Hillman Prize for Canadian Investigative Journalism

I was one of the three judges for the inaugural Canadian incarnation of the Hillman Prize for Investigative Journalism.  Sidney Hillman was a founding organizer of the garment union in the U.S., and left a legacy that has been used to fund an annual U.S. award for reporters who take the time & risk to dig up the real dirt on modern capitalism.  Now, thanks to the efforts of the folks at Workers United (the 4th-generation manifestation of Hillman’s original union), the prize is being awarded in Canada as well.

Here is a link to a web site on the prize and the first winners.

The winner of the first prize was Stephen Buist from the Hamilton Spectator, for an extaordinary series of articles he researched and wrote on inequality in Hamilton, called “Code Red.”  This series is a significant contribution to our understanding of the social determinants of health.  It collects and analyzes reams of data at the postal code and census district level, on income, wealth, employment, health outcomes, life expectancy, experience with the criminial justice system, violence, and other dimensions of life.

It’s most startling factoid was the the life expectancy in Hamilton’s poorer neighbourhoods is akin to a Third World country — roughly equvalent to Pakistan.  And there was a 21-year gap in life expectancy between the poorest and richest neighbourhoods in Hamilton.

This is academic-calibre research, but phrased in an accessible, readable manner.  It’s had a real impact already on debates in Hamilton, and at Queen’s Park, regarding poverty and what we are prepared to do about it.  Here is the site that links to the whole Code Red series.

Congratulations Stephen, and thank you for this important contribution to our understanding of the social determinants of health!

As a judge, I reviewed many other fine examples of brave, principled investigative journalism going on in Canada, and I was surprised and encouraged by their quality.  We gave honourable mention to a very impactful series from the Winnipeg Free Press on the lack of drinking water in First Nations communities located just an hour’s drive from Winnipeg.  In this era of profit-driven cost-cutting journalism, not to mention the dumbing-down effect of much internet-based media, it’s wonderful that this type of journalism still exists (although not nearly enough of it).  Thanks to Workers United for helping to give it the profile it deserves.

3 comments

  • Thanks for this Jim. The Hamilton Spectator piece, Worlds Apart, was revealing and disturbing and I hadn’t read it.
    Conservatives of varying stripes are quite deliberately sending us increasingly into a very nasty rich/poor divide.
    And it’s unnecessary: we have the ability to mobilise people and resources to provide a good life for everyone in Canada. But only if we chose to do it.

  • These types of initiatives are very very important.

  • I am desperately searching for an investigative journalism to write a story on my investigation and one of a Private investigator whom I hired. It is in regards to the murder of Canadian Major David Turenne and the wrongful conviction of Monique Turenne. If you have someone you know who would be interested in putting together my story and that of Monique Turenne, please forward my name and contact number (204) 254-5147. I have written a pitch which would facilitate this story and indicate all the evidence and affadavits accumulated in the last 2 years. This story has a great potential as I am certain that this story will appear in the news media very very shortly. Therefore someone needs to be ready to start working with me to put this compelling story together. Louise Young

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