Manotick Messenger a finalist for five provincial newspaper awards

TORONTO – The Manotick Messenger is a finalist for the 2019 Ontario Community Newspaper Association Awards in five different categories.

The OCNA announced the three finalists in each category for its 2019 Better Newspaper Awards Competition on Friday. The Messenger is a finalist in five categories – the most among Eastern Ontario community newspapers. There are more than 200 OCNA member newspapers in Ontario.

Since 2005, the Messenger has been a winner or top three finalist for more than 60 awards, which is among the most in the province.

A story written by Jeff Morris on the Kraft family is a finalist for Best Feature Story. In January, 2019, Kielli Kraft donated a kidney to her mother, Wendy, whose life was at risk if she did not receive a transplant. The donation of the kidney was made as a Christmas gift. Wendy is a former employee of the Manotick LCBO, and fell ill shortly after retiring.

 “The gesture of what Kielli did for her mom was one of the most beautiful and inspirational gestures I have ever seen in this community,” Morris said. “It was an honour to be able to tell their story.”

In addition to running the feature, the Messenger helped establish and promote a GoFundMe page for the family. Kielli was working a retail job on Merivale Road and had no benefits. In order to donate her kidney and save her mom’s life, she had to take four months off work for the preparation, the surgery and her recovery. The GoFundMe page raised the equivalent of four months of her salary, so she was able to pay her rent, her bills, and buy food while she was recovering.

The other finalists in the Best Feature Story are the Manitoulin Expositor and the Minden Times.

An editorial on Nepean Eagles football coach Carlos Blizzard is up for Best Editorial. After an opposing team was caught cheating in an NCAFA football game, Blizzard pursued the issue in the name of doing what is right.

“Football is not about wins and losses,” Blizzard said in the editorial. “It’s 100 per cent about life lessons. What kind of life lessons are we teaching the kids if someone cheats on us and we don’t stand up for ourselves?”

The Eganville Leader and Haliburton Highlander are the other finalists.

A photo by Mike Carroccetto of the East Nepean Eagles Intermediate Little League team celebrating their Ontario championship by drenching coach Matt Hamer with water is a finalist for Best Sports Photo.

The other finalists in the category are the Blyth/Brussels Citizen and the Brampton Guardian.

For the second straight year, the From the Other Side column by Jeff Morris is a finalist in two categories. Morris is a finalist in both the Columnist of the Year and Humour Columnist of the Year categories. His column has been a finalist for either of these categories 11 times in the last 15 years. He has won the province’s top humour columnist award twice, and the Columnist of the Year Award once. He has been a runner-up for the awards a combined eight times, including last year, when he was a runner-up in both categories.

The other finalists in the Humour Columnist of the Year Award are Steve Galea of the Haliburton County Echo and James Culic of Niagara This Week. For the Columnist of the Year Award, Morris is a finalist with Culic and John Stewart of the Mississauga News.

“It’s an honour to be a finalist with such great and popular columnists,” Morris said. “Steve Galea usually beats me for these awards, and I always joke with him that he is my nemesis. Steve and James are both excellent writers and columnists.”

Morris said that this year’s nominations mean much more than the ones in previous years.

“I fought through some health issues over the last year, and I didn’t want what I was going through to compromise my work,” Morris said. In the last issue of the Manotick Messenger, Morris detailed his fight with cancer in his skull and brain.

The OCNA Awards Gala takes place in Vaughn April 3.