The Suburban and its editor Beryl Wajsman have been recognized across Canada by the national Better Newspapers Competition for their editorial writing. Additionally, The Suburban has won eight Quebec Community Newspaper Association (QCNA) awards.
Wajsman will formally receive his award May 21 when the Canadian Newspaper Association (CAN) and the Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA) hold their 2009 National Convention at the Centre Sheraton in Montreal under the theme Ink & Beyond. He won second place honours in editorial writing for newspapers in the largest circulation category.
“This is very gratifying,” Wajsman said of the award. “Since my first issue as editor of this paper on July 4, 2007, I have made every effort to ensure that The Suburban makes a difference in the communities we serve. That has, in effect, been the focus of my editorials. Each week the objective is to put the emphasis on advocacy of issues that affect every one of us in our day-to-day lives. Real people. Real problems. There is still a lot to be cured out there and I like to feel we best serve the community by being a voice for the powerless and vulnerable. As the press we have a great responsibility. At The Suburban I try to make our editorials live up to that expectation. To be the people’s voice. And we produce results because we do not shy away from controversy when necessary.”
Meanwhile, Wajsman is also pleased that various members of his staff will be honoured at the QCNA awards night. The Suburban will receive seven QCNA awards and one honourable mention in May. The paper is nominated in the top three (yet to be announced) in the following categories: Best overall newspaper; Best front page, Best feature page , Best sports pages, Best news story, Best editorial on local affairs, and Best editorial cartoon. The Suburban received its honourable mention for best special section (Suburban Celebrations fall 2008).
“We have a great team here at The Suburban,” said Wajsman. “The variety of different categories in which we won illustrates our diversity. The editorial ‘Teaching of contempt’ used the case of West Island resident Gemma Raeburn-Baynes, who was moving items from her garage into her home with some friends. She and her friends were hassled by six gun-toting police officers because a neighbour thought they were stealing because they were black and had called 911. The officers were suspended, but ended up being let off the hook more recently by a Quebec court. It showed that even at a time when the United States elected a black president, we still have a ways to go in terms of our society.” His other winning editorial, “Paying it forward”, was a testament to — and a call for — more citizen engagement in relieving the plight of the poor, the hungry and the homeless in our communities.
Suburban publisher Michael Sochaczevski notes that Wajsman has brought an entirely new dimension to the paper since taking on chief editorial duties. “It has become quite common under Beryl’s leadership for our paper to break a particular story and for other media in the city, and in some cases across the country, to pick it up,” he says. “The editorials are hard hitting when necessary and they get the players involved to sit up and take notice. Being considered in the Best overall newspaper category is especially rewarding since it is a testament to the entire team across the company who help put out The Suburban each week. From editorial to production to sales to all the various administrative functions we are fortunate to have a team that cares about the customer, the reader, and about each other. Apparently it shows.”