The discourse copa awards
Jacqueline Ronson, Shalu Mehta and Julie Chadwick are lead reporters with The Discourse. Photo by Philip McLachlan/The Discourse
Cowichan Valley Nanaimo Vancouver Island West Shore

The Discourse dominates Canadian Online Publishing Award nominations

Our scrappy little upstart is up for 11 awards across an impressive breadth of categories.
The Discourse December 2, 2021

The Discourse is just tickled to be a finalist for 11 Canadian Online Publishing Awards — the most of any media outlet. These national awards recognize the best in digital publishing and online community news, an incredible recognition for a small independent media outlet like ours.

“I’m overwhelmed and astounded,” says Jacqueline Ronson, founding reporter for The Discourse Cowichan. “It’s a tribute to our tiny team’s hard work and dedication that we’re able to punch above our weight in national competitions.

“When I look back at these stories, what I see is our reporters’ absolute commitment to putting community service at the forefront of everything we do. It brings me joy to see that people looking in from outside can recognize that, too.”

As a team working hard to provide meaningful local news, we are proud of the breadth of these nominations. We earned recognition for the best feel-good stories, best investigative journalism, best virtual event, best multi-cultural stories, best community news website, best photojournalism and more. 

We couldn’t do this without the support of our communities. Our readers’ wise words, gentle feedback and uplifting encouragement are so fundamental to our work. We cannot offer enough thanks and gratitude to everyone who helps lift us up.

We’re already looking forward to the awards ceremony, which will take place in February next year. 

Check out the full list of our nominations:

Best Community News Website – The Discourse Cowichan

It takes a village to build a community news website that is beautiful, functional and full of excellent local news and information. On this, the team behind The Discourse Cowichan has set the bar and continues to raise it. The digital local news model built by this team now inspires countless independent journalism start-ups in Canada and beyond. Our website was developed and is maintained by our other sister organization, Indiegraf.

Best Investigative Article – The Discourse Nanaimo

Making Rent: A solutions series on rental affordability in Nanaimo, is a finalist for its deep look at housing issues in the city, and their potential solutions. The work even caught the attention of then-MP Paul Manly, who joined lead reporter Julie Chadwick for a virtual community conversation. So many staff and freelancers contributed to making this series awesome, including Lauren Kaljur, Julie Chadwick, Rae-Anne Guenther, Hilary Eastmure and David Owen Rama. 

Best Local Community News – The Discourse West Shore

Shalu Mehta leads empathic and in-depth coverage of issues in the West Shore communities of Greater Victoria. Shalu’s weekly email newsletter is like a community newspaper, reimagined for the digital age. And her investigations, including the deep-dive on a conflict over a gravel quarry in the Highlands, offer context and build understanding on complex local issues. 

Best Multicultural Story – The Discourse Cowichan

Of all our work in 2021, none has brought in quite as much positive community feedback as Jared Qwustenuxun Williams’s three-part series on the Coast Salish food systems of the past and present. (Here’s where you can find Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.) We were so happy to be able to help share this valuable series, which Qwustenuxun calls a short version of the book he’ll someday write. 

Best Feel Good Story – The Discourse West Shore

When a rainbow crosswalk was defaced outside a Royal Bay school, many news outlets focused on the hateful act. But reporter Shalu Mehta instead covered the response: how a community came together with love and understanding to repair the damage. It’s a true feel-good story with real impact: it spreads love in the face of hate. 

Best Feel Good Story – The Discourse Cowichan 

This article by Jacqueline Ronson spotlights the reFRESH marketplace, a community program that saves food from grocery stores that might otherwise go to waste and uses it to support Cowichan Valley families in need. We just love this kind of story — the kind that uplifts good work while also letting people know about valuable community resources. 

Best Photojournalism – Philip McLachlan, The Discourse

Philip McLachlan’s photography brings The Discourse’s community journalism to life. From community events to demonstrations to breaking news, Philip has an eye for how to visually tell a story. We’re not at all surprised that his work is already turning so many heads.

Best Continuing Coverage of a Story – The Discourse Cowichan

Since our early days in the community, our team has covered efforts to establish and maintain a women’s shelter in Cowichan. Reporter David Minkow has followed this issue through struggle and triumph. His reporting shows how, through the program, women have found health, stability and a sense of home. The Cowichan Women Against Violence Society (CWAV) credits The Discourse’s reporting, in part, for helping to find a new home for the shelter. 

Best Daily News Coverage – The Discourse Cowichan

It’s not often that The Discourse beats the other local news outlets on breaking news. But when no one else had the Saturday morning update on a wildfire burning on Mount Prevost, reporters Jacqueline Ronson and Philip McLachlan jumped into action, and got the news out to the community. What takes this story to the next level, though, is the amazing photo that Philip captured of firefighters jumping from a plane into the fire. It was the first time that smokejumpers had ever come to Vancouver Island, and Philip was there to capture the moment in local history. 

Best Continuing Coverage of a Story – The Discourse West Shore

When reporters at The Discourse latch onto a story, they go deep. Nowhere is that more true than in this five-part series by Shalu Mehta on the fight between a community and a rock quarry operation in the Highlands. (Here’s Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.)  Instead of getting lost in the conflict, Shalu reveals complexity while pointing to solutions. It’s this kind of in-depth community reporting on which The Discourse prides itself. 

Best Virtual Event – The Discourse Cowichan

When the pandemic nearly derailed the 2021 International Women’s Day ceremony, The Discourse stepped up to host a virtual version of the annual event. The event’s success is a testament to the strength of our community relationships and partnerships. The moving ceremony featured a keynote interview with Audrey George, manager of the Ts’i’ts’uwatul’ Lelum assisted living facility in Duncan. Poets Délani Valin and Carla Stein read original poetry celebrating essential workers. We were honoured to play a small part in lifting their voices. 

THANK YOU to our community of support — a million times. The Discourse just hit a record-setting 700 supporters. We couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s to an even bigger and more ambitious 2022.

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