Five Red River College journalism students have written stories judged good enough to bear the names of two giants of Winnipeg journalism.
The Eric and Jack Wells awards for excellence in journalism were presented Tuesday night to Marc Lagace, Tammy Schuster, Erika Miller and Scott Best. Elizabeth Fraser could not attend because she is working as a reporter at the Daily Gleaner in Fredericton, NB.
“We are delighted to see these students walking in the journalistic footsteps of Eric and Jack Wells. The judges noted the depth of research and good writing that went into all the winners, qualities that Eric and Jack valued,” says Del Sexsmith, board member of the Eric and Jack Wells Foundation.
Lagace, a first-year journalism student, wrote about the implications of student athletes using social media.
“It was the first time I experienced pushback on a story,” Lagace says. “It was clear they had all had a meeting before responding to my interview requests.”
Schuster, also a first-year student, wrote a personality profile of Winnipeg police officer Meera Bahadoosingh, a former TV news reporter.
“She saw police officers doing their work as part of her job and decided to become one. I learned from her that it’s never too late to start over,” Schuster says.
Miller created a website with stories about restorative justice, in which victim and offender try to find reconciliation and understanding.
“I was looking for compelling stories so the community could learn there’s an alternative to punitive justice. The victim and offender may never be friends, but they can work together to heal the harm done by the crime,” Miller said.
Best interviewed Wilma Derksen, whose daughter Candace was murdered in the 1980s. The case was back in the news when the courts ordered a retrial of Mark Grant, previously convicted of the murder.
The blind student, who has his own program on CJNU radio, prepared for the interview by having his computer read aloud the book about the case by reporter Mike McIntyre, Journey for Justice.
“I learned how to deal with emotion. I approached it with as much compassion and decency as I could,” Best says.
Eric Wells was editor of the Winnipeg Tribune, founder of the Western Canada Pictorial Index and a commentator on CJOB radio. “Cactus” Jack Wells was a ground-breaking sportscaster on CBC, CTV, CJOB and other stations.
The Foundation established in their name in 1994 has given more than $70,000 in cash awards and bursaries to more than 100 Creative Communications students over the past 20 years.