The WCR was honoured for the best designed front page (above) as well as for the best design and layout of an entire issue.

May 18, 2015
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

The Western Catholic Reporter has again been named the top regional Church newspaper in Canada, one of nine awards it received from the Canadian Church Press (CCP) May 1.

The CCP has acknowledged the WCR as the country's first or second best regional Church newspaper seven times in the last nine years.

The WCR also won five awards in the reporting and writing categories – best editorial, best opinion piece, best biographical profile, best in-depth coverage of a news event and a second place award for best columnist.

In the general excellence category, the judge, Toronto Star editorial columnist Carol Goar, lauded the WCR for "its effectiveness in bringing global and national issues to the local level and showing their relevance in Catholics' everyday lives."

The WCR does this consistently with a range of issues such as climate change, the upheaval in Ukraine, end-of-life concerns and sexual addiction, Goar said. "This was supplemented and reinforced by a spirit of open-hearted reflection."

The best editorial award was won by editor Glen Argan for his Sept. 22 editorial, "We must join with aboriginal women in caravan of solidarity." The judge, Steven Heckbert, coordinator of the Algonquin Public Relations program, praised the editorial for providing "an excellent look at a difficult topic.

"This editorial's thoughtful response is well crafted and a worthy part of the national discussion."

'INCREDIBLE VOICE'

Austin Mardon, an occasional contributor to the WCR, scientist and well-known advocate for the mentally ill, won the best opinion piece for his Aug. 25 article, "Science, religion can walk hand in hand."

The brief comment by judge Peter Kavanagh, an author, writer and broadcaster, said Mardon has "a truly incredible voice, presence and authority."

Ramon Gonzalez, the WCR's senior reporter, won the award for the best biographical profile for his May 26 article on Father Kris Schmidt, "He fought the Lord and the Lord won."

Judge Nancy Wood, a national reporter with CBC/Radio Canada in Montreal, praised Gonzalez's story for bringing in voices other than that of Schmidt and for providing a great beginning to the story.

"You don't hesitate to include his frailties and imperfections," Wood said of Gonzalez's profile.

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

Argan also won the award for best in-depth coverage of a news event for his reporting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission national event in Edmonton that was spread over several issues of the WCR.

The judge in the category was Richard Landau, an internationally acclaimed documentary maker and broadcasting executive.

Landau provided lengthy, detailed comments on Argan's package of stories. They included his view that "The emphasis on [residential school] survivors is important, but what distinguishes the writing is that it never descends into pity and does not allow for a loud chorus of simple 'mea culpas.'"

'DRIPS AUTHENTICITY'

Douglas Roche's column Peacemaking Today won the second prize in the category for column writing.

Kavanagh also judged this category and wrote of Roche's columns, "The author's columns drip authenticity and wisdom. His is a voice that has well-earned and deserved gravitas."

In the layout and design portion of the CCP honours, the WCR also was recognized with three awards. The judge in these categories was Gordon Preece,

who has spent 40 years in various aspects of newspaper design with the Winnipeg Free Press, including 28 years as director of editorial art.

The WCR won the award for the best overall design of a newspaper for the fifth time in the last seven years.

This year, Preece said the WCR is characterized by "bold yet not overly aggressive presentation [which] makes this publication a pleasure to look at and read."

BEST FRONT PAGE

Argan won the award for the best-designed front page for the Oct. 20 WCR which featured a large photo and story by reporter Chris Miller.

Preece said the page was "an excellent, clearly-defined front page with great use of typography and art."

Argan also won second place for feature layout and design for a centrespread featuring the Skaro Pilgrimage in the Aug 25 issue. Preece said the mix of five photos and two stories was "a very compelling, strong presentation."