by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Better Farming field editor Mary Baxter is this year’s recipient of a top international agricultural journalism award.
Earlier this week, Baxter’s article, “Lyme disease: the painful and hard-to-diagnose condition," which ran in the May 2011 issue of Better Farming magazine, was awarded the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists’ Star Prize for print journalism.
According to an August 16 news release from the international association, which represents agricultural journalists in 29 countries, the competition’s judges called Baxter’s piece “beautiful” and used “a nice mix of human interest story telling and scientific research, exemplifying great journalism.”
The judges also praised Better Farming magazine, noting: “Although it’s a story about a sensitive subject, zoonoses, Better Farming had the guts to publish it.” Better Farming is Canada’s largest circulation farm magazine.
Judges were Ed Cassavoy, senior editor, news and special sections at the Toronto Star and Rochus Kingmans, former editor of Boerderij and head of publishing for CRV, The Netherlands.
The article had received gold in last year’s Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation’s press feature category.
According to the IFAJ website, agricultural guilds that are members of the international organization can submit one entry to the annual competition. It is up to the individual guilds to develop the criteria to determine the entry.
In an August 17 email, Christina Franc, office manager of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation, which is a member of the international organization, notes that the Canadian entry is usually chosen from the top three press feature entries in the annual national contest or, occasionally, from top-placing entries in other categories.
“I’m absolutely delighted about the award and honoured,” says Baxter. “A lot of the credit belongs to the farmers in this article who shared their perspectives so candidly and to Better Farming editors Robert Irwin and Don Stoneman who have been so supportive of my exploration of agricultural issues over the years. I also want to thank contributing editor Charles Magill for his patience and insight.”
“We’re so proud of Mary, she’s won a number of prestigious awards since she joined our organization five years ago," says Better Farming managing editor Robert Irwin. “We had a lot of feedback on this feature. Some Lyme victims and their family members said they felt Mary’s story was speaking directly to them,” Irwin recalls.
Also recognized under the IFAJ print journalism category were Frederik Thalbitzer of Denmark (distinguished recognition) and Friederike Krick of Germany (honourable mention).
The awards were announced during the international organization’s congress, which wraps up this week in Sweden. Results from other award categories, including broadcast and photography, were also announced.
For the print journalism award, criteria included style, content and objectivity/balance. BF