.”
The AJAs honour outstanding journalism in print, online, television and radio.
Local Xpress photographers dominated the nominations in the photojournalism feature category, with Tim Krochak receiving two nominations: one for a photo of an anti-violence vigil and the other for two people playing Pokemon Go during a lightning storm. Christian Laforce was nominated for a photo of a flamenco dancer teaching her art to seniors and Ted Pritchard earned one for his photo of the Colombian tall ship ARC Gloria.
Reporters Frances Willick and Michael Gorman, who now works at CBC, were nominated in the business reporting category for their story on the reopening of the Donkin mine.
Editor Pam Sword praised the efforts of the site’s journalists.
“I’m so pleased and humbled with our six AJA nominations, especially since the Local Xpress has been in existence for only a year,” she said. “The depth of reporting that went into Frances’ and Michael’s story is exemplary and may have resulted in a change of management at the Donkin mine.
“The fact that five out of the seven nominations for photojournalism went to Xpress photographers is hugely rewarding and a testament both to our photographers’ talent and their tenacity. Even though we were forced out on strike by The Chronicle Herald over 14 months ago, these folks have never stopped doing journalism.”
Local Xpress was among the media outlets with at least half a dozen nominations and has the highest number of any in Nova Scotia. The Telegraph-Journal had seven, and CBC NL, CBC NB and Radio-Canada Acadie also received six nominations each.
In addition to those in the Halifax Typographical Union, Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, congratulated members named as finalists who work at the CBC, The Canadian Press, Fredericton Daily Gleaner, Moncton Times & Transcript and the Saint John Telegraph-Journal.