The Winnipeg Free Press has won this year's prestigious Excellence in Journalism Award from the Canadian Journalism Foundation.
The national award is given annually to a news organization for 'overall extraordinary performance.'
The award was announced June 9, 2009 at a gala in Toronto in which CBS veteran Morley Safer was also honoured for his work, and journalist Joe Schlesinger received a lifetime achievement award from Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean.
"This is for the most creative, hard-working, talented people that I know," Free Press Editor Margo Goodhand told the crowd, accepting the award on behalf of the newsroom. "Every day, they set the bar higher for themselves and the rest of us. And every day, they make it fun to come to work."
Previous winners of the award include The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.
The Free Press is the first newspaper west of Ontario to earn this honour. CBC-TV's Winnipeg newsroom won in 2001.
"This is recognition that we produce a top quality newspaper for our readers every day," said Free Press publisher Bob Cox. "Winnipeg is second to none in many areas, including the calibre of its top-selling paper."
The Free Press submission included the country's first paid-circulation Pink Paper, its investigative series into the province's puppy mill industry, its court challenges, charitable campaigns, and other facets of the paper such as its local arts coverage, independent Ottawa bureau, the contest to find the Greatest Manitoban and the subsequent best-selling book.
One of the CJF judges called the submission "dazzling."
"The Winnipeg Free Press has seen a lot of change in the last 137 years, most of it in the last decade or so," Goodhand said. "We are constantly reinventing ourselves, and the newsroom is constantly challenged to reach new audiences and make new connections."
The Excellence in Journalism Award recognizes the outstanding work of a news organization and is sponsored by the Jackman Foundation and The Canadian Journalism Foundation. It is based on the following criteria: originality, accuracy and fairness, social responsibility, accountability and accessibility, diversity, professional development, courage and independence.