October 1, 2020

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Martin named Canada's columnist of the year

Winnipeg Free Press writer Melissa Martin has been named Canada’s columnist of the year for the second time in her career.

In a National Newspaper Awards ceremony that was livestreamed on the internet Friday evening, Martin was selected as Canada’s best columnist for 2019. It was her second NNA win.

Winnipeg Free Press columnist, Melissa Martin.

Winnipeg Free Press columnist, Melissa Martin.

Martin won based on three submissions: two columns related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and the third was a personal reflection that emerged after she experienced terrifying turbulence while flying home from Japan.

Martin, who is a reporter-at-large for the paper, won her first NNA in the Columns category for 2016. In addition to her two wins, she has been nominated five times.

"Melissa Martin’s remarkable column-writing gift is one I am delighted we get to present to our readers week after week," Free Press editor Paul Samyn said.

"Her personality, her perspective and her passion make Melissa one of the leading voices in our country."

Martin was overjoyed with her second win.

"It’s an honour beyond words to be chosen again for a National Newspaper Award, and one for which I am deeply grateful. It is surreal and lucky that I am able to do this work. For that, I give thanks to our Free Press editors, who give me space to try and often fail, and above all to our readers, who have always welcomed us into our collective conversation as Manitobans.

"At the same time, it breaks my heart that two of the pieces highlighted by this award are stories of violence against young Indigenous women and girls. I long for a time when these are stories of the past, and when the spotlight falls instead on tales of celebration and healing. Until then, we will keep trying to write towards a better world."

Free Press writer Erin Lebar was named a finalist in the Arts and Entertainment category for a biography of Begonia, an emerging singer in Winnipeg. Reporter Ryan Thorpe was a finalist in the Long Feature category for documenting the despair in a neighbourhood that’s ground zero for the city’s street drugs and gang violence.

Samyn also praised their work.

"Erin and Ryan are key members of a new generation of reporters that are making our newsroom stronger and helping us serve our growing audience with the stories they need and the journalism they deserve."

The Globe and Mail won eight of the 21 category awards in the 71st year of the NNAs. La Presse and the Ottawa Citizen each won three, while Le Devoir and the Toronto Star won two apiece.

The awards were established by the Toronto Press Club in 1949 to encourage excellence and reward achievement in daily newspaper work in Canada. The competition is now open to daily newspapers, news agencies and online news sites approved for entry by the NNA board of governors.

There were 63 finalists from 19 organizations in 21 categories. Finalists were selected by three-judge panels in each category from 774 entries submitted for work published in 2019.

Serge Chapleau of La Presse and Stephanie Nolen of the Globe and Mail tied the record for lifetime wins. Chapleau won for the eighth time in the Editorial Cartooning category, while Nolen’s win in the Business category was also the eighth of her career.


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Updated on Friday, May 1, 2020 at 7:06 PM CDT: Adds related stories

7:45 PM: Adds photo

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