The Taliban, the Globe and the Emmy

Less than a generation ago, Canadian newspapers considered the National Newspaper Awards, sponsored by the Canadian Newspaper Association, to be the holy grail of peer recognition for outstanding journalism. Sure, there were the annual Michener Awards for meritorious public service journalism and Canadians occasionally won Pulitzer Prizes (winners include the likes of novelists Ernest Hemingway, Carol Shields and news photographer Paul Watson). But the NNAs were the mainstay of year-to-year bragging rights when it came to public and industry recognition of significant journalistic accomplishment. In some respects, they still are.

Reporter Graeme Smith introduces the Talking to the Taliban series on the Globe and Mail's website.
Reporter Graeme Smith introduces the Talking to the Taliban series on the Globe and Mail's website.

The Globe and Mail, however, has raised the bar once again. Last night’s win at the 30th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards is an extraordinary accomplishment for reporter Graeme Smith, multimedia producer Jayson Taylor and interactive designer Chris Manza. The Emmy recognizes the Globe’s landmark Talking to the Taliban project in the category of New Approaches to News and Documentary Programming: Current News Coverage. Talking to the Taliban had already won an Online Journalism Award for best investigative piece by a large website, an Editor and Publisher (“EPpy”) online journalism award, and an NNA in the best multimedia feature category.

The Globe beat out entries from the New York Times, Washington Post and Reuters for the Emmy honour; the award was accepted at New York’s Lincoln Center ceremony by Smith, who expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to work for a Canadian news organization that could compete with the world’s best.

In winning the Emmy — an award most widely known as one that honours television arts and sciences — the Globe has emphatically underscored the reality of what used to be called “convergence” in days when the notion of legacy media delivering information through a variety of platforms was considered novel or prescient.

The Globe’s story on its Emmy honour is here; it properly acknowledges the work of a large team of journalists in bringing the project to fruition, including foreign editor Stephen Northfield. One name notably absent from the list of contributors is that of Christine Diemert, the former managing editor of who was sent packing earlier this year and who fairly quickly found work at Diemert put hundreds of hours into the Taliban project, and no doubt is taking some quiet personal satisfaction in the accomplishment.

Update: The Waterloo Region Record followed up with its own story on Sept. 23. Smith is a native of New Hamburg, Ont.

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