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The Narwhal picks up 10 Digital Publishing Awards nominations, dominating photojournalism field

The double-digit DPA nods once again put The Narwhal in competition with the heavyweights of Canada’s journalism industry for most selections

The Narwhal’s awards-season recognition keeps on rolling.

We’re thrilled to be nominated for 10 Digital Publishing Awards, including a finalist selection for general excellence and a jaw-dropping three nods for best photo storytelling — a standout achievement that drew praise for having “dominated” the visual journalism category.

The Narwhal’s coverage of last year’s Wet’suwet’en standoff was honoured with nominations for both best news coverage and best photo storytelling just a week after picking up a nod from the Canadian Association of Journalists. 

The Wet’suwet’en crisis hit a breaking point in February 2020 when RCMP officers arrested matriarchs in the heart of the nation’s territory. Photographer Amber Bracken was on the ground for The Narwhal documenting the situation as it unfolded, collaborating with editors and reporters to put out original stories that drew nationwide attention.

Managing editor Carol Linnitt said seeing this kind of work get recognized is a validation of a long-standing commitment to high-quality, compelling journalism about the natural world.

“The Narwhal was launched to reignite the public’s interest in environmental issues and also to defend the public’s interest when it comes to holding the most powerful forces in our society to account,” Linnitt said. “Our team has proven that telling some of the biggest, most important and most difficult stories of our time can be done in beautiful, award-worthy ways.”

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The 10 selections put The Narwhal in exclusive company, behind only CBC, Radio-Canada and The Globe and Mail in number of nominations. It’s a similar story to last week, when the Canadian Association of Journalists gave our publication — with just eight editorial staff — nine award nominations.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of these award nominations is knowing The Narwhal is one of the country’s fastest growing publications thanks to so many generous readers who make our work possible,” Linnitt said, pointing to the more than 3,100 members who support us by donating whatever they can afford each month.

“These nominations prove that reader-funded journalism not only works, but is a foundation for excellence in our sector. All of us at The Narwhal are delighted that we share these nominations with our monthly members.”

The DPA nomination for general excellence in digital publishing is a recognition of The Narwhal’s journalistic standards and efforts to effectively serve its audience. The numbers tell the story: in 2020, our website audience grew by 65 per cent, our newsletter audience grew by 127 per cent, our paying membership grew by 129 per cent and our Instagram following grew by more than 100 per cent. 

In addition to the Wet’suwet’en coverage, two other stories earned finalist nods in the photo storytelling category: an exploration of the impacts of Manitoba Hydro projects on Indigenous communities by Aaron Vincent Elkaim and a feature spotlighting the individuals working to save Canada’s native grasslands with photos by Amber Bracken.

The grasslands story was one part of our ongoing series on nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. The Carbon Cache series picked up a nomination for best digital editorial package.

Api'soomaahka, William Singer,
Api’soomaahka, William Singer, lies near some aohtoksooki, or common yarrow, on the Kainai Blood Tribe reserve near Stand Off, Alta. This photo is part of a feature story nominated for best photo storytelling with the Digital Publishing Awards. Photo: Amber Bracken / The Narwhal

Hilary Beaumont’s piece on a cross-border battle against cancer in Ontario’s rust belt, a collaboration with Environmental Health News, was nominated for best feature article (long).

Sarah Cox’s feature on B.C.’s looming extinction crisis — amid a failure to enact standalone endangered species legislation — was nominated for best science and technology storytelling.

The Narwhal’s relentless coverage of hydro issues in B.C. was recognized in the best online video feature category for an examination of what happens when fracking and hydro dams collide.

The Narwhal’s newsletter, which reaches more than 48,000 people each week, was nominated for best editorial newsletter.

The wide range of selections underscore the breadth of The Narwhal’s coverage and a desire to tell complicated stories in compelling ways.

“We know there are a lot of difficult stories out there about the environment. It’s understandable people would want to simply tune the bad news out,” Linnitt said. “Our goal at The Narwhal is to bring these stories to the public in a way that highlights our shared humanity and the importance of what’s at stake when it comes to the great ecological challenges we face in society.”

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You’ve read all the way to the bottom of this article. That makes you some serious Narwhal material.

And since you’re here, we have a favour to ask. Our independent, ad-free journalism is made possible because the people who value our work also support it (did we mention our stories are free for all to read, not just those who can afford to pay?).

As a non-profit, reader-funded news organization, our goal isn’t to sell advertising or to please corporate bigwigs — it’s to bring evidence-based news and analysis to the surface for all Canadians. And at a time when most news organizations have been laying off reporters, we’ve hired five journalists over the past year.

Not only are we filling a void in environment coverage, but we’re also telling stories differently — by centring Indigenous voices, by building community and by doing it all as a people-powered, non-profit outlet supported by more than 4,200 members

The truth is we wouldn’t be here without you. Every single one of you who reads and shares our articles is a crucial part of building a new model for Canadian journalism that puts people before profit.

We know that these days the world’s problems can feel a *touch* overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like what we do doesn’t make any difference, but becoming a member of The Narwhal is one small way you truly can make a difference.

If you believe news organizations should report to their readers, not advertisers or shareholders, please become a monthly member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford.

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