The Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy – known simply as “The Atkinson” – was established to demonstrate the power of journalism to serve the public good. It’s for journalists who have high expectations for themselves and for this country: Canada’s best journalists. It’s a year to “go deep” and to tell a story that has real potential to change public policy.
Tanya Talaga was the 2017-2018 Atkinson Fellow and 2018 CBC Massey Lecturer. Her five-part series, All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward, explores the connections between colonization and Indigenous youth suicide in Canada and internationally. She traveled to Halifax, Saskatoon and Vancouver for CBC Ideas . Her book is available for purchase from House of Anansi Press here.
Tanya is the first Atkinson Fellow to be named the Massey Lecturer. This is also the first time the Atkinson and the Masseys have been devoted to the same topic in the same year.
As the 2016 – 2017 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy, Catherine Wallace explored the future of journalism at a time the number of working journalists in Canada was in sharp decline. She went beyond examining new business models, instead focusing on what role the community can play in helping fill the gap in information and storytelling. From universities to museums to everyday citizens, Wallace reported on new kinds of collaborations that are helping make sense of data, inform the public and hold governments accountable.
When the public conversation started to heat up this year, we decided to re-publish Catherine’s work in print and on a digital platform . She took this opportunity to update her series and to write a new article on the collaborations and other actions that are shaping the future today.
“Too often ‘news’ can be merely the new, the dramatic or the unusual. But to be good journalism, it also needs to answer the question ‘why?’ Good journalism has a mission to witness but also to explain. And that requires patience, resources and ‘going deep,'” concludes Peter Goodspeed in his reflections on the 30th anniversary of the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy.
Peter was the 2013 – 2014 Atkinson Fellow. He spent a year investigating Canada’s refugee policy in relation to the Syrian refugee crisis. In this retrospective, he shares his conversations with alumni about their experience, where their reporting took them, and the contribution they made to our public life.
The Atkinson Foundation and the Honderich Family provide a seasoned Canadian journalist with $100,000 and a year to investigate a critical public policy issue. Atkinson Fellows write a series of articles for publication in the Toronto Star at the conclusion of their fellowship.
As the 2019-2020 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy, John Lorinc will investigate and report on the impact of smart cities technology and data governance on citizens and their governments. He will examine the tensions created by disruptive technology industries and implications for personal privacy, urban planning, and government accountability. He expects to make a contribution to the public policy discourse on the appropriate level of corporate regulation.
“My undergraduate degree is in math and I like numbers, so the notion of using data and equations to inform urban decision-making is of great interest to me,” said Lornic. “But I also know from my reporting that cities are exquisitely complicated and inherently human spaces. Technologies can impose unintended consequences. So if `smart city’ systems are going to be part of our urban future, we will need to find ways to better understand and anticipate the full social impact of these technologies.”
Based in Toronto, Lorinc is a freelance journalist. For more than 30 years, Lorinc has contributed to numerous national and local publications including The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Walrus, Canadian Business, Maclean’s, and the Washington Post. He is a senior editor at Spacing, a quarterly magazine focused on issues affecting the public realm. Lorinc has won numerous National Magazine Awards for his feature writing. He is the author of three books.
Atkinson Fellows in Public Policy have tackled issues Joseph Atkinson would have pursued – equity, health, education and welfare reform – but also others beyond his imagination. The goal of social and economic justice is the common denominator across issues, media platforms and generations.
The 2020 – 2021 Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy application process is now open. Letters of Intent are due on Wednesday February 5, 2020 at 5:00 PM (EST).
If you are a full-time Canadian journalist in print or broadcast media and are thinking about applying for this fellowship, here’s what you should know:
Eligible candidates will:
Upload your three-page letter of intent and curriculum vitae as a single PDF to our online application form. It should:
The Selection Committee is open to research ideas on a wide range of topics. Preference will be given to issues that are at the forefront of public policy debate. The Atkinson will not be awarded to projects in history, anthropology, literature or folklore.
You are encouraged to reflect on the Foundation’s mission to promote social and economic justice. The Selection Committee uses it as the basis for its deliberations.
Letters of intent are reviewed and decisions will be communicated by the end of February each year. If your letter is shortlisted, you’ll receive an invitation to submit a more detailed proposal for mid-March. An honourarium will be provided to finalists. The winner is announced in early June at the Canadian Journalism Foundation Awards Gala.
If you have questions about this exceptional opportunity or the selection process, please contact Jenn Miller, Director of Social Investment at the Atkinson Foundation. email@example.com
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