Political columnist and presentation design team win National Newspaper Awards for the Toronto Star

The Toronto Star has won two National Newspaper Awards at the third virtual event for the long-running prestigious awards.

Althia Raj won the John Wesley Dafoe Prize for Politics for her columns, including an article on the Liberals’ federal election campaign. Raj, who joined the Star’s Ottawa bureau in September, interviewed 57 political insiders to paint a gripping inside portrait of how Justin Trudeau managed to maintain a minority government once again, despite a campaign faulty.

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

The team’s online story presentation included animation, 3D modeling, video and photography to illustrate how the fire at 200 Wellesley spread, how firefighters attempted to contain the blaze and what was learned from the disaster.

“This evening celebrates the best in 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 won 10 of the 22 awards, while the Halifax Chronicle Herald and RMO Today won two each.

For the first time, two journalists were named Journalists of the Year: Améli Pineda and Magdaline Boutros from Le Devoir, who also won the E. Cora Hind award from 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 Friday’s press release.

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

The Star received eight nominations this year, out of nearly 900 nominations 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 public feud.

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

Three-time nominee Kevin Donovan and Kelsey Wilson were finalists in the Explainer category for their in-depth look at what happens to a car after it’s been stolen.

Donovan was also a finalist for the George Brown Award for Investigations for his work on the death of a toddler that led to a cold case reopening and a murder charge; and in the Sustained Media Coverage category for its ongoing 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 for the John Wesley Dafoe Prize for Policy for their investigation into the Ontario government’s ties to developers and the proposed controversial highway.

Joe Callaghan was a finalist in the Sports category for his feature films about basketball player Kyle Lowry, swimmer Maggie MacNeil and boxer Muhammad Ali.

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

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