The Toronto Star’s chief investigative reporter, Kevin Donovan, has been recognized for his more than three-decade career reporting wars and exposing wrongdoings within institutions.
World Press Freedom Canada (WPFC) said in a statement on Monday that it is awarding Donovan a press freedom award of merit for his fight in court to obtain documents in high-profile criminal and civil cases.
The award recognizes journalists who disclose information of public interest, “by denying compliance with privacy, information, freedom of freedom requests or attempts to thwart their actions.”
The committee recognized Donovan’s commitment to dogs to pursue documents of public interest in the courts, and his determination to debate the cases himself. Such courtly skills are rare in Canadian journalism and Donovan makes the case that they can be an important weapon in the arsenal of journalists who are tainted by official secrecy while pursuing important stories.
Donovan performed this “to go to court on his behalf to get the courts to release the documents”, WPFC spokesman Sean McCothy said.
Donovan’s focus has been on explaining to the courts how the public – the readers – need access to documents to uncover the areas in which the justice system works, and that it is not working properly.
Without any legal training, he set an example on the case and argued before the Ontario Court of Justice, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and the Ontario Court of Appeal.
“I believe the public, which pays for and supports these institutions, should have the right to look under the hood and kick the tires,” Donovan said. “It is a right protected by our laws, yet time and again we must argue for the right to shine that spotlight.”
He recalled his work on the Barry and Honey Sherman murder case, in which the case was misrepresented by police investigators.
The well-known philanthropist couple was strangled to death in the basement of his Toronto mansion in December 2017.
“I have gone to court for the last three-and-a-half years by arguing for the release of hundreds of pages of search warrant documents,” Donovan said. “Last December, my arguments prompted the court to approve the release of quite a few documents, which cast a light on the case.”
Star’s editor Anne Marie Owens stated, “Transparency and openness are the keys to a fair and equitable justice system. Kevin Donovan has consistently worked to unheard closed court records in justice and the public interest, which is absolutely necessary.
“We are proud to be honored as part of this year’s World Press Freedom Awards for the work that Kevin has done, the work that Star has done deeply. Whenever and whenever journalists encounter obstacles to gain information, it is important to emphasize for change. “
Sara Cox is an investigative reporter with The Nerve, and Nathan Vanderklype is The Globe and Mel’s China Content. The WPFC is an Ottawa-based advocacy group that monitors freedom of the press globally and recognizes outstanding achievements by public-interest journalists in Canada, including non-compliance with privacy, freedom of information requests, or their work Follow other attempts to thwart.
Donovan has previously won two Minor Awards, three National Newspaper Awards and three Canadian Association of Journalist Awards.
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McCarthy said WPFC’s Ottawa-based volunteer team has been honoring journalists for more than 20 years.
Surprisingly, he said, none of this year’s awards dealt with COVID-19 stories.
Nathan Vanderklipp, correspondent for The Globe and Miles China, and Sarah Cox, an investigative reporter with Narwal, are co-winners of the 2021 Press Freedom Award. Meghan Potkins and Madeline Smith, both of the Calgary Herald, were also awarded for qualification.
The Spencer Moore Award for Lifetime Achievement went to the Vancouver Sun’s Kim Bolan.