QCT receives five awards at the QCNA awards ceremony

Photo: Photo by Jerod Merkle

The Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph's Bethann Merkle, Shirley Nadeau and Danielle Burns (with baby Stella), proudly display the Certificates of Excellence they won at the recent QCNA Better Newspapers Competition in Saint-Sauveur. Four-month-old Stella Dubé won the hearts of many as the best baby at the event.

High-school graduates weren't the only ones bringing home certificates this past weekend. Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph journalists Danielle Burns and Bethann Merkle and copy editor/journalist Shirley Nadeau won top prizes in five categories of the Quebec Community Newspaper Association's 34th annual Better Newspapers Competition. The QCNA held the awards ceremony on Friday, June 6, at the luxurious Manoir Saint-Sauveur, in the town of Saint-Sauveur north of Montreal.

Thirty-four community newspapers, from the Eastern Townships to Nunatsiaq in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and Gatineau in the south, submitted entries to the competition from their 2013 editions. Most of them are unilingual English newspapers, but a few are bilingual (French and English), one is in Inuktitut and English, another, in Hebrew and English.

The top three nominees in each category were invited to attend the awards ceremony, at which time first-, second- and third-place winners were announced.

Bethann Merkle was presented with a first-place Certificate of Excellence for the Best Business Column or Feature for her article about the Bordeaux Wine Festival, which appeared in the September 4, 2013, edition. The judge remarked that "winemaking is both an art and a science, and [Merkle] provides an in-depth look..."

Merkle also won second place for the Best Investigative or In-depth Reporting for her series about conserving Quebec's caribou. The judge was particularly impressed by how the series "not only looked at scientific study but also painted a picture of the researchers behind the science."

Danielle Burns won second place for the Best Feature Photo, a photo of the Petit-Champlain area that appeared on the front page of the Christmas 2013 edition. This category's judge stated that, thanks to Burns's photo, the Petit-Champlain was now on his bucket list.

In a new category, the Burns baby, Stella, won hearts for being the cutest baby at the awards ceremony! Only four months old, she was quiet (and at times asleep), attentive (when awake), and utterly adorable at all times. Sophie Gaulin, co-founder of the Canadian Centenary Newspaper Association was present at the event. She congratulated Burns on bringing her baby up on stage, saying, "I love seeing babies at events like this. It demonstrates that women can be good journalists and good mothers at the same time."

The QCT won second place for the Best Community Newspaper Promotion for our second annual participation in the Great Shoreline Cleanup. An article in the September 25, 2013, edition described the help we received from Naval Reservists. Burns, Merkle and Nadeau accepted the award as all three had worked on the project. The judge commended the QCT for both reaching out to the community and taking an active role in improving it.

The QCT also won third place for the Best Special Section for our special School Edition in February 2013. The judges particularly appreciated that the edition highlighted our community's young students and athletes, and remarked on the number of school ads.
The Low Down to Hull & Back News, which serves the Gatineau Hills area, was named as the Best Overall Newspaper, garnering 13 of 38 first-, second- or third-place certificates of excellence or special awards.

Richard Tardif, executive director of the QCNA, congratulated all the nominees and winners. In his introductory remarks he said, "Through our network we reach over 800,000 readers every week - that is quite an accomplishment - every week! This is why I'm proud to say, Bravo." He continued, "Our membership remains as unique as it was almost 35 years ago. Collectively, we are the primary print media serving official language communities located in Quebec, and as an association, we will continue to advocate for this unique membership."
Steve Bonspiel, president of the QCNA, and an award-winning journalist of The Eastern Door (a paper serving the Mohawk community of Kanesatake) handed out the certificates and awards during the ceremony - on one occasion to himself! Maya Johnson, a reporter for CTV News Montreal, was emcee of the awards ceremony.

François Ouimet, Liberal MNA for Marquette, was the keynote speaker. He said, "Your primary role is to inform, promote and defend the interests of the English-speaking community. Another crucial role is to help the Francophone community understand the concerns of the Anglophone community." He continued, "In the face of the advent of social networks, you may have to reinvent yourselves to ensure your survival and durability."

Charles Taker, of the Office of the Official Languages in the Montreal region, also spoke briefly and congratulated all present for their work for the official languages community of Quebec over the past year.
The Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph is very proud of all of its journalists and congratulates Bethann Merkle, Danielle Burns and Shirley Nadeau on their special awards.