UPDATE: On April 29, the TVO-commissioned documentary Migrant Dreams won the CWA Canada / CAJ Award for Labour Reporting at the Canadian Association of Journalists conference in Ottawa.
April 28, 2017 - This weekend, the TVO documentary Migrant Dreams is up for an award at the Canadian Association of Journalists conference in Ottawa. It’s a well-deserved nomination. Migrant Dreams, by the director/producer team of Min Sook Lee and Lisa Valencia-Svensson, is an unflinching examination of the exploitation of a vulnerable population: temporary foreign workers in Ontario’s agricultural heartland.
The documentary has already won the prestigious Canadian Hillman Prize, awarded for “storytelling in service of the common good.” That’s a phrase that resonates deeply with me. It holds within it an optimism that I think defines the best of journalism.
The very act of asking tough questions, of shining a light in dark corners, takes hard work, courage and intelligence – attributes on full display in Migrant Dreams. But underlying it all is the belief – almost touchingly naïve in its simplicity – that doing so will make the world a better place.
That’s why journalism sits squarely at the centre of TVO’s purpose. Learning makes the world a better place. But learning, as we know, doesn’t happen just in a classroom. It’s life-long. Having the tools and information to understand the swirl that surrounds us helps position us to change the world.
The essential role of quality journalism has rarely seemed more important. Digital technology has driven changes in behavior that have eroded the watch-keeper role of serious media. This poses a challenge that threatens to undermine the democratic process. There is, after all, no learning in pursuit of the common good in a world without veracity. Informed debate, including from a regional or local perspective, is the keystone of a functioning civil society.
This makes the journalism we create and present every day – on The Agenda With Steve Paikin, on TVO.org, with documentaries we commission and acquire, and soon, through our Local Hubs– increasingly urgent and important.
So wish us luck this weekend. But, win or not, the recognition that comes from the Hillman and the CAJ helps sustain our mission.
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