|For immediate release||November 29, 1999|
CBC Radio News Reporters, Monday Magazine writer named winners of Law Society's journalism awards
VANCOUVER – The Law Society of B.C.’s Award for Excellence in Legal Journalism competition has produced two winning entries – which is good news for three journalists. The Law Society offers prizes of $1,500 for the best story in each of two categories – print and electronic.
This year CBC Radio News reporters Laura Lynch and Jack Sullivan won the Law Society’s electronic award for their seven-part series "Regina v. O’Connor Settlement." Their joint coverage provided British Columbians with up-to-the-minute information about a criminal justice settlement never seen before in the courtroom. From breaking the news that a settlement between Bishop O’Connor and the residential school victims was imminent, to examining the issue of "healing circles" vs incarceration, Laura and Jack gave balanced coverage and accurate legal reporting on the substantive legal issues while demonstrating sensitivity to the parties involved in the suit. The judges thought the series of news reports was relevant to the public interest, well researched, and as one judge described it "excellent reporting of a legal issue that simply, had no precedent or frame of reference".
The judges recommended that freelance writer Jenny Manzer’s Monday Magazine feature story, "SLAPPed into Silence – Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation" receive the Law Society’s print award. In her story, Jenny chronicles the war of words between a Vancouver developer and a feisty group of community activists, the Rural Association of East Sooke, and the consequent defamation suit launched by the developer against those fifteen people who fought him publicly through the media over his land-use plan. From there, Jenny described in detail the nature of SLAPP suits, their use in Canada and the US, and what they mean to the public participation process, the basic tenets of free speech and the right to public debate vs one’s right to sue against defamation. In selecting this entry as the winner, the judges acknowledged the importance and relevance of public participation activity in BC and thought Jenny’s article raised the issue in a timely, well-documented way.
Law Society President Warren Wilson congratulated the winners at the Law Society’s Law & the Media workshop on November 13, 1999 in Vancouver and recognized "the quality of legal reporting by them and all award winners over the past eleven years. We are looking forward to handing out our Webster awards from now on," Wilson said.
For the past eleven years, the Law Society has awarded prizes for the best stories broadcast or published by a British Columbia-based media organization. The stories must deal with some aspect of the law, the administration of justice, or the legal profession in the province. In deciding the winners, the judges are also asked to consider the accuracy and effectiveness of the entry in helping to explain legal issues to the public. Judges this year were lawyer Mari Worfolk, journalist and consultant Scott Macrae, public affairs consultant Norman Stowe and Lawyers’ Weekly Vancouver Bureau Chief Brad Daisley.
In 2000, the Law Society journalism awards will be administered by the Jack Webster Foundation as the Webster Award for Excellence in Legal Journalism, sponsored by the Law Society of British Columbia.
For more information contact:
Elizabeth Cordeau, Public Affairs Manager
604-443-5724 or 1-800-903-5300 toll-free in B.C.