Carleton journalism professor Brett Popplewell has been awarded a prestigious Gold prize at this year’s National Magazine Awards for his penetrating examination of the Toronto Star’s struggle to survive in the digital age, published last May by The Walrus.

Popplewell was named co-winner in the Long-form Feature Writing category at the 42nd annual NMA gala in Toronto on May 31. His article, “Final Edition: Inside the Toronto Star’s Bold Plan to Save Itself,” shared top honours in the category with Toronto writer Anthony Oliveira’s Hazlitt feature, “Death in the Village”, chronicling the aftermath of the Bruce McArthur murders in the city’s Church-Wellesley neighbourhood.

“It’s always an honour to have a piece of journalism recognized in this way,” said Popplewell. “And it’s a privilege to win gold alongside Anthony Oliveira.”

Popplewell is among the country’s most decorated magazine journalists, having garnered nine other Gold and Silver awards and 16 total nominations at the NMAs since 2010. Last year, he was a finalist in the Investigative Reporting category for his story “Head Games”, also published by The Walrus, about the crisis over concussions in the Canadian Football League.

That story was also awarded the inaugural Allan Slaight Prize for Journalism as the most outstanding article published in The Walrus in 2017.

Popplewell, a Carleton journalism graduate and a Toronto Star reporter from 2007 to 2011, said those years at the Star “offered me insight into the inner workings” of what has been this country’s highest-circulation newspaper as he undertook his in-depth probe of its future.

The story began in the Washington apartment of Star correspondent Daniel Dale, who was earning global acclaim by holding U.S. President Donald Trump to account even as the Toronto newspaper that employed him flirted with financial disaster.

“On one level, this story is a profile of Daniel Dale, a tireless workaholic reporter who has done more than maybe anyone else to fact-check the president of the United States,” Popplewell said after the NMA awards. “But it’s also a story of the rich past, difficult present and alarming future of the newspaper industry in our country.”

The challenge, he added, is for the Star “to save itself from financial collapse in the age of fake news, algorithms and social media.”

Popplewell, who joined the School of Journalism and Communication as a full-time faculty member in 2017, has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail, Sportsnet, Maclean’s and many other publications. His work has also appeared in The Best American Sports Writing and has been produced into documentary features for broadcast.

He is the co-author of The Escapist: How One Man Cheated Death on the World’s Highest Mountains. (HarperCollins Canada, 2016).

Popplewell has a master’s degree in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and is also a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course in New York.

Prior to joining Carleton’s journalism faculty, he taught at Ryerson University and served as a Bureau Chief with the Fellowship in Global Journalism at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

He currently serves as executive director of the Gordon Sinclair Foundation.

Monday, June 3, 2019 in ,
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