Discourse Media has earned a coveted Edward R. Murrow Award for its data-driven investigation of racial profiling of Indigenous Canadians by police in western Canadian cities. The award, for excellence in investigative reporting in the international small digital news category, recognizes Discourse’s contribution to “Justice Is Not Blind,” a months-long investigation probing why Indigenous Canadians are so overrepresented in the justice system published by Maclean’s magazine.
The Murrow, awarded by the Washington D.C.-based Radio Television Digital News Association, is just one of several nods Discourse received this award season. “Justice Is Not Blind” is also a finalist for the National Magazine Awards in the investigative reporting and longform feature writing categories. Discourse Media also earned a nomination for best editorial package from the Digital Publishing Awards for its ongoing investigation into global energy poverty “Power Struggle.” Finally, Discourse has been shortlisted for the Jackman Award for Excellence in Journalism awarded by the Canadian Journalism Foundation for its body of work focused on reconciliation.
“Justice Is Not Blind” was made possible by something that rarely happens in the Canadian media industry: collaboration between media organizations. Discourse Media, an independent media organization based in Vancouver, partnered with Maclean’s to produce and analyze data and conduct community-based reporting that Maclean’s didn’t have the capacity to accomplish alone. Maclean’s brought to Discourse Media a large platform to extend the impact of its work.
“Working with Discourse Media allowed Maclean’s to pursue a project we could never otherwise have completed on our own,” says Nancy Macdonald, Maclean’s associate editor. “Discourse Media added capacity, vision and tremendous value. Their work was extraordinary.”
The project was supported by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression through its 2016 Bob Carty Fellowship for Free Expression (CJFE).
“We sought data from police forces and federal agencies and were told again and again that racial data about policing is not collected or is inaccessible,” said Erin Millar, Discourse Media editor-in-chief and 2016 CJFE Bob Carty fellow. “Our research filled a gaping hole in data available to the public about racial profiling. The results of our analysis validated individuals’ stories of discrimination and make a strong case for more transparency from police.”