A Fernie woman is crediting her roots for getting involved in an historic Canadian journalism collaboration.
Patti Sonntag is a managing editor with the New York Times and produced a series called “The Price of Oil“, which received some serious acclaim last week.
The investigative project earned an honourable mention from the Canadian Hillman Award, a foundation that celebrates a Canadian journalist whose work has made a difference in the lives of Canadians, and was recognized for videography by the Emerge Media Awards.
Sonntag grew up in the Elk Valley, where Vancouver-based mining giant Teck Resources runs five coal operations.
The mines are the primary employer in the region.
Sonntag says her understanding of the relationship rural communities have with industry is what drew her to the story.
“Some much of our work and so many jobs depend on these industries,” she says. “I also have family in Saskatchewan and I began hearing stories from people [there] about spills that were going unaddressed. These people didn’t seem to be able to get relief.”
The Toronto Star, National Observer, Global News and four Canadian universities collaborated on the series.
Sonntag was working at Concordia University and a colleague was at Ryerson when they started putting the extensive team together.
“It was so necessary. You know, our country is so big,” she asserts. “Trying to report on any natural resources industry, we have to gather together people from across the nation.
“So, together, the two of us began reaching out to the media partners. And so we assembled a network that was able to cover our vast country.”
The network of 50 plus people is gaining attention with the Hillmand foundation calling their effort, “a blueprint for a new collaborative model of journalism”.
With two accolades last week a lone, we’ll just have to wait and see what this week will hold.
– New York Times’ journalist Patti Sonntag on what drew her to this story