Globe and Mail’s Unfounded investigation wins Michener Award

On Tuesday, June 12, The Globe and Mail won the 2017 Michener Award, recognizing public-service journalism for our investigation into how Canadian police handle sexual-assault complaints.

Unfounded was a 20-month long project spearheaded by reporter Robyn Doolittle. Using data gathered from hundreds of police services across the country, the project showed that sexual-assault complaints are twice as likely to be dismissed as unfounded than complaints in other assault cases.

The investigation spurred law-enforcement agencies to review more than 37,000 cases, and some agencies pledged to revamp their approach to policing sexual violence. It also spurred the Federal Government to commit $100m to develop a strategy on gender-based violence.

“The judges concurred that this rigorous, in-depth investigation exemplifies the best in public service journalism and the critical value of media in effecting change,” said Alan Allnutt, president of the Michener Awards Foundation. Governor-General Julie Payette presented Ms. Doolittle with the award at Rideau Hall on Tuesday.

We received three Michener nominations. For Unfounded, Easy Money and Tainted Marijuana. It was the first time in the near 50-year history of the award that a single news organisation has received three nominations in one year.

The Globe’s editor-in-chief, David Walmsley, noted that the success of Unfounded depended on the close collaboration between our editorial and technology and data groups. “Their determination to create solutions for the journalism we want to do makes us cutting edge. The Michener Award on Tuesday and in the future will belong as much to the data team as editorial as we marry ever closer the journalistic gut with the needs of the audience.

According to Ms. Doolittle, newsrooms as far away as New Zealand are following our model.

“Our chosen path of journalism is not the easy road and nor should it be. We make tough decisions all the time but last night it was clear we got it right. Our journalism is having a global impact and the credit awarded The Globe and Mail was a privilege we share with everyone who works for this special place”. 

David Walmsley

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