For immediate release, Tuesday, June 11, 2019
“Every story is local to somewhere”
Samuel Piccolo wins 2019 Dalton Camp Award and $10,000 prize
for essay about the power of community journalism
(Toronto) Samuel Piccolo has won the 2019 Dalton Camp Award for his essay A Sleepless Year in a Sleepy Town, an eloquent first-hand account of the power of local journalism.
The Dalton Camp Award is a $10,000 prize for the best essay on the link between media and democracy, presented annually by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
A Sleepless Year in a Sleepy Town recounts Piccolo’s time as the principal reporter at The Pelham Voice, a free weekly in southern Ontario which is so small it does not have a Wikipedia page. Though small, The Voice’s hard-hitting journalism has exposed wrongdoing, while also chronicling and enriching everyday life for the people of Pelham.
Read the essay in full here.
“It is an honour to win this award,” says Piccolo. “When I started my journey to journalism, I had no idea just how important a scrappy little weekly like The Voice can be. For a year in my town, I was the media. It’s a tough but essential job. I hope that my story inspires others to take up this essential public service in towns across Canada. There can be no democracy without journalism.”
Piccolo’s essay recounts how the Mayor and Town Council did not take kindly to The Voice’s reporting on an alleged coverup of the Town’s finances and dealings. Piccolo also wrote a 12,000 word investigative piece about a seniors’ residence, partially funded by the public, where staff allegedly charged illegal fees, entered apartments illegally, and bullied residents. One of those staff members was a Town Councillor.
“If it’s true that all politics is local, then so too is journalism. Every story is local to somewhere. For many people, the mundane matters most: garbage, streets, by-laws. But even more important is trust. Local government offers a real opportunity for people to have faith in their democracy, since it’s a place where they can more easily feel as though their representative are beholden only to them and not to a party leader, a universal desire in politics. Citizens can look legislators in the eye after each meeting, or in the Tim Hortons, or at the Legion. It is the same thing with the media.” — an excerpt from Piccolo’s winning essay
Piccolo’s essay was chosen from amongst 100 entries, by a three-member selection committee. “The jury was very taken with Samuel’s compelling and personal account of his year at the community paper in his hometown,” says selection committee member Pauline Couture. “At a time when journalism is threatened and media concentration has reached crisis proportions, his essay is a refreshing reminder that local media continue to support democracy at the most grassroots level and in meaningful ways.”
The Dalton Camp Award was created in 2002 to honour the memory of Dalton Camp, a distinguished commentator on Canadian public affairs. The winner also receives a commemorative metal designed by Canada's foremost medal designer and sculptress, the late Dore de Pédèry-Hunt.
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is a watchdog group advocating for Canadian public broadcasting, journalism and storytelling on air, and online. Friends enjoys the support of 364,000 Canadians and is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.
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