Politics columnist and presentation-design team win National Newspaper Awards for Toronto Star

The Toronto Star took home two National Newspaper Awards at the third virtual event for the long-running, prestigious awards.

Althia Raj won the John Wesley Dafoe Award for Politics for her columns, including a piece on the Liberals’ federal election campaign. Raj, who joined the Star’s Ottawa bureau in September, interviewed 57 political insiders to put together a captivating inside look at how Justin Trudeau managed to eke out a minority government once again, despite a faltering campaign.

Nathan Pilla, Kelsey Wilson and Tania Pereira won the Presentation/Design award for their work on a piece that changed how the city fights highrise building fires.

The team’s online presentation of the story included animation, 3D modeling, videos and photographs to illustrate how the fire at 200 Wellesley spread, how firefighters tried to get the blaze under control, and what was learned from the disaster.

“This night celebrates the best of Canadian journalism and we are honored to see so much of the Star’s work recognized for its impact and insight,” said Star editor Anne Marie Owens.

The Globe and Mail took home 10 of the 22 prizes, while the Halifax Chronicle Herald and RMO Today each received two.

For the first time, two journalists were named journalists of the year: Améli Pineda and Magdaline Boutros of Le Devoir, who also won the E. Cora Hind Award for Beat Reporting for their work on domestic violence in Quebec. The judges called their work “an eloquent demonstration of journalism’s ability to bring truth to those who hold the power to change society for the better,” according to the press release Friday.

Pineda and Boutros were two of the 17 journalists who won a NNA for the first time at the 2021 awards.

The Star received eight nominations this year, out of the almost 900 entries submitted for work published in 2021. It also shared two nominations, one with the Halifax Chronicle Herald and another with parent company Torstar and the National Observer.

Christine Dobby, Richard Warnica, Jacob Lorinc and Doug Smith were finalists for the Business award for their coverage of the Rogers family’s public feud.

Michael de Adder of the Toronto Star and Halifax Chronicle Herald was a finalist for the Editorial Cartooning award.

Kevin Donovan, nominated three times, and Kelsey Wilson were finalists in the Explanatory Work category for their in-depth look at what happens to a car after it’s stolen.

Donovan was also a finalist for the George Brown Award for Investigations for his work on the death of a toddler which led to the reopening of a cold-case and a murder charge; and in the Sustained News Coverage category for his continuing investigation into the deaths of billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman.

Noor Javed, Steve Buist, Sheila Wang and Emma McIntosh, representing Torstar and the National Observer, were finalists in the John Wesley Dafoe Award for Politics for their investigation into the Ontario government’s ties to developers and controversial proposed highway project.

Joe Callaghan was a finalist in the Sports category for his features on basketballer Kyle Lowry, swimmer Maggie Mac Neil and boxer Muhammad Ali.

And the Star was a finalist for the John Honderich Award for Project of the Year for “What COVID Reveals,” its series about the pandemic’s burden on women, mothers, essential workers, migrants and the homeless.

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